Master’s Program

The History Department offers a master’s program that qualifies students for employment in a number of fields, including teaching and government research, though in past years a substantial number of people admitted to this program have ultimately gone on to pursue the Ph.D. As with the Doctoral Program, the Master’s Program accepts a limited number of students in the fall semester. Prospective students should be aware that funding opportunities for masters students are limited, as Graduate School regulations stipulate that students pursuing only a master’s degree in a department that offers a doctoral degree cannot be awarded a teaching assistantship or similar forms of funding.

For additional information on financial aid for master’s students, see

Program Requirements:

The History Department has recently revised its master’s program.  What we have done is create two separate tracks to meet the differing needs of our students, as explained in the following chart:

Professional Track
Academic Track
The professional track allows students to follow as rigorous a curriculum as they wish without requiring them to take courses that are better suited for doctoral students. It is designed for both social studies teachers who need a master’s degree for professional certification and those seeking advanced preparation for careers government service, journalism, and other fields that demand a combination of research, writing skills, and knowledge of the past