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UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA'S - DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY

Graduate Program Requirements

In addition to the regulations specified in the bulletin of Graduate School, the M.A. students in history must complete the department's credit, language, and thesis requirements. Students are admitted to the program with a designated advisor who oversees each student's course of study with oversight from the department's Graduate Committee.


I. Coursework and Credits

  1. Students must complete thirty (30) credits beyond the B.A. Up to six (6) of these thirty (30) may be "Thesis" credits (HSTA699). With approval from the Graduate Committee, students may apply up to six (6) credits in cognate fields towards their history M.A. Graduate school rules require that a minimum of one-half of all coursework be done at the 500-level.
  2. All students must take a 400 or 500 level research seminar.

  3. The History Department requires that students complete a minimum of four 500-level reading courses. Two 500-level reading courses must be in the student's major field: United States, Europe, or the World. Students must also take at least one 500-level reading course in one of the two other fields.

II. Foreign Language

Students must fulfill (or have fulfilled) the Department's B.A. foreign language requirement, which may be met by completing any one of the following options:

  1. The 101-102 active skills sequence in any foreign language at University of Montana or equivalent courses elsewhere. Students must earn a "C" or better to fulfill this requirement.

  2. Any single course at or above the 102 level in any foreign language at University of Montana or equivalent courses elsewhere. Students must earn a "C" or better to fulfill this requirement.

  3. An equivalency test administered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Students may be required by their major professor to do further work in a language or in cognate fields.

Students may be required by their major professor to fulfill additional language requirements, depending upon their research topics.


III. Master's Thesis

A maximum of six (6) thesis credits may be counted toward the total of thirty (30) credits required for the M.A. These credits may be taken in any semester or semesters during which the student is working on the thesis.


No thesis may go to committee nor may any examination thereon take place until all other requirements for the degree have been fulfilled.


The thesis will be directed and signed by the advisor and examined by a committee composed of at least three (3) members: the advisor, one other member of the History Department, and one outside faculty member to be selected by the student and advisor.


The department strongly suggests that thesis committees convene as students begin work on the thesis. This meeting will enable faculty and students to set a research agenda, to discuss methodological issues, and for the student and the committee to become familiar with each other. Subsequent meetings prior to the defense may be arranged at the discretion of the advisor and student.


To schedule your thesis proposal hearing, please fill out this form [Download PDF] and submit a copy to the History Department Office and to the Director of Graduate Studies.


The thesis must be a monographic study, make an original contribution to scholarship, and be presented in acceptable literary form.


M.A. candidates must adhere to the schedule determined by the Graduate School, which stipulates that the approved committee draft of the Master's thesis must be submitted to the Graduate Dean at least twenty days before the end of the semester in which all degree requirements will be completed. The draft must be approved by the Graduate Dean before the final oral examination. The University must be in session and students must be enrolled at the time of the defense.


The final stage will be an oral defense of the thesis. The student must provide the members of his or her thesis committee with completed copies of the thesis at least two weeks before the defense. Oral examinations are open to the public and guests may ask questions on recognition by the chair. Theses will be assessed on a pass or fail basis. All members of the committee must agree that the student has passed. Students are informed orally, at the end of the defense, of the committee's evaluation of their thesis.


To schedule your thesis defense, please fill out this FORM [Download PDF] and submit a copy to the History Department office and the Director of Graduate Studies. 


IV. NonThesis Master's

Requirements are the same as for the thesis M.A., except that the student will:

  1. Complete thirty-six (36) hours of course work. No more than three (3) professional paper credits (599) may count toward the degree.
  2. Prepare one professional paper of "publishable quality." Specifically the professional paper shall consist of an article-length, monographic study, based substantially on primary sources. A professional paper committee, composed of the director of the professional paper, one additional faculty member, and a faculty member from outside the Department, will conduct an oral defense of the professional paper, with a "pass" to be determined by unanimous vote of the committee. The final draft shall be submitted to the second departmental reader and the outside reader no less than ten days before a scheduled defense.

Doctoral students in history are required to fulfill several preliminary requirements (including coursework, research, foreign language competence, and comprehensive examinations) before researching, writing, and defending a doctoral dissertation. Students are admitted to the program with a designated advisor who oversees each student's course of study with oversight from the department's Graduate Committee.


