Oct 18, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog

History, MA

Degree Requirements

Students in the history MA program must choose from one of three tracks of study:

  • History
  • Public History
  • Archives

Choosing one of these tracks gives students the option to concentrate on specialized training for particular professional paths. However all students, regardless of their track, will receive a firm foundation in the craft and methods of history. All students, regardless of their track, will receive a MA degree in history.

Each track has specific requirements. Students should familiarize themselves with the requirements for the track in which they are registered. In addition to these three tracks in the MA program, the History Department also offers a Certificate in Archives. The certificate is not an MA degree, but it can be earned while also earning a MA in history.

All history MA students must complete the following in order graduate:

In addition to the above requirements, each track has its own set of requirements.

History Track

The History Track is the traditional MA path for graduate students. Students in the History Track are required to write a thesis. The History Track emphasizes historical research methods as well as historical writing and analysis of primary and secondary sources. Students who choose the History Track also take a large number of history elective courses to broaden their knowledge of history.


Students must take 5 elective courses of their choice.

History Track Sequence


All students in the History Track must complete a thesis as their final project. The thesis stands as the culmination of a student’s graduate work. The thesis should be approximately 50-70 pages long and based on original research. It is written under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor and defended before a committee of three faculty members.

Online Option

As part of its MA program, the History Department also offers an exclusively online MA degree. One of the few online MA programs in history in the country, this program is both academically rigorous, while being flexible enough for students who are not able to enroll in a traditional face-to-face MA program because of work or personal obligations. All online courses are taught by full-time UMass Boston history faculty. The program includes a wide array of required and elective courses, along with a supervised research and writing project. The requirements and expectations for the online MA program are identical to those of the regular MA program. Only the History Track is available for online MA students.

Tuition and Fees

The online history MA program is administered by the Office of Distance Learning & Online Education in the College of Advancing and Professional Studies (CAPS). The cost for the online history MA program is $490 per credit for both Massachusetts residents and non-residents. There are also some additional fees required of online students. Detailed information on tuition and fees can be found on College of Advancing and Professional Studies  page.

Archives Track

Training in historical methodology provides a crucial foundation for practicing archivists in the 21st century. Thus, archives students earn an MA in history with a concentration in archives, rather than an MA in library and informational science with a concentration in archives. Today, in an age in which information is created in various forms at expontential rates, archivists must learn to preserve and provide long-term access to materials and also learn to create, present, and archive history online. As technologies rapidly evolve, archivists must continually learn new technological skills throughout their career. Acquiring and mastering research and critical-thinking skills in history, rather than learning only technical skills, provides archivists with a vast and deep foundational knowledge and subject area expertise. This imbues them with an invaluable and transferable skill: the ability to assess and recognize the intrinsic research value to collections.

The mission of the UMass Boston Archives Track within the history MA program is:

  • To provide students with a firm theoretical knowledge and hands-on training to prepare them to become professional archivists with technical skills, subject-area knowledge, research skills, and abilities to manage archival collections and electronic records
  • To provide students with practical experience in archives, special collections libraries, historical societies, and cultural institutions
  • To provide a space for students, faculty, and professional archivists to collaborate on digital archives and exhibits that increase public access to collections.

Students in the Archives Track have the option of writing a thesis or a capstone. All archives students should consult with the director of the archives program about their final project and whether they should write a thesis or a capstone.

NOTE: For information about the Certificate in Archives program, go to History Archives (Graduate Certificate)  .


The number of electives students take depends on their choice of capstone (which leaves 9 credits for electives) or thesis (which leave 3 credits for electives).


Archives Track Sequence

Public History Track

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 the worldwide web; and with community groups and organizations, families, and institutions.

They also study public awareness and consciousness of the past and how various actors, including public intellectuals and public interest groups, seek to “raise” historical consciousness and nurture historical thinking.

Training in historical methodology is a crucial foundation for practicing public historians. That is reflected in the structure of our program—public history students earn an MA in history rather than a specialized MA in public history. 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. This model provides a cross-disciplinary approach that benefits professional training for public history students. The mission of UMass Boston’s Public History Track 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;
  • And, to serve as a space for students, faculty, and practitioners to collaborate on civically engaged historical projects.


The number of electives students take depends on their choice of capstone (which leaves 12 credits for electives) or thesis (which leave 6 credits for electives).

Public History Track Sequence

Professional Training and Development Requirement

To ensure that students build networks within and outside UMass Boston, all Public History Track students are required to participate in four skills-based programs during the course of their graduate career. Even students attending UMass Boston part-time should be able to meet the requirements before graduation if they do one professional development activity per semester.

Students are encouraged to attend workshops, seminars, conferences, webinars, or institutes related to public history, digital humanities, or community engagement. Students should inquire with the director of public history before selecting a specific program. Only one of four programs can be virtual. These opportunities will offer public history students familiarity and training in a variety of professional skills areas important in the work of public historians and provide crucial venues and practice in networking.

There are multiple opportunities out there for aspiring public historians. Students should consult with the public history director or the public history internship coordinator before participating in a program to ensure that such a program meets the requirements.

In order to receive credit for the professional training and development requirement, students must submit proper documentation (confirmation letter, receipt, name tag, etc.) to the director of public history, who will keep track of students’ progress. Students who write a thesis must complete the professional training and development requirement before they schedule a thesis defense. Students who write a capstone will not receive their final capstone grade until they have completed the professional training and development requirement.

Admission Requirements

Please see the general statement of admission requirements for all graduate studies programs in the “Admissions ” section of this publication. The History Department only admits incoming graduate students in the fall semester. See the department website for application submission dates. Applicants must submit evidence that they are able to perform graduate work at a high level of competence. Graduate Record Examination scores should be submitted if available for all programs. Applicants will normally be expected to have majored in history as undergraduates and maintained a 3.0 cumulative average in the major.

Transfer Credits

Students may transfer a maximum of six credits into their online history MA degree from another institution, contingent upon the approval of the graduate program director. Once students have matriculated into the online MA program, they must submit copies of relevant course syllabi, a copy of the transcript with the course grade, and a completed Graduate Transfer Credit Approval Form to the graduate program director. In order to receive transfer credit for an outside course, the course must be taught at the graduate-level at an accredited university or college and meet the UMass Boston History Department’s minimum standards in terms of course requirements. Students must have received a grade of “B” or higher in the class and may not have used such credits toward a previous degree. No credits earned more than seven years prior to matriculation into the online history MA program may be accepted for transfer.

Once students matriculate into the program, they may wish to take a course at another institution. For instance, a student might be interested in a topic that is not offered in the UMass online MA history program, but is offered at another institution. If students are interested in taking a course at another institution, they must seek the pre-approval of the graduate program director before registering for the class. The same process as described above must be followed in order to receive transfer credit and a total of no more than six credits may be transferred into the online history MA degree.