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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



Starting Fall 2017, MA students will be required to apply for the Research Track. 

After completion of 24 credits, students interested in the Research Track may apply by contacting the DGS.  The application consists of a one-page statement describing the student’s proposed thesis topic and an informal letter of recommendation (email is sufficient) from the full-time faculty member who has agreed to serve as thesis advisor. 

Students will not be admitted to HIST 796 (the course in which students draft the thesis prospectus) unless they have been approved for the Research Track.  Applications are due November 1 to gain entrance to HIST 796 in the spring.

Research Track students who have passed the Prospectus Defense Exam are strongly encouraged to take an independent study course 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.



Starting Fall 2017, all students, whether seeking to graduate via the Research Track or via the Professional Track, will be required to pass their First Comprehensive Exam by the end of 18 credits.  Students on the Professional Track must also pass a Second Comprehensive Exam by the end of 36 credits. 

Starting Fall 2017, comprehensive exams will be administered in the context of a course and will take place during the scheduled final exam period.  The comprehensive exams will cover the syllabus in question, plus additional readings in the broader “field” of the course, or closely related to the course.  The instructor will provide students with a reading list (approximately 4-7 books), and meet with students to advise them about how to prepare.

To facilitate this process, starting Fall 2017, every 700-level syllabus will include the following language:

Designation of a Comprehensive Exam Course [History MA students only; not applicable for MLS/MA]

All History MA students are now required to take their First Comprehensive Exam at or before the completion of 18 credits.  Students on the Professional Track must also complete a second comprehensive exam at or before the completion of 36 credits.  [Students with more than 18 credits must still take both exams to graduate, and should schedule their two exams in a manner that best approximates this new procedure—namely, one exam about half-way through the student’s course work and the second at the end of the student’s coursework.]

Comprehensive exams will be administered in the context of a course.  Exams will be given during the scheduled final exam period.  Exams will cover the syllabus in question along with additional readings in a broader “field.”  If you would like to designate this course as your first or second comprehensive exam course, notify the professor by the fourth week of the semester.  The professor will meet with you to provide a supplementary reading list and a form for your signature to be submitted to the DGS by the professor.


 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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