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Columbia, MO 65211
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MA in History

Degree Requirements

A minimum of two semesters of full-time enrollment (9 hours each semester) or three semesters of part-time enrollment (6 hours each semester). Enrollment in all graduate courses requires the consent of the student’s advisor and the instructor(s) of the class.


Thirty semester hours of graduate credit are required by the Graduate School for the MA degree. The Graduate School also mandates that at least fifteen of these hours be in courses numbered 8000 or above, and will not count more than twelve hours of individually directed studies toward the thirty hours necessary to earn the degree. The department requires that at least twenty of these hours be in history. For students of United States history, at least fifteen hours must be in formally constituted US history courses. For students in the non-United States history program, at least twelve hours must be in formally constituted non-US history courses. Independently directed work does not count toward fulfilling this requirement in either category.

Required Courses

A studies course in every semester in which as many as nine credit hours are carried, unless the student is granted an exemption by the director of graduate studies. Every master’s student must take HIST 8080 Maximizing Graduate Studies in History, during their first year or the first year it is offered upon their arrival. Students may take HIST 8080 for 1-3 credits. Every master’s student must take HIST 8480 Historiography unless excused by the director of graduate studies. HIST 8480 is offered regularly.

Students must either write a thesis or defend two seminar papers to receive an MA.

No master’s candidates are required by the department to demonstrate reading proficiency in any foreign languages before receiving the MA degree. However, in fields where such languages will be necessary for success, advisors shall make clear to applicants what they expect in terms of language competence. Expectations must be clearly stated before or when offers of admission are sent. The student’s acknowledgment of these terms will be confirmed in a written response (including email) either separate from, or within, their acceptance of the offer of admission. 

Special Note: No student will receive graduate credit for any course in which s/he earns a grade below B. The grade of C in a graduate class is the equivalent of an F in an undergraduate course.

Satisfactory Progress and Annual Review

Each spring semester, students must complete a graduate student activity in myVITA. The student's faculty advisor will report and determine if the student is making satisfactory progress toward a degree. The student and advisor should meet to discuss the student's progress, confirm expectations for the coming year, and address any concerns either one may have regarding the report. 

If the student is making satisfactory progress, the advisor and the student decide together on what reasonable goals are for the next twelve months. These goals will define "satisfactory progress" at the next assessment meeting. Failure to do so may result in loss of financial aid or dismissal from the program. 

Effect of Progress Report Completion on Funding

Completion of the activity report in myVITA is mandatory to maintain eligibility for financial aid from the department. Receipt of financial aid requires confirmation by a student’s advisor that they are making satisfactory progress. No student in the program who applies for or who is seeking renewal of financial aid will be eligible for aid without a complete and up-to-date myVITA on file.

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Thesis/Non-Thesis Requirements

Plans for MA Degrees: Thesis plan

Students who wish to apply for admission to doctoral programs in history either at the University of Missouri or at other institutions are expected to write a MA thesis. A thesis involves an original and extended analysis of historical issue that requires substantial research. The topic of the thesis must be approved in advance by the student’s faculty director and the thesis committee, which is composed of the director, at least one other member of the history faculty, and one faculty member from outside the department.

The Graduate School regulations require that there be an outside faculty person on each thesis committee. At the discretion of the advisor, additional faculty members may be added to the committee. The appropriate forms, signed by the advisor and the director of graduate studies, will be submitted to the Graduate School.

Students will take HIST 8090, Thesis Research, during those semesters they are actually engaged in writing their thesis. The Graduate School only permits six hours of HIST 8090 to count toward the 30 hours necessary to earn a master’s degree. Students should also note that hours earned in HIST 8090 do count toward the maximum of 12 hours of independent study, i.e., HIST 8085 (Problems), HIST 8089 (Research), and HIST 8090 (Thesis Research), that the Graduate School will accept as credit for this degree.

Plans for MA Degrees: Non-Thesis Plan

Students may earn a master’s degree without writing a thesis. A non-thesis MA is a terminal degree. Those who receive it will not be considered for admission to the doctoral program at MU. These students must successfully complete two research seminars in history. These seminars will count toward the thirty hours required for an MA degree. One of the seminar papers must be submitted to the department to fulfill the Graduate School requirement for a substantial effort reflecting creativity or originality.

Examination for the MA degree: For Thesis Plan

The student must defend their thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members, one of whom must be the thesis director. Another must be from a department other than History. The committee is appointed by the Graduate School upon recommendation from the Department of History. The examining committee decides:

  1. whether to recommend the awarding of the MA degree to the student
  2. for prospective doctoral candidates, whether the student shall be permitted to enter the doctoral program.

This latter action constitutes a decision on the qualifying examination required in the doctoral program. Afterwards, the appropriate form(s) will be signed by the advisor, committee members, and the director of graduate studies, then sent to the Graduate School.

Examination for the MA degree: For Non-Thesis Plan

A comprehensive oral examination covering all work for the degree will be conducted by a committee of the advisor and at least two other faculty members, one of whom may be from a department other than history. The examining committee decides whether to recommend the awarding of the MA degree. Afterwards, the appropriate form(s) will be signed by the advisor, committee members, and the director of graduate studies, then sent to the Graduate School.

Graduate School Deadlines for receipt of the MA degree

Students must meet the Graduate Schools' deadlines for the awarding of degrees and the submission of theses. The final form of the thesis must be in conformity with the Graduate School requirements.

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Admission Criteria

The application deadline falls in January. See Graduate School application for specific date. 

Candidates who lack the necessary undergraduate hours in history must take graduate-level classes in history to remedy that deficiency before they can be considered for admission. They should consult with the director of graduate studies about appropriate classes. Graduate School regulations prohibit a non-degree student from taking more than twelve hours of course work.

Candidates must achieve a grade point average in these classes of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale to be considered for admission. A 3.3 GPA or higher does not guarantee admission. Course work taken as a non-degree student to remedy a deficiency in prerequisites ordinarily will not count toward the MA degree.

Required Application Materials

To the Graduate School:

  • All required Graduate School documents, including Graduate School online application
  • One uploaded copy of each college transcript where a degree was earned or is pending (official transcripts will be required upon admission)
  • Short essay explaining goals and expectations in graduate study, including the fields in which the student plans to specialize and any specific faculty with whom the applicant hopes to work 
  • Substantial writing sample, such as a final research paper from a course (upload to the online application)
  • 3 letters of recommendation (submission through the online application system strongly preferred, but postal mail submission directly to the department allowed)
  • Official GRE score report, recommended but not required
  • English language proficiency demonstration for international applicants (see MU Graduate school requirements) 

Note: Incomplete applications will not be considered. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all required documents have been received by the January deadline.

Admission Contact Information

Scott Munsen (scmh5z@missouri.edu)
615 Locust Street Building, W110F

Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-0250

Financial Aid from the Program

This department provides qualified students the opportunity to gain college-level teaching experience as teaching assistants for undergraduate courses under the direction of a senior instructor. 

Pending administrative approval and availability of funding, students on half-time fellowships earn stipends of at least $19,373.00 at the MA level. Applicants may be nominated for competitive Graduate School fellowships awarded to entering students which may provide additional stipend funding.

Each appointment is subject to annual review and may be renewed up to a maximum of two years.

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