History Graduate Student Handbook

Please contact Roberta Ruiz for a hard copy of the handbook.

Programs and Degree Requirements

Fields of Study

The Department offers fields of graduate study: Public History, Borderlands History, Race and Identity, Gender and Sexuality, Atlantic World, and Empire, Colonialism, and Postcolonial Studies, spread across the subfields of United States History, Latin American History, European History, and World History. Students in Public History will complete 18 hours in that field and 18 hours in U.S. history, or other topics with the advisor’s permission, and related topics (including Historiography and Methods). Students with other specializations are required to take Historiography and Methods, General Research Seminar, and 21 hours in History electives (see below). Upon entering the program, students must register their major field of study with the Director of Graduate Studies. At least 6 hours of graduate history must be taken in research seminars in which a formal paper based on research into primary sources constitutes a significant portion of the course grade.

Degree Plans

(effective fall 2022; for current plans, view the Graduate Degree Info page)

Master of Arts (with thesis)

  • 33 hours of graduate level history, or
  • 27 hours of graduate level history with an optional 6-hour cognate in a discipline outside of history, approved by the Director of Graduate Studies
  • 3 hours, Historiography and Methods [5361]
  • 3 hours, General Research Seminar [5398]
  • 6 hours, thesis credit (Thesis A and Thesis B)
  • 21 hours, history electives (with at least 9 hours in major field)
  • 6 hours outside cognate master’s thesis (optional, as indicated above)
  • Comprehensive examination (thesis defense)

Master of Arts (non-thesis)

  • 36 hours of graduate history, or
  • 30 hours of graduate history with an optional 6-hour cognate in a discipline outside of history, approved by the Director of Graduate Studies
  • 3 hours, Historiography and Methods [5361]
  • 3 hours, General Research Seminar [5398]
  •     3 hours, Comprehensive Exams [5388]
  •     27 hours, history electives (with at least 15 hours in major field)
  • 6 hours, outside cognate (optional, as indicated above)
  • Comprehensive examination (combination of written and oral exams)

Master of Arts Degree with specialization in Public History (non-thesis)

  • 36 hours of graduate history, or
  • 30 hours of graduate history with an optional 6-hour cognate in a discipline approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Public History Advisor.
  • 3 hours, Historiography and Methods [5361]
  • 3 hours, The Practice of Public History [5371]
  • 3 hours, Internship [5374]
  • 3 hours, General Research Seminar [5398]
  • 3 hours, Comprehensive Exams [5388]
  • 12 hours, Public History electives
  • 9 hours, United States History seminars (or other topics and regions with advisor approval)
  • 6 hours, outside cognate (optional, on approval, as indicated above)
  • Comprehensive examination (combination of written and oral exams)

Master of Arts degree with specialization in History Education (non-thesis)

  • 21 hours of graduate-level History and 15 graduate hours from a discipline outside of History or
  • 21 hours of graduate-level History, 9 graduate hours in one discipline outside of history, and 6 hours in a second outside discipline
  • 3 hours, Historiography and Methods [5361]
  • 3 hours, General Research Seminar [5398]
  • 3 hours, Comprehensive Exams [5388]
  • 12 hours, History electives
  • 15 hours outside minor(s) in one or two academic disciplines, or
  • 15 hours Education (which, with student teaching hours and experience, would qualify the student for certification)
  • Comprehensive examination (combination of written and oral exams)

Master of Arts Degree with specialization in Public History (thesis option)

  • 39 hours of graduate history, or
  • 33 hours of graduate history with an optional 6-hour cognate in a discipline approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Public History Advisor
  • 3 hours, Historiography and Methods [5361]
  • 3 hours, The Practice of Public History [5371]
  • 3 hours, Internship [5374]
  • 3 hours, General Research Seminar [5398]
  • 6 hours, Thesis Credit
  • 12 hours, Public History electives
  • 9 hours, United States History seminars (or other topics and regions with advisor approval)
  • 6 hours, outside cognate (optional, on approval, as indicated above)
  • Comprehensive examination (Thesis defense)

Certificate in Public History

Program Requirements
Students are required to complete 15 hours of Public History courses. HIST 5371, The Practice of Public History, is the foundation course of our program and will be required of all certificate students. Students must complete four other Public History courses (12 hours). Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA with no grade lower than a C; they must complete the program within four semesters and must pass a comprehensive exit exam.

