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Program Overview and Requirements

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in history requires satisfactory completion of 30 units of coursework, or ten separate courses at the 500-, 600-, or 700-level.  500-level courses are mixed graduate/undergraduate, with caps of 50;  600-level courses are discussion-based directed readings seminars exclusive to graduate students, with caps of 15;  700-level courses are individualized Special Studies.

We require two core courses - HIST 601, which is taken during the first fall in the program and HIST 665, a research seminar where you work with primary sources.  While completing your required coursework, you will choose either Plan A (Thesis) or Plan B (Exam) as the culminating project for the degree.

Degree Learning Objectives

DLO 1 Historical Methodology/Historiography: Students will identify foundational approaches to the study of the past, how and why scholars have developed those interpretations, and how they have changed over time.

  • To be assessed via the final historiographical essays written in History 601.

DLO 2 Primary Source Research: Students will interrogate primary and secondary sources within their historical contexts using appropriate methods and use them to formulate an original historical argument.

  • To be assessed via the final primary-source based essays written for History 665.

DLO 3 Diversity/Breadth: Students will situate their work within a relevant interdisciplinary or transregional perspective on the dynamics of historical change that recognizes diverse cultures, languages, socio-economic layers and groups, including racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups.

  • To be assessed by student paper submission from a graduate class.

DLO 4 Preparation for Career Pathways: History M.A. Students will demonstrate needed skills and knowledge to enter a history Ph.D. program, teach history at the K-12 or community college level, work as a public historian, work in government research and policy making, or pursue other careers in which historical perspectives and interpretations are assets.

  • To be assessed through an exit survey administered when M.A. students advance to candidacy, in which students would provide feedback on how well and in what ways the program has supported them in developing the skills needed to pursue their chosen career.

Program Requirements


Visit the SDSU catalog listing for requirements for the M.A. in History.

See our Courses page for a list of course offerings in History.

Advancement to Candidacy/Program of Study

Once you have completed 15-18 units, you need to consult with the Graduate Adviser in order to file your Program of Study (POS). This is a program submitted to Graduate Affairs for approval that includes all coursework completed and all coursework left to complete for the M.A. degree.  

At this time you would also officially make the choice between Plan A and Plan B, and it is an opportunity check in with the Graduate Adviser about your progress and expectations regarding thesis or exams.  Once the POS is approved, you are Advanced to Candidacy, and you must do this before you can enroll in the required courses for thesis and exams.

Language Requirement

The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by taking 12 semester units in a foreign language as an undergraduate or graduate student, or by passing a proficiency exam administered by SDSU faculty.  See below for the potential faculty contacts for different language exams. As an initial step, contact your graduate advisor for help with discussing the requirement, setting up the exam, or passing the requirement.


Language Faculty Member Email
Chinese Z. Zhang [email protected]
French A. Donadey [email protected]
German K. Rebien [email protected]
Greek J. Smith [email protected]
Italian C. Clo [email protected]
Japanese Y. Arita [email protected]
Korean S. Choi [email protected]
Latin J. Smith [email protected]
Russian D. Shembel [email protected]
Spanish A. Frieberg [email protected]