MA Program | History | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

student with mentor

M.A. Program

The Master of Arts in History is a two-year program. Students take coursework in preparation for a capstone research project and comprehensive exams in two historical fields.


The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) assigns each entering M.A. student a faculty advisor. Students should meet with advisors at least once a semester for progress updates. If a student wishes to change advisors, he/she should notify his/her existing advisor, and the director of graduate studies.


MA students (admitted Fall 2012 and later) must complete either 33 credit hours (Thesis Track) or 36 credit hours (Two Paper Track) of graduate credit (400/500 level). Students are encouraged to take graduate level courses outside of History, 10 credits of which may apply to program of study. Students must take History 500 and 501. All students must take 1 colloquium/seminar sequence, and are encouraged to take 2.

Teaching assistants and graders are required to take 2 semesters of History 597. Students may do independent readings (History 490/590) on a given topic with the approval of the mentoring professor. Professor and student should together fill out the Consent for Independent Study form (PDF). Six hours of 490/590 may be applied to the program of study.

Research Tool

M.A. students have four options for the completion of the research tool.

  • Four semesters of previous study of a foreign language as an undergraduate with B average or better;
  • Passage of Foreign Language 488 with a B or better;
  • Passage of a translation test administered by the Foreign Language program; or
  • Students may take two theory or methods courses in another discipline at the 400/500 level, and receive a B or better. Students who choose this option must petition the graduate director in writing for approval of their chosen coursework, explaining how the coursework enriches the student’s research agenda.

Thesis or Two Paper Options

Within the first year of graduate study, students should decide whether to write a thesis, or choose the two research paper option.

Thesis Track

M.A. students (Fall 2012 and later) may choose the thesis track; those who plan to go on for a Ph.D. should write theses, under the supervision of their advisors. The thesis track M.A. in History consists of 33 credit hours of coursework (including six thesis hours), the completion of a research tool (usually proficiency in a foreign language), and the writing and oral defense of a thesis. Students and advisors should together devise committees of at least 3 faculty members to assess the thesis. For additional information on thesis writing, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Getahun Benti,, phone: 618/453-6847.

Two Paper Track

Students who opt for the two paper option (Fall 2012 and later) should prepare two significant research papers, usually in conjunction with History seminar courses. M.A. students who choose the two paper option take an exam in one historical field. In consultation with their advisors, students should select the field in the first year of study, and endeavor to take courses in the field. Students should meet with professors in the field to establish reading lists and ground rules for the exam.

Satisfactory Progress

Progress is measured by timely completion of program requirements and maintenance of 3.0 or better GPA. Failure to maintain satisfactory progress may result in probation or dismissal from the program.

For more information on admissions and a two-year schedule, see the SIU Graduate Catalog.