Transfer to the Master of Arts program
Students enrolled in the certificate program may transfer to the Master of Arts Public History Program if they receive approval from the Public History Committee, apply, and meet the requirements for admission to the Public History graduate program in the Graduate College. No more than six hours of credit may be transferred.

History Department Expectations

Students completing the History graduate program will have a critical understanding of historiographical trends in the student's major field, as well as demonstrate advanced ability to undertake the explanation of historical subject matter in oral form.

Students completing the Master of Arts program will demonstrate the ability to undertake the writing of a major research or historiographical paper combining primary and secondary sources.

Students in the Public History Program will demonstrate advanced ability to undertake the practice of history in the context of the public.

Academic Misconduct

Texas State University “expects students to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is beyond reproach. Students found in violation of the Honor Code are subject to disciplinary action.” (Policy 01.02) Per Policy 02.02, academic misconduct includes but is not limited to:

  • Submitting plagiarized work for credit. Plagiarism is the appropriation of someone else’s work and the inadequately or inappropriately acknowledged incorporation of that work in one’s own work that is offered for credit. It includes the unacknowledged word-for-word use or paraphrasing of another person’s work or the inappropriately acknowledged use of another person’s ideas.
  • Falsification, fabrication, or dishonesty in reporting research results.
  • Cheating. Using unauthorized materials in examinations, submitting as one’s own work any research paper or other assignment prepared by another individual, or submitting the same essay without substantial revision or expansion of work to obtain credit for work submitted in another course.
  • Collaboration/Collusion by engaging in unauthorized collaboration with another person on work submitted for credit.
  • Facilitating academic misconduct by intentionally aiding or attempting to aid in the violation of Texas State’s Honor Code.

Students are expected to produce their own work and support academic honesty. For the first offense, faculty members will refer cases of academic misconduct to the Graduate Studies Director and the Honor Code Council, which will result in the student automatically being placed on academic probation. A second violation will result in expulsion from the History Department’s MA program.

A full list policies and expectations can be found on the university’s honor code site.

A Note about Grades

Only graduate History course work for which students have received a final grade of B or higher will count toward graduate History degrees. A B grade means that the student is making clear progress toward being able to complete a thesis or a comprehensive exam. A C grade indicates that progress needs to be made before the student can show they are capable of M.A.-level work. An “A” grade means the student is already doing work that shows they are capable of satisfying expectations for the M.A. level and that it is the kind of work needed to succeed within and outside the academy, convey the power of historical thinking to future students and the public, and enrich the profession with their knowledge, research, and experience.

Upon the first instance of receiving a final grade of C or lower in a History graduate course, students will be placed on departmental probation and must meet with the Graduate Advisor to discuss the issue. If a student receives a second final grade of C or lower in a History graduate course, he or she will be dismissed from the program. Students who have been dismissed may petition for reenrollment after a six-month absence. In deciding whether to grant permission for reenrollment, the Department will consider any extenuating circumstances affecting student performance and the number of graduate History courses for which students received a final grade of C or lower. These rules regarding probation, suspension, and reenrollment pertain only to the History graduate program. Graduate College regulations regarding probation and suspension will continue to regulate admission to the University and enrollment in course work outside the History Department.

Students with two or more incomplete grades in history will not be allowed to enroll in any graduate course in history.  For instructional assistants, no student with more than one incomplete grade at the beginning of the spring semester will be eligible to retain their assistantship for that semester. No second-year student with an incomplete grade at the beginning of the fall semester will be eligible for an assistantship for that semester.

Course Work: Planning Your Degree

Other than Historiography and Methods and General Research Seminar, all graduate level courses are classified as either readings or research seminars. Readings seminars emphasize broad reading in a specific area and do not require a research paper. Research seminars combine topical readings with a research project.

All history graduate students are required to take Historiography and Methods and General Research Seminar. To enroll in these courses students must complete the Special Approval Form, which, once approved, will allow them to register. If the class is full, they must fill out the form the next semester to gain access to registration.

