Jun 23, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog


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Abigail Balbale, PhD, Harvard University

  • Medieval Mediterranean and Islamic history
  • Conflict and coexistence among Jews, Christians, and Muslims
  • Material culture

Paul Bookbinder, PhD, Brandeis University

  • History of Germany
  • Holocaust
  • Political violence

Vincent Cannato, PhD, Columbia University

  • Twentieth-century American political history
  • Urban history
  • Immigration

Jonathan M. Chu, PhD, University of Washington

  • Colonial America
  • American Revolution
  • American legal history

Spencer DiScala, PhD, Columbia University

  • Modern Italy
  • History of socialism
  • Nineteenth-and 20th-century Europe

Heidi Gengenbach, PhD, University of Minnesota

  • East and southern Africa, particularly social and environmental history , gender, food security, rural livelihoods, humanitarian intervention, oral history

Timothy A. Hacsi, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

  • Nineteenth- and 20th-century United States
  • History of public policy
  • History of poverty and welfare
  • History of education

Sana Haroon, PhD, University of London

  • Islam in early modern and modern South Asia
  • History of Pakistan and Afghanistan

David Hunt, PhD, Harvard University

  • French social history
  • Peasant society
  • Vietnam

Benjamin Johnson, PhD, University of Chicago

  • Latin America, Mesoamerica, and Mexican history
  • Brazil
  • Histories of colonialism

Elizabeth McCahill, PhD, Princeton University

  • The City of Rome
  • The Papal Court
  • Humanism in the early 15th century

Ruth Miller, PhD, Princeton University

  • Modern Middle East
  • Ottoman Islamic law in the modern period

Joshua Reid, PhD, University of California Davis

  • American Indian and indigenous
  • Borderlands
  • Environment

Olivier Weisser, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

  • History of medicine
  • Early modern Britain
  • Women’s and gender history

Julie Winch, PhD, Bryn Mawr College

  • Afro-American history
  • Maritime history

Roberta L. Wollons, PhD, University of Chicago

  • American Progressive Era history
  • Women’s history
  • History of education

Part-Time Faculty

Maryann Brink, PhD, Brown University

  • Medieval
  • Legal history
  • Renaissance and Reformation

Thomas Johnson, ABD, Boston University

  • African history

Gary Miller, PhD, Yale University

  • Early modern Europe


The Program

The History Department offers a master’s degree in history with a choice of four tracks: history, history and archival methods, history teaching, and public history.


The MA program in history offers a rigorous set of courses that emphasize skills such historical research and methods, historiography, critical thinking and analysis, and writing. The MA program offers a wide array of courses on various topics in American, European, and non-Western history. Both demanding and flexible, the program suits those students who intend to pursue a PhD as well as those who seek a career in secondary-school teaching. Students who wish to pursue advanced studies for their own intellectual enjoyment and development or test their capacity for graduate work also benefit from the program’s design. All graduate courses consist of seminars that are capped at 15 students, therefore affording the graduate student close faculty attention and support.

History and Archival Methods

The Department of History offers both an archives track in its History MA Program and a graduate-level certificate in archives. Both programs introduce students to archival practices; traditional methods of preserving, arranging, describing and providing access to information; and digital technologies and skills for preserving born digital materials.

Archivists acquire, manage, preserve, and provide access to historical records of all kinds. They work with individuals, groups, institutions, companies, and governments to preserve and retrieve materials with historical value. They help groups and organizations rediscover their past, assist communities in documenting their cultures, and serve citizens searching for family and personal histories. Today, archivists collaborate with other professionals to utilize digital technologies and other media to maximize access to important historical resources. The archives track and certificate in archives prepare students to enter this exciting information-age field.

While archivists are charged to preserve and provide access to the past, they are more than custodians of records. In their choices to acquire, arrange, describe, and provide access to material, they shape the historical record. The nature of the work infuses archivists with power; their daily choices — what to retain and discard, how to preserve, what to emphasize, and what to showcase — construct the past to a degree. Learning the theory, methodology, and current practices of archival science enriches the work of historians just as understanding historians’ methodology and research needs can enhance how archivists approach their work.

History Teaching

The history teaching track is specially designed to meet the needs of current and prospective secondary-school teachers of history and social studies. It emphasizes extensive and varied course work in history, culminating in a  capstone project rather than a thesis. It is not a teacher licensure program. Students interested in teacher licensure should consult with the Graduate College of Education and Human Development’s Teacher Education Program to determine the requirements for licensure at either the initial or professional level. Those requirements may be satisfied in coordination with the History MA Program.

Public History

Public historians study the way we remember and interpret the past.  They use historical methodologies to preserve, collect, present, and interpret history with and for public audiences. Public historians work with historic landscapes, sites, parks, and monuments; in museums and historic buildings; on film and in digital media; and with community groups and organizations, families, and institutions. Public historians help people understand personal and community histories and their relationships to broader historical contexts. 

The public history track prepares students to become professional historians who are not only engaged with public life, but also possess a firm foundation in historical methods and scholarship. The program trains students in public history practice, as well as theoretical foundations of the field, and prepares them for professional roles in government agencies such as the National Park Service, historical societies, museums and historic houses, and libraries. Public historians are playing a larger and larger role as scholars and practitioners in the professional field of American history.

Training in historical methodology is a crucial foundation for practicing public historians, thus public history students earn an MA in history, rather than a specialized MA in public history or public history and archives. Public history students need to gain strong subject area knowledge and research skills as well as an introduction to the theory and methods of public history.

The mission of UMass Boston’s public history track within the history MA program is:

  • To prepare students to become professional historians with the knowledge and skills to analyze, preserve, and interpret the past with and for a broad range of audiences and communities
  • To provide students with practical experiences in historical and cultural institutions
  • To serve as a space for students, faculty, and practitioners to collaborate on civically engaged historical projects.


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