M.A. in History

The History Department maintains a small, selective graduate program leading to the master’s degree in history. Our faculty are distinguished both as active scholars and as engaged teachers, and our graduate program is based on close mentoring relationships between faculty and graduate students. The department aims to keep the program at a size that best supports students’ individual curricular and career goals: approximately 10-12 students are admitted each year.

Accelerated Master's Program in History

Undergraduate history majors at UVM may apply to the Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) in History. Students admitted to the program will work simultaneously on their B.A. and M.A. requirements, counting up to six concurrent credits toward both the B.A. and the M.A. degrees. AMP students may thus complete both B.A. and M.A. degrees in just five years.

M.S. in Historic Preservation

This program prepares students for broad-based careers in the conservation and sustainable management of the historic environment through studies and research in heritage preservation administration, planning and education, architectural conservation, adaptive use and economic development, architectural and cultural history, and cultural resource management. A strong emphasis is placed on community-based projects through linkages with local, state and federal groups, organizations and agencies. For more information, please visit the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program website.

Historic Preservation Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP)

This program provides an opportunity for capable undergraduate UVM students to enroll directly in the historic preservation graduate program while taking advantage of Accelerated Master’s Program degree incentives. Following their formal admission into the Historic Preservation AMP, students work simultaneously on their B.A. and M.S. requirements, counting up to six credits of 200-graduate level courses toward both the B.A. and the M.S. degrees. The remaining 30 credits of graduate study required for Historic Preservation M.S. degree normally would be taken in three semesters following undergraduate graduation.

Requirements for Admissions

To apply to the History master’s program, students must submit an application to the UVM Graduate College, including:

•  Graduate Record Examination scores (not required for applicants to the Accelerated Master’s Program);
•  Statement of purpose (explaining the student’s intellectual interests and goals);
•  Three letters of recommendation (normally from academic mentors or professors);
•  A writing sample (normally a research paper completed in an undergraduate history course demonstrating the use of primary sources).

To be considered for admission, applicants should have:

•  An undergraduate major in history or a related field of the humanities or social sciences;
•  A GPA of at least 3.0 (B) for the last two years of undergraduate study, with evidence of better work in history;
•  A score above the 65th percentile on the GRE verbal section.

These guidelines suggest a minimum level and do not imply that all students attaining that minimum will be admitted. Neither the GRE score nor the GPA, however, will generally be the sole determining factor in admissions decisions. The undergraduate record, letters of recommendation, and writing sample will be major factors in evaluating applications.

Application Deadline

Applicants seeking financial aid in the form of fellowships or assistantships for the fall semester must submit a completed application by February 15. No applications for admission to the program for the fall semester will be accepted after May 1. In those rare instances when a student seeks admission for the spring semester, applications must be submitted by November 1.  Applicants to the AMP program must submit completed applications by May 1 of their junior year.

Tuition & Financial Aid

The University of Vermont has approved a special reduced non-resident tuition rate for students in the History M.A. program.  Check with Student Financial Services for the latest details.

The department offers a wide variety of scholarships and funded work opportunities. For most students, the department strives to provide significant financial support over the course of their program. Funding opportunities include:

College Fellowship: awarded to our most highly qualified accepted applicants, the College Fellowship pays all tuition for the 30 credits required to attain the M.A.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships: The department currently awards approximately 5 part-time Graduate Teaching Assistantships every semester, each carrying a stipend and partial tuition remission.  Most admitted students are awarded one or more GTAs over the course of their studies.

Research Assistantships: The department frequently awards paid research assistantships to fund part-time work with faculty on their research projects.

Thompson Fund: Graduate students may request Thompson Fund grants for several types of support, including travel to conferences and research sites and funding for summer research or internships.

Work/Study positions:  Many students who apply for financial aid will qualify for work/study funds.  All applicants are encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the federally mandated deadline of March 1. It is usually possible to place students with work/study funding in History Department positions.

Program Requirements

Thirty credits are required for the M.A. degree in history.

All students are required to take Graduate Historiography (HST 301) in their first semester of study. 

At least 15 credits of course work must be earned in seminars in the History Department. Other options, with the consent of the director of graduate studies and the student’s faculty advisor, include:

• Independent readings and research courses with individually designed reading lists and regular meetings with a faculty instructor.  (These courses may also incorporate attendance at lectures in relevant undergraduate courses offered at the 100-level.)

• An internship in a professionally-related position (such as a museum, historic house, or archival collection.)

• Up to 6 hours taken in related fields outside of the History Department in another UVM academic program;

• Up to 9 hours of graduate-level transfer credit from another institution, or from the University of Vermont prior to admission to the graduate program.  Courses taken for graduate credits at other institutions must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College.

Each student will choose a primary faculty advisor who will advise the student on curriculum and career goals, and will act as primary advisor for the student’s progress through the program.  The faculty member will normally be a professor with research and teaching interests directly related to those of the student.  In consultation with the primary faculty advisor, students will choose a second faculty advisor who will serve as a second reader of the student’s comprehensive examination and assist in evaluating the student’s final project.

Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.3 (B+) each semester.  Students failing to maintain this average will be dismissed from the program.

Comprehensive Examination

All graduate students must pass a comprehensive examination in a field of specialization, to be defined in consultation with the primary faculty advisor.