The Foundation: Historiography and Methods

The History Department believes that its graduate students are best prepared to undertake serious graduate study by a general introduction to the discipline of History. This introduction will be provided in the Historiography and Methods class, which all students should take their first or second semester of study. The course contains a methodological component and requires a formal paper designed to help students prepare for future reading and research projects in other courses. The formal paper may serve as the introductory analysis of an area of history to be pursued in the student's master's thesis or comprehensive exams (see below).

Sharpening your Skills: The General Research Seminar

All students, regardless of track (thesis or non-thesis) and specialization (History, History Education, or Public History) will converge in the General Research Seminar, which meets every semester. Students are advised to take the seminar at the beginning of their second year, or after accumulating at least 18 graduate hours, and after having completed Historiography and Methods; Public History students should also have completed The Practice of Public History.

The main purpose of the seminar is to provide students with the opportunity to compose a thesis chapter or a research project of thesis chapter quality and to have that work read and critiqued by fellow students, the seminar director, and their prospective thesis or comprehensive exam committee chair. In consultation with the History or Public History advisor, students are strongly encouraged to identify and approach the faculty members who could fulfill such roles prior to requesting authorization to enroll in the seminar (see below: Graduation Requirements).

A grade of incomplete in the General Research Seminar might be allowed under very special circumstances, but any remaining work must be completed within six months. Thesis A cannot be started prior to completion of the seminar.

Optional outside cognate or minor

Students may take up to 6 hours (15 hours for students with concentration in History Education) of work in an optional field in another department, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, and, for Public History students, the Public History Advisor. Students may either complete only the 6-hour cognate or pursue the additional hours in another field necessary to receive an official minor from the outside department. In the latter case, the History Department will count only six hours in the outside field toward the History degree requirements. Students who choose the cognate option must ask the Graduate Advisor or Public History Advisor to add it to their degree plans.

Theses and Comps: Graduation Requirements

Students are expected to use the General Research Seminar as the first major building block towards completing their thesis or comprehensive examination work. Thesis students should use it as an opportunity to start working on a draft of their thesis project. Non-thesis students should focus on writing an essay that incorporates primary sources, a revised version of which could provide the foundation of one of their comprehensive examination essays.

The Thesis Track

In deciding whether to pursue the thesis track, students should consult the following guidelines in order to be fully aware of what a thesis entails. They should consult with the history or public history advisor early on. While students can switch tracks, it is advised that the decision on whether to pursue a thesis is made not later than at the end of the first year, or the student might be required to take additional courses to fulfill graduation requirements.

Thesis students are strongly advised to enroll in Thesis A [5399A] the same semester in which they will be taking General Research Seminar (usually the third semester). This will allow them to carve out enough time to locate and analyze primary sources as well as incorporate them into their seminar research paper and, later, into the thesis project.

Thesis A and Thesis B: Enrolling in Thesis Hours

All thesis students must have three hours of credit in Thesis A [5399A] (taken the first semester of thesis work only), and at least three hours of credit in Thesis B [5399B] (taken during the second and subsequent semesters of thesis work). For students who need to retain full-time status while writing the thesis, 1-, 3-, 5- and 9-credit hour options for Thesis B are available. Students generally should have completed at least 18 graduate hours in history before enrolling in Thesis A. To be eligible to register for Thesis A, a student must have completed an Application for Permission to Write a Thesis and secured the signature of the thesis advisor and, if possible, the proposed members of the thesis committee. To receive a passing grade in Thesis A, students must defend their thesis proposal (5-8 PAGES) before a committee appointed by the History or Public History advisor. To register for Thesis B, a student must have taken General Research Seminar and Thesis A as well as completed the Thesis Proposal Form, to be filed with the Graduate College.

It is the student's responsibility to submit a completed and signed copy of the proposal to the Department as well. Students who fail the defense of their thesis prospectus will be advised to switch tracks.

Writing the Thesis

Students seeking an M.A. in History with thesis will complete an essay of appropriate length and depth based on substantial research in primary source materials. Public History theses must have a Public History component and, in most cases, they should be directed or co-directed by Public History faculty, although there may be exceptions. The following guidelines provide a thorough explanation of the thesis. Be sure to also consult the Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis BEFORE beginning the writing process, as the guide provides templates with the proper formatting that will make the final submission a much easier endeavor.