To advance to formal Ph.D. candidacy, doctoral students must fulfill the following (I – IV) requirements:


I. Coursework & Credits

  1. Students must complete 15 credits past the M.A. (total of 45 credits). Students may transfer up to thirty (30) credits at the discretion of the Graduate Committee. A student may take up to nine credits outside the History Department and have them count towards his or her degree. Students entering with a M.A. may take no more than three (3) credits outside the History Department.
  2. All students must take a 400 or 500 level research seminar.
  3. Students are required to write an M.A. thesis. If accepted directly into the Ph.D. program with only a B.A., students may instead submit two research papers written while enrolled in UM's history graduate program. These papers must be approved by a committee of three faculty members.

II. Foreign Language

Students must demonstrate competence in foreign languages. Students in U.S. history will be required to demonstrate competence in one foreign language. Students in other areas will be required to demonstrate competence in two foreign languages. Passage of 102 at UM or the equivalent course elsewhere will demonstrate competence. Students may also satisfy the requirement by taking the ETS exam and scoring above the 45th percentile. These requirements are a minimum. At their discretion, advisors may require a higher degree of competence or additional languages.


III. Comprehensive Exams

  1. Ph.D. comprehensive exams consist of written and oral exams in three fields. Students will consult with their advisors to determine what three fields will best serve their research needs and teaching goals. The exams are intended to test students’ knowledge of each field and evaluate their abilities of historical interpretation and synthesis. Students are expected to master the literature in their fields and be aware of important historiographical trends.
  2. The examining professor will determine the specific requirements for each field, but the department recommends reading lists of approximately 100 books and articles.
  3. In order to qualify to take the comprehensive exams, students must complete all required coursework with a minimum 3.5 grade point average and meet the foreign language requirement.
  4. Students entering the Ph.D. program with an M.A. degree typically take comprehensive exams in their second year of study. Students entering with only a B.A. degree typically take the exams in their third year of study.
  5. Students first take separate written exams in each of the three fields. The examining professor will determine the requirements for the written exam, but recommended forms of assessment include a time-restricted essay exam, historiographical essay(s), and/or course syllabus. The oral exams are given the week following the written exams and are administered all together by the same professors who administered the written exams.
  6. In consultation with their advisors, students are encouraged, during their first and second years of study, to seek out faculty willing to serve as their examiners. No two fields may be taken with the same examiner. Normally, the student's advisor serves as the chair of the examining committee.
  7. Students receive a grade of pass or fail on the comprehensive exams. All professors on the committee must agree that the student has passed. Students are informed orally, at the end of the oral examination, of the examining committee's evaluation of their performance. Students who fail to pass their exams may take them a second time. Failure on the second attempt will mean termination from the program. If the examining committee agrees that the student's performance on the oral and written exams is outstanding and meritorious, the committee may award a "distinguished pass."

IV. Dissertation Proposal

Students are required to submit a proposal for a dissertation project, which must be approved by the student's dissertation committee. In consultation with their advisors, students choose members of their dissertation committee and gain the consent of each faculty member concerned. Normally, committees are composed of five faculty members, and the student's advisor serves as the chair of the committee. At least three members of the committee must be members of the History Department. One member of the committee must come from outside the History Department.

Students are encouraged to consult with all members of their dissertation committee while constructing the dissertation proposal. The student and the dissertation committee will convene a dissertation proposal hearing where faculty members assess the strength of the dissertation proposal. Dissertation proposals will be assessed on a pass or fail basis. All members of the committee must agree that the student has passed. Students are informed orally, at the end of the proposal hearing, of the dissertation committee's evaluation of their dissertation proposal.

To schedule your dissertation proposal hearing, please fill out this form [Download PDF] and submit a copy to the History Department Office and to the Director of Graduate Studies.


Upon completion of the above requirements (I – IV), Ph.D. students officially advance to Ph.D. candidacy or "ABD" (All But Dissertation) status. The following requirements remain:


V. Doctoral Dissertation

Students are required to write a doctoral dissertation that is an original contribution to scholarship. It must be presented in acceptable literary form. It must be of a quality that all or a substantial part of it would merit eventual publication. Normally, students will complete at least fifteen (15) credits of thesis work.


VI. Dissertation Defense

The final stage will be an oral defense of the dissertation. The student must provide the members of his or her dissertation committee with completed copies of the dissertation three weeks before the defense. Oral examinations are open to the public and guests may ask questions on recognition by the chair. Dissertations will be assessed on a pass or fail basis. All members of the committee must agree that the student has passed. Students are informed orally, at the end of the defense, of the dissertation committee's evaluation of their dissertation.

To schedule your dissertation defense, please fill out this form [Download PDF] and submit a copy to the History Department Office and to the Director of Graduate Studies.

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