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The History M.A. Program at Queens College

Applying for Admissions

Students wishing to apply to the History M.A. program as a matriculating degree student or a non-matriculating student must apply online at this link:​. Paper applications are no longer being accepted.


Non-Matriculating Students

As stated above, all students who wish to apply for non-matriculated status must submit an application online through the Graduate Admissions website. Your application must include a copy of all undergraduate transcripts as well as a personal statement of c. 500 words.  The statement is our chance to get to know you beyond your transcript, so use it to discuss your academic background, reasons why you'd like to take MA-level courses in our department, and anything else you consider relevant.  Once you have completed the online application, please notify Dr. Grace Davie, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS, formerly called the Graduate Advisor), that you have done so -- this will ensure that your application receives prompt attention. 

Please note the following policies for non-matriculated students:

  • You can take no more than 12 graduate credits (4 classes).
  • After completion of the first six credits, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and your continued enrollment is subject to the review of the department's Director of Graduate Studies.
  • You cannot enroll for additional classes with more than two incompletes.
  • After your maximum of 12 credits has been reached, you can only continue taking history courses after successfully applying for formal admission to the program.
  • As for all graduate students, your acceptance into the program is contingent upon the discretion of the department.


The M.A. Program
Application to the program is through the Graduate Admissions link above. Your application must include a copy of all academic transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation (at least 2 of which should be from teachers who can comment on your performance in their classes), and a personal statement not to exceed 750 words. The personal statement helps us get to know you beyond your transcripts, so use the opportunity to discuss your academic background, why you'd like to be part of the MA program in History (e.g. professors you'd like to work with, areas you'd like to study), and any other information you deem relevant.  We can only review your application once it is complete, so be sure to follow up with your recommenders to ensure they've submitted their letters.

A student who is formally admitted to the Master of Arts program of the Department of History, Queens College, CUNY, should confer with the Director of Graduate Studies during the first semester of study within the program.

The MA in History at Queens College can be completed by either of two tracks, the “research track” or the “professional track”. The research track is designed for students who have an interest in pursuing the Ph.D. and working as professional historians at the university level. The professional track is designed for those interested in History beyond the undergraduate level who are working fulltime or who otherwise view the MA as their terminal degree in the field. This track is typically useful for schoolteachers at the elementary and secondary level.


Students must notify the Director of Graduate Studies of their initial preferred course of study within 18 credits. Students may apply to the Director of Graduate Studies to switch tracks at any time in their residence, and will be held to the requirements in the new track that they are joining.




The following are the requirements for the research track:

  1. Thirty (30) credits of coursework, which must include Hist 791 (3 credits) and Hist 796 (3 credits).
  2. An approved prospectus for the Master’s thesis. The prospectus is a detailed plan of what the student hopes to achieve with the thesis; the composition of a prospectus, typically around 12-15 pages, is largely the goal of Hist 796.  The student must formally present, or “defend”, the prospectus at a meeting of two faculty readers, who must approve it for the student to advance.
  3. A Master’s thesis. The thesis is an original historical argument based on extensive research in both primary sources and secondary scholarship.  It is written in consultation with a faculty advisor, who must formally approve the final draft.  It must be a minimum of 16,000 words (approximately 65 pages).

The following are the requirements for the professional track:

  1. 36 credits, including HIST 791;
  2. Successful completion of comprehensive examination. (Please note that any MA course except HIST 791 and 796 can be an "exam field" as long as the professor is a fulltime faculty member in the QC History Department.  In other words, your two exams can be on any course that you have taken as an MA student at Queens College, that you are taking now, or that you will take before you graduate. Each 45-minute exam will include two questions; you will choose one to answer.  Exam questions may be thematic, historiographical, and/or content-based.  Your professors will design unique questions for each exam that any student who passed the course should be able to answer after having studied the course readings, lectures, and assignments. The comprehensive exam is PASS/FAIL.  Students will have only one chance to retake a failed exam.
  3. A Capstone Portfolio of 3-4 papers totaling at least 40 pages, accompanied by 1-2 page cover letter explaining what you were trying to accomplish in each essay, and, more importantly, what you have learned as a MA student.  Include at least one historiographical paper and at least one paper in which you analyze primary sources.  If possible, your essays should include your professors' comments.  A public presentation on your own research given at a student conference or Phi Alpha Theta conference may replace one paper, with the DGS's prior approval.