The topic of the thesis, the research to be undertaken, and the nature of the final product will be determined through consultations between the student and the thesis advisor. The final paper will be read and critiqued by a thesis committee composed of the advisor, a second reader from the History Department, and a third reader who may be either a historian or a faculty member from another discipline (if the student took a minor outside of History). The student must successfully defend the thesis before the committee to receive the M.A. degree.

The Department requires students to turn in the final draft to their committee members at least two weeks before the defense. The committee chair, in consultation with the student, will coordinate the time and date of the defense. The defense should be scheduled with the Department no later than one week before the Graduate College’s Final Date for Thesis Defense (as post-defense revisions might be necessary). The History Department´s internal deadline for the defense to occur is one business day before the Graduate College’s deadline.

Defending the Thesis

For students completing a thesis, the comprehensive oral exam required by the Graduate College will consist essentially but not exclusively of a defense of the thesis presented. Students should check with each faculty member involved in the oral exam to determine the scope of the issues to be covered. If the examination is to cover matters beyond the student’s defense of the thesis, the student must take care to discover exactly what aspects of previous course work will or will not be considered fair game for each examiner. The student's thesis supervisor and the second and third readers will administer this examination.  Please note that there are two Graduate College forms that require the signatures of all committee members—the Thesis Submission Approval Form (approval of the thesis, which must be submitted at least one week before the thesis is uploaded in Vireo) and Master's Comprehensive Exam Report Form (approval of the oral defense portion, which must be submitted no later than ten days before the anticipated date of graduation).

The decision to grant exceptions to these general policies rests on the History and Public History program advisors.

The “Comps” Track

Purpose of Comprehensive Exams
For students not writing a thesis, comprehensive examinations are intended to demonstrate the ability to synthesize historical knowledge acquired in their fields of study from a variety of material covered in regular courses and additional readings. Students are expected to incorporate analysis and insights from readings into a conceptual framework that illustrates mastery of the subject.

Procedures
Effective in the fall of 2023, Comprehensive exams should be taken during the last semester of course work. Students must enroll in HIS5388 Comprehensive Exams and will only get credit if they pass their exams.  The class can be retaken once. If, under extraordinary circumstances, the student needs an additional term to complete their examinations, the student must enroll in Comprehensive Examination Contingency (GC 5100). This course requires an override from the Graduate College degree audit office. Students will need to contact the History or Public History advisor so the override can be requested on their behalf.

The Comps Committee
The written and oral comprehensive exams are overseen by a committee of three faculty members, consisting of the student’s graduate advisor (major field) as chair and two members representing the other focus areas of study. Students will select their committee members in consultation with the History or Public History advisor. While students are strongly encouraged to select their comps advisor (committee chair) at the end of their first year and before enrolling in General Research Seminar, the full committee must be formed no later than the end of the semester prior to the semester in which they wish to graduate. Once a committee has been agreed upon, the student is responsible for contacting the committee members and requesting their participation. A Comprehensive Examination Committee Form that includes the signatures of all committee members must be completed and submitted to the History Department office no later than the third week of the semester in which the student wishes to graduate.

Taking the Comps
During the first few weeks of the semester in which the exam is to be completed, if not earlier, each of the designated faculty will submit to the student ideally one question to be answered in essay form. These questions will also serve as preparation for the oral exam. Essays must be completed and submitted to the appropriate committee member by October 15 (for the fall semester), March 15 (for the spring semester) or June 30 (for the summer term). Committee members may designate alternative deadlines based on the University calendar.

Committee members will review their respective essays within two weeks of receipt and inform the student and the committee chair if the essays are approved as submitted or if revisions are required. If revisions are requested, a new deadline for completion will be provided.  Once the essays meet with the approval of the committee members, an oral exam based on the content of the written exams and any other material covered in the classes that the student took with committee members will be scheduled. The committee chair, in consultation with the student, will coordinate the time and date of the final oral exam.

Preferably, the exam should be scheduled no later than one week before the Graduate College’s Final Date for Thesis Defense. The History Department´s internal deadline for the oral exam to occur is one business day before the Graduate College’s deadline for the submission of paperwork.

Student performance on the oral exam is evaluated as either passing or failing. Outstanding student performance may be designated as passing with distinction. Students who do not pass the oral exam may be allowed to retake the exam one time only. The scheduling of the second oral exam is at the discretion of the committee but is encouraged for no earlier than the subsequent semester. The student may be required to prepare new comprehensive exam essays should the faculty membership of the committee change. Exams must be completed within one year of the student’s last semester of classes except under extraordinary circumstances.

