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Foreign:$ 41.4 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 1, 2024
94 place StudyQA ranking:2976 Duration:2 years

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Graduate education is a vital core component of our mission at Purdue: it helps sustain the scholars on our faculty, helps train the coming generation of professional historians, and helps refresh the undergraduate experience for the thousands of students who take our courses annually. If you are interested in pursuing graduate education in history we have several strengths to offer you: 1) a relatively small program (lots of "face time" with the graduate faculty); 2) exceptionally talented scholars in a wide variety of fields of study; 3) streamlined procedures designed to move you expeditiously toward your degree objective: and 4) plenty of opportunities for hands-on teaching experience. 

Masters candidates may choose a thesis or non-thesis program. On the thesis track students complete 24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of thesis research. Non-thesis candidates earn their degree entirely through 30 hours of coursework. All M.A. students take the Graduate Colloquium and at least 3 more courses at the 600 level (you must earn a B- or better to include a course on your plan of study). Non-thesis students take at least 2 reading seminars and 1 research seminar in addition to the Graduate Colloquium; thesis-option students must take at least 1 reading seminar, 1 research seminar, and 6 hours of 698 Thesis Research.  M.A. candidates must maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.0 (B). There is no general language requirement, but language proficiency may be required for some fields. 

Courses Explained 

    • READING SURVEYSEMINARS called “Problems in XXX History,” designed to orient students for teaching undergraduate surveys and introduce historical and historiographical themes, trends, and questions.  At least one seminar will be offered each year in early and modern Europe, early and modern America, and some aspect of world or global history

    • SEQUENCE SEMINARS (paired reading plus research) one semester of focused reading and historiography followed by a semester of research, yielding an original article.  These are to be taken as a linked pair, not separately, and will be taught by the same instructor or by two collaborators sharing the seminar from the start.  Content is intended to be expansive, flexible, accessible to non-specialists but more focused than content in Reading Survey Seminars.

    • WILD CARD SEMINARS (reading or research) offering thematic or specialized content.  These are ad hoc offerings growing out of student demand or faculty initiative.  At least one will be offered each year in some area of history.

    • HISTORY 590s (three types):

    1. Linked 590, in which a student audits a 300- or 400-level course, does extra reading, writes reviews or papers as required by faculty

    2. Field Prep 590, in which students pursue directed readings for field preparations, meeting and writing reviews or papers as required by faculty

    3. Research 590, in which students wishing to write an original research paper in a field not offered in regular seminars may do so under supervision of a faculty mentor.  May be linked with a lecture course.  This augments but does not replace the required research seminars.

    4. All History 590 registrations must be reviewed in light of the student’s Plan of Study by the Graduate Committe

Fields of Study

The Major Professor guides the preparation of the Major Field (called "Primary Area on the Plan of Study"). A major field covers a substantial area and/or span of time. The exact content and scope of a major field is determined by you and your major professor. Ordinarily students take 15 hours of coursework in their major field.

You also must identify a Minor Field (also called by the Graduate School a "related area") that lies outside the major field in time, place, or significant theme. A thematic minor (such as gender in history or imperialism) may include material that overlaps with the major field as long as the majority of reading is theoretical or lies outside the major area. With the approval of the major professor, a relevant minor field may be prepared outside the Department of History. 

Procedures in the MA program 

Purdue’s program in history is small enough so that each student receives substantial individual attention. A significant factor in the program is the strong link between each student and her or his Major Professor. Whether or not the student writes an M.A. thesis, the advice and counsel of this experienced mentor is very important to the educational process. 

Upon entering the program each student meets with the Director of Graduate Education to make initial plans, but as soon as possible academic guidance is transferred to the Major Professor. The selection of a Major Professor should be completed during the student’s first year in the program.

Plan of Study: Each student must file a Plan of Study with the Graduate School. This document lists all relevant coursework and identifies the Advisory Committee (3 individuals: Major and minor professors and one additional advisor). A plan of study must show credit for 598 (or equivalent), at least of 15 hours in the Major Field (“primary area”) and at least 6 hours in the Minor Field (“related area”). All candidates for the M.A. will show at least 30 total hours of graduate coursework (for thesis-option candidates 6 hours will be 698). Only courses with earned grades of B or better may be included on the POS.

The POS must be filed BEFORE the start of the semester in which a student intends to graduate, as determined by Graduate School deadlines. 

Suggested Program Map

Masters Candidates, 2 year map

Required for MA:  30 credit hours total including Hist 610-611, at least one additional research seminar, 5 additional courses 590 and above.

Goal for year 1:  introduce the history profession

Goal for year 2:  field differentiation, professional identity, original research paper (or thesis)

Year 1

6 courses

Hist 610

Reading Survey Seminar

Linked 590 OR

500-level course

Hist 611

Reading Survey Seminar

Linked 590 OR

500-level course

Year 2

6 courses

Sequence Seminar (reading) OR

Reading Survey Seminar OR

590 OR other 500-600-level OR


Sequence Seminar (research) OR

Reading Survey Seminar OR

590 OR other 500-600-level OR



Progress Toward Degree: Ordinarily the M.A. takes two years. Midway through their second and fourth semesters the records of full time M.A. candidates will be reviewed by the DOGE for evidence of progress toward the degree. Second semester candidates must have earned a GPA of 3.0 or better in at least 6 credit hours of coursework and should be registered for enough courses to bring the total for year one to at least 15 hours (at least 6 at the 600 level). To be in “good” standing fourth semester candidates must have maintained a 3.0 average in at least 24 hours of coursework and be registered for enough hours to attain 30 by the end of year two. “Good” standing is a requirement for continuation of any graduate staff appointment.

After 2 semesters below GPA of 3.0 or if a student falls below the cumulative minimum credit hours the file must be reviewed by the Graduate Committee, which may find that such student is making “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” progress toward the degree and recommend remedial action and/or termination of a graduate staff appointment.

Non-traditional MA students taking courses part-time may be excused from this assessment of progress toward degree.

Exams: Non-thesis candidates for the M.A. currently do not take a final exam. Thesis option candidates will be examined by the members of their advisory committee at an oral thesis defense, which typically is one hour in length.

  • Purdue University Graduate School on-line application form.
  • Official copies of all transcripts for college-level study. International students must provide official transcripts in the language of origin along with English translations and a copy of the Bachelor's Degree diploma. 
  • Your statement of purpose specifying fields of interest and potential major professor(s).
  • Acceptable performance on the general portion of the GRE.
  • English language proficiency (international students supply the TOEFL).
  • An overall undergraduate grade point average of “B” or better.
  • Usually not less than 24 undergraduate semester hours of history courses with at least a “B” average. (Well qualified students with fewer hours may be admitted to the program conditionally, and they may be required to take additional courses to prepare for the M.A. degree.)
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A writing sample (written in English, not translated), usually a term paper.
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