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Masters Program

The M.A. program is designed to introduce students to the basic skills of historical research as well as to the debates about, and the approaches to, historical scholarship in a specific field. Master’s students ordinarily do not receive financial aid from the department or the university. 

General Requirements

The master’s program can be completed in one year of full-time study or two years of half-time study and includes nine four-unit courses (thirty-six units) in a major field. Required courses vary for each major field (see below), but all courses must be taken for a letter grade. Students may apply no more than two, upper-division undergraduate courses to their MA coursework. With very few exceptions, students are expected to begin their programs in the fall quarter. In addition to the course requirements, completion of the MA requires that students pass a one-hour oral examination at the end of their final quarter of enrollment.

Language Requirement

While proficiency in a foreign language is only required in European history (see below), prospective applicants are strongly urged to begin the study of a foreign language appropriate to the proposed area of concentration as early as possible in their academic careers. 

Oral Exam

At the end of the final quarter of enrollment, Masters' students must pass a comprehensive one-hour oral exam in their field with three faculty examiners who have worked with them. The main examiner (usually the faculty advisor or Research Seminar instructor) will approve the student's orals list, consisting of 40 to 70 books and articles that have been read over the course of the year. The student may also identify general themes as a way to organize the questioning during the exam. The student should provide all members of the examining committee with a copy of the list, at least one week before the exam.

An MA may also be awarded to continuing Ph.D. students (who do not already have an MA in History or closely related fields) upon successfully passing the oral qualifying examination for Ph.D. advancement.

The MA is not automatically awarded; students (MA and Ph.D.) must file an Application for MA (due week three)
Final Report for MA.

Completing the MA Degree

In addition to the oral exam, students must apply for the MA at the beginning of their final quarter in the program, and submit the Final Report of the MA following their oral exam. This requirement also applies to Ph.D. students who wish to receive an MA on the way to the Ph.D.

Necessary Documents for the MA

  • Application for MA (due week three)
  • Final Report for MA

Make an appointment to meet with the Graduate Coordinator around week 8 of the quarter before you plan to graduate (or Advance to Candidacy) to prepare both forms for filing. Come to the meeting with a list of the courses (Status Sheet--see below) you took to fulfill the requirements for your field of study. If there is not a Status Sheet for your field of study, please use the Special Field status sheet. Depending on your field of study, you may need to file coursework petitions prior to completing the application for the MA.

Best Practices for Completing the Application for the MA and Final Report via DocuSign:
  • Ahead of your exam ask faculty to add as a “safe sender” so those emails are less likely to go to junk/spam. Although campus IT has taken steps to identify DocuSign as a safe sender, it is still recommended that individual users do so as well.
  • At the end of your Exam/Defense ask your committee members to check their email for the DocuSign email with the link to the form and sign while you're all online together.
  • If the link is not in their inbox:
    • ask the faculty to check their junk folder, spam quarantine, or other spam folders
    • next, ask them to log into their DocuSign account using their email address and SSO credentials to access the form/s directly ( *some people have personal DocuSign accounts so ask them to ensure they are logging into the UCSD DocuSign account
  • Get verbal confirmation of who has signed and who has not, then follow up with the Graduate Coordinator to resolve any issues your committee members have with signing the form.
  • Once the appropriate form is submitted to the Graduate Division, the appropriate fee will be charged directly to the student’s financial TritonLink account.


Fields of Study


Candidates for the M.A. degree in European history pursue a program concentrating on the history of early modern and modern Europe. Some training in a discipline other than history is also recommended. The requirement of nine courses (thirty-six units) is normally distributed as follows:

  1. A two-quarter research seminar, either HIGR 230.
  2. Cross-Field Historiography Course: HIGR 200.
  3. European Historiography Courses: HIGR 220, 221 and/or 222. Each year 1-2 of these historiography courses are offered, and the student must take these.
  4. Two courses in pre-industrial Europe 1450-1750: HIGR 220 and 221, or HIGR 230 may be counted for this distribution requirement. Note: HIGR 221 may NOT be used for both (3) and (4).
  5. Two courses in industrial Europe since 1750: HHIGR 221, 222, or HIGR 231 may be counted for this requirement, as well as appropriate graduate-level colloquia.
  6. One course in a discipline other than history, if relevant to the student's program.
  7. The remaining courses may be chosen, in consultation with the graduate adviser in the student's field, from among the available undergraduate/graduate colloquia (#260s-280s).



The MA program in History of Science provides a broad background in, and preparation for, a variety of careers related to science and technology, business, journalism, education, government, or for more advanced degree work. The nine courses (thirty-six units) required are normally distributed as follows:

  1. Two courses in science in early modern Europe.
  2. Two courses in science since 1750.
  3. A two-quarter research seminar.
  4. The remaining courses are chosen in consultation with the faculty in history of science. For students whose previous training has been mainly scientific, these will include courses in historical fields other than the history of science. For students who already have historical training, they may include one or more courses related to the sciences.

United States

This area of concentration offers the MA candidate a broad grounding in the literature of American history from the colonial period to the present. In addition to a shared core of courses, students specialize in a topical field of their own choosing. Training in a related discipline outside of history is encouraged. The requirement of nine courses (thirty-six units) is distributed as follows:

  1. HIGR 265A-B-C: The literature of American History. These colloquia are required of all entering graduate students in United States history.
  2. A two-quarter research seminar.
  3. Two courses in a single topical field chosen from African-American history, Asian-American history, history of the borderlands and Southwest, Chicano history, economic history, legal and constitutional history, political history, social and cultural history, history of the South, history of the West, or history of women, gender and sexuality.
  4. Two additional courses (eight units) chosen in consultation with the student's adviser. These courses may be in a related field outside the department.
  5. At least six of the nine courses must be colloquia or graduate-level courses. Students may take conjoined courses, directed readings, research seminars, or the 265 series to meet this requirement

Please use the below status sheet to track the completion of these requirements.

Special Field of Study

The department offers the opportunity for students to design a special master's program in any area of research our faculty feel they can support (eg. African history, medieval European history). In consultation with an appropriate faculty member, students may petition the department for approval of a special field MA.

Field Curriculum Status Sheets

About the Status Sheet

The Status Sheet was originally developed for use by staff as an administrative tool. It tracks the coursework requirements that staff needs to check in order to ensure you are administratively prepared for the Oral Exam and to fill out the Application for the MA. This should be filled out to the best of your ability prior to meeting with the Graduate Coordinator about preparing the paperwork for your MA or MA on the Way.

Status Sheets 

All status sheets are word docs. Please download the form, click on each line to fill out the form, and save the form using the following naming convention: [FamilyName]_[First Initial]-Status Sheet [YEAR-MO-DA], ex. Triton_K-Status Sheet 2020-09-23. Further, please list the dates Language Exams were passed. Also, please indicate the quarter all courses listed on the status sheet were taken (this is especially important for 298s), ex. HIGR 200 (FA20). Finally, if you plan to use a 298 to fulfill the course requirement for either the Research Seminar or Historiography requirements you need to fill out a general petition to have that substitution approved and documented.