(NB: Some entering students may be required to take additional courses to maintain specified GPAs due to deficiencies in history preparation prior to admission to the program. Such additional requirements, if imposed, are set forth at the time of admission.)

For the Research Track Only

Before starting on their theses, students must do the following:

  • Submit to their thesis advisor a 12-15 page thesis proposal which will cover the following: 
    (1) problem identification and research question,
    (2) a review of theoretical and substantive literature,
    (3) a discussion of primary sources, and
    (4) a tentative outline of research paper and table of contents. Consult the department's prospectus guidelines for details about these requirements and read this model prospectus that a past Queens College history graduate student submitted to the department.
  • If the written proposal is acceptable to the advisor, the advisor will schedule a 20–30 minute discussion/examination with the student and a second faculty member who will have read the proposal. The student will receive a pass/pass contingent on requested revisions/fail on this examination. The two faculty readers must fill out and sign the department's thesis proposal examination form and return the completed form to Dr. Grace Davie, the DGS. The student may not retake this examination more than once. After passing the examination, the student will inform the graduate advisor in writing about the name of the topic.
  • A satisfactory thesis answers a well-focused question and offers conclusions based on a thorough investigation of pertinent evidence. The thesis is conducted under the general supervision of the graduate advisor and the specific direction of a member of the History Department. A thesis generally runs from 65 to 85 pages, with 75 pages considered optimal.

Procedures for Completing a Master's Thesis


  • The MA candidate must submit three (3) copies of the thesis with format and title page as described below. Do not staple any portion of the thesis.
  • All front matter, all text, all notes and all appendices must provide for a margin of 1.5 inches on the left side of the paper. All text must be double-spaced.
  • The title page, as its top line, displays the title of the thesis and then, two or three spaces down, the student's name. Further down on the title page, the following sentence must appear, arranged in a multi-line block: "Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in history, in the Graduate Division of Queens College of the City University of New York," followed by a thesis advisor signature line and a date line. See sample title page here.
  • Unless otherwise specified by the thesis advisor, all notes should follow the "humanities" or "documentary note" system as specified by The Chicago Manual of Style or the same system presented by Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.
  • Plagiarism is not tolerated. All cases of plagiarism involving any stage of the master's thesis will be reported to the Dean of Students, in the case of MS students to their Education Advisor, and will result in a one-year suspension from the MA program as a minimum and dismissal from the program as a maximum.


Procedure for Submitting the Thesis

  • The signature of the thesis advisor, written on the title-page signature line, signifies final approval of the thesis as complete in all aspects. The advisor must sign three copies of this title page; these will serve as the cover page for each copy of the thesis.
  • In addition, there is a separate M.A. Thesis Approval Form. Print up one copy of this and have your advisor sign after he or she has signed the thesis title-pages. This will then be submitted to the History Department. (The History secretaries will pass along copies to the Dean of Graduate Studies, Richard Bodnar, and the Registrar's Office.)
  • Once all forms have been signed and the Thesis Approval Form has been submitted to the History office, the student must pay a binding fee of $35.00 at the Bursar's Office and take the receipt plus the three (3) copies of the thesis to the Rosenthal Library for binding (Room 201). One copy is for the Library, the second is for the History Department, and the third is for the student. 


Graduate Honors

The History Department awards three yearly prizes, for which graduate students are eligible:

  • the Arnold Franco Award, the recipient(s) of which are announced in the fall, for the best paper treating the subject of historical revisionism,
  • the Michael Wreszin Award for a superior history paper, and
  • the Frank Merli Graduate Student Prize.