The examination requires students to provide a comprehensive analysis of major themes and problems in their field of historical specialization, including attention to historiography and interpretive problems.  The examination may take one of several forms, to be determined by the faculty advisor in consultation with the student and the director of graduate studies.  Options include: a timed written examination; an oral examination; a take-home essay; a historiographical review undertaken as part of the student’s master’s thesis; an annotated syllabus or detailed lesson plans for a field of study.  Exams will be assessed by the primary faculty advisor and a second faculty member.

Candidates whose initial efforts are not judged satisfactory may re-take the exam. In most instances, reexamination will occur within one month.  Students failing the examination twice will be dismissed from the program.

Program Options

In order to provide students with a course of study best suited to their professional and intellectual goals, the program offers three paths toward fulfillment of the requirements for the M.A. degree.

1. The Portfolio Option
The portfolio option is designed to give students the opportunity to tailor a course of study to specific intellectual or career goals. A student with an interest in museum work, for example, may combine in the portfolio a museum catalog essay, an on-line curated exhibit, and an analysis of a problem in museum methodology; students interested in teaching may include lesson plans, syllabi, or other pedagogical materials.  Portfolios will typically include the results of at least one internship.

Students pursuing the portfolio option will consult with a faculty advisor during the second semester. A formal portfolio proposal must be submitted by the beginning of the third semester.  It must be approved by the faculty advisor and the director of graduate studies.  Upon completion, the candidate will submit the portfolio to examination by the advisor and a second faculty member, who will determine whether the portfolio meets the standards of the program. 

2. The Expanded Essay Option

The expanded essay option is designed to allow students the opportunity to pursue a specific research and writing project in more breadth and depth than is possible in a paper for a one-semester seminar. The final essay will incorporate significant additional research, reflection, and revision into an essay of professional quality.

Students pursuing the expanded essay option will choose one of their seminar papers to work on no later than the third semester. The project must be approved by the faculty advisor and the director of graduate studies.
Upon completion, the candidate will submit the revised essay to the advisor and a second faculty member, who will examine the student in a one-hour oral defense of the expanded essay. Advisors may recommend that a student submit the completed essay to an academic journal for publication.

3. The Thesis Option

The thesis option is designed for students who wish to commit a significant portion of their time in the master’s program to immersion in a longer and more complex research and writing project. A thesis typically requires at least two semesters and often a summer before or after the second year to complete.

Students will begin thesis work by the end of the second semester, identifying a project and beginning the research process.  Students will submit a written proposal no later than the beginning of the third semester of study.  The thesis proposal must be approved by the faculty advisor and the director of graduate studies.

The thesis option requires the student to fulfill a number of Graduate College-mandated requirements, including scheduling and advertising the defense well in advance of the date; making sure the thesis conforms to the format requirements of the Graduate College; and setting up a defense committee that conforms to the requirements of the Graduate College. Upon completion of the thesis, the candidate will be examined orally by a committee composed of the thesis advisor and two other faculty members, one of whom (serving as chair) must be a member of another department.

All options are open to students in the Accelerated Master’s Program.

Degree Completion

Full-time students are expected to complete all degree requirements within two full years (four semesters of class work, combined with summer research, fellowships, or internships).  Students whose work requires extensive travel or language acquisition may require additional time.  Full-time students must complete all requirements within three years of beginning the program.

Students may choose to complete the program on a part-time basis.  Taking one course each semester will fulfill all requirements within five years, the deadline for completion.  Many seminars are scheduled in the afternoon or early evening to accommodate the schedules of students who are teaching or otherwise employed.

Learning Outcomes

The History Department maintains a small, selective graduate program leading to the master’s degree in history. Our faculty are distinguished both as active scholars and as engaged teachers, and our graduate program is based on close mentoring relationships between faculty and graduate students. The department aims to keep the program at a size that best supports students’ individual curricular and career goals: approximately 10-12 students are admitted each year.

Students who complete the MA in history should:

  1. Possess detailed historical knowledge of key events and periods in their areas of expertise and be able to explain their significance.
  2. Be able to discuss and critique historiographical trends and developments and assess the nature of scholarly debates and disputes in their fields of study.
  3.  Be able to display skills of critical analysis. In the field of history these include the ability to develop persuasive arguments, evaluate the use of evidence and the effectiveness of arguments in the work of other historians.
  4.  Be able to conduct original research that contributes to knowledge. In completing research of this nature (which might appear in the form of written essays, websites or other digital media, or historically-oriented exhibits) students showcase their ability to situate their work in scholarly conversations and debates, identify and utilize a substantial base of primary source material, and write high-quality historical prose in proper academic form.
  5.  Be able to discuss and present their work orally in ways that reflect both their grasp of the material and an ability to speak about it in an accessible manner.

History M.A. Graduate Program 

History MA Graduate Director: Professor Dona Brown

University of Vermont
History Department
201 Wheeler House
133 S. Prospect Street
Burlington, Vermont 05405
Phone: (802) 656-3180


Historic Preservation M.S. Graduate Program 

Program Director: Professor Thomas Visser

University of Vermont
204 Wheeler House
133 S. Prospect Street
Burlington, Vermont 05405
Phone: (802) 656-3180