Foreign Language Requirement

Students working in areas outside of U.S. or British history may be required to pass a foreign language reading examination. All students planning to pursue a Ph.D. are encouraged to pass a foreign language reading examination as this competency will be required of them in their doctoral programs.

Applying for Graduation

Graduate students must apply online for graduation.  Current and future graduation application deadlines can be found on the Graduate College website. Students should submit their applications by the appropriate deadline as the Graduate College does not accept late applications. There is no cost associated with the graduation application, and there is no penalty for not completing degree requirements as anticipated after submitting the application; in those instances, students would submit another application for graduation before the deadline for the next session.

Assistantships

The History Department offers a limited number of assistantships to graduate students to help fund their graduate education. These assistantships normally require the recipient to serve as an Instructional Assistant (IA) to faculty members teaching large sections of the introductory courses. Duties include––but are not necessarily limited to––attending all classes, taking attendance, holding office hours, meeting with students, gathering class materials, and grading papers. Students who wish to be considered for an IA position must complete an Application for Instructional Assistantship form and submit it to the department office. Instructional Assistantships will normally be awarded for one full academic year assuming competent performance of assigned duties and acceptable progress toward completion of the degree. Instructional Assistantships, which may be renewed for one additional year on the same basis, will be awarded by the graduate faculty, with the Chair's approval, based on the recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee. Occasionally, other types of assistantships are available.

To maintain an Instructional Assistantship:

  1. Students must enroll in Instructional Methods Practicum for History Assistants [5301] during the first semester in which they hold an assistantship. Although this course will count toward the 9-hour load, it will not count as credit toward the degree. The university pays the tuition for this course. Typically, students enroll only in two courses during the semester in which they begin their instructional assistantship, as the practicum counts for the remaining 3 credit hours.
  2. The student must enroll in at least 9 hours of graduate course work (including thesis work) during each long semester until all course work is completed; at least 3 of those hours must be in History. Students may not take more than 9 hours of graduate work in any long semester without the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Department Chair.
  3. Students on Instructional and other types of assistantships must maintain at least a 9-hour load for the entire semester. Failure to do so will result in the loss of the assistantship the following semester. In addition, students must have completed satisfactorily 15 graduate hours by the beginning of their third long semester.
  4. No student who receives a final grade of C or lower in a History graduate course will be eligible for an assistantship the following semester.
  5. No student with more than one incomplete grade at the beginning of the spring semester will be eligible to retain their assistantship for that semester.
  6. No second-year student with an incomplete grade at the beginning of the fall semester will be eligible for an assistantship for that semester.

Scholarships in History

The deadline for departmental graduate scholarships is March 1st. The Department uses the BOSS system for all Departmental scholarships. For a full list of available scholarships, please visit the History Department’s Scholarship website.

Scholarships available through the Graduate College include the Celebrity Classic and Graduate College Scholarships and the Thesis Research Support Fellowship.  For application information, go to Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships at Texas StateThe deadline for Graduate College applications varies but it is generally February 1.

Leave of Absence Policy

Students are expected to enroll each long semester (fall and spring term; summer is optional) to make progress toward their degree. However, they may need to interrupt their progress by “stopping out” for a short period due to personal or family exigency. While there is an expectation of enrollment each semester, there is no specific continuous enrollment requirement. For that reason, the Graduate College does not require notification if a student decides not to enroll in a given semester. However, the student may want to inform their advisor that they are stopping out. In those cases, the student may complete the Leave of Absence Form for Master’s Degree, Specialist Degree, and Pre-Candidacy Doctoral Degree Students form and provide it to their advisor. The program should then provide the form to The Graduate College to expedite readmission. Please note that if the student has exceeded the six-year time limit to complete a master's degree, they must contact their graduate advisor to request a time extension.

Please review the reapplication process for returning to the university after stopping out.

Requests for Exceptions to History Graduate Policies

In extraordinary individual circumstances the student may request from the Graduate Committee specific variances to any of the History Department's internal policies relating to the graduate program. Such requests should be addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will convene the Graduate Committee to rule on such requests.

Necessary forms are available online through the departmental web page, or in main office.