Queens College, CUNY, MA Program in History

***New Policies and Procedures***

Effective September 1, 2017 [Updated 9/14/2017]



MA students are now required to apply for the Research Track.  After the completion of 24 credits, students interested in writing an MA thesis should apply to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), Professor Grace Davie (  The application consists of a one-page statement describing the proposed thesis topic and a brief note (email) from the full-time faculty member who has agreed to serve as Thesis Advisor.  After the advisor has reviewed the statement/proposal, the student should submit both (in one email) to the DGS.  Specify “Research Track Application” in the subject line, along with student’s full name.  The MA Committee will review applications.  Academic performance in MA coursework will be one admission criteria.  Students will not be admitted to HIST 796 unless they have been approved.  Email your application to the DGS by Nov. 1 to enroll in HIST 796 in the spring. 



Research Track students who have passed the Prospectus Defense Exam are strongly encouraged to take an independent study with their Thesis Advisor during the semester in which they hope to graduate.  The structure of an independent study course will help the student meet revision deadlines and complete the thesis in a timely fashion.  Most MA students now complete the thesis within 1-2 years after completing HIST 796.  One year is the recommended maximum.



All MA students, whether seeking to graduate via the Research Track or the Professional Track, are now required to pass the First Comprehensive Exam by the end of 18 credits.  Students intending to pursue the Research Track who have accrued 24 credits by 9/1/2017 are exempt from this policy.  However, they must still apply for the Research Track to gain entrance to HIST 796.  Students seeking to graduate on the Research Track are encouraged to take their first comp. exam in a field (see below) related to their proposed thesis topic, and to use the exam to advance their research. As opposed to taking two exams at the time of graduation, students on the Professional Track must now pass theirSecond Comprehensive Exam by the end of 36 credits.  Note that both exams may not be taken with the same professor.  Professional Track students with more than 18 credits as of 9/1/2017 must contact the DGS to schedule their first exam.


Comprehensive exams will now be given in the context of regular MA courses, administered during the scheduled final exam period, and proctored by the professor teaching the course.  However, these exams are different from traditional final exams.  Students will take comprehensive exams in a “field” that covers a general area in history, that builds on the course syllabus, and that also reflects additional reading.  Instructors will provide a list of approximately 4-7 academic monographs, perhaps more, and will advise students about how to prepare in their specific field. 


Examples of possible fields include Medieval Europe, American history, Modern Germany, the Roman Empire, Brazil, and Pre-colonial Africa.  Some professors may offer thematic or conceptual fields that depart somewhat from a course syllabus (i.e. women’s history, the history of medicine, African American history, film studies, or the Cold War.)  If a student cannot find an MA course being offered on a desired field, they should alert the DGS.  However, students will still be expected to work with their professors to decide on a suitable field according to the new 18/36 credit timeline. 


Students will be examined on all assigned readings for the course, plus additional books chosen by the professor.  Course instructors have the discretion to set exams time limits (two hours or less); to give closed or open-book exams; to create either general or specific/tailored exam fields; and to make other accommodations regarding the administration of the exam.  Some instructors will give a choice of two questions to answer.  Some may require two or more.  Students must formally declare their intention to use a course as “comprehensive exam course” by the fourth week of the term.  Students will have one chance to re-take a failed exam and receive guidance from the instructor.  Students may not resolve a failed exam by electing a new comp. exam course.  MLS/MA students are not required to take these exams.


For more information about the two tracks and all current graduation requirements, please contact the DGS, Professor Grace Davie (


 Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Grace Davie
Office: Powdermaker Hall 352-WW
Phone: 718-997-5381
Fax: 718-997-5359

 New Policies & Procedures, eff. Sept 1, 2017

To read about these new policies, scroll to the bottom of the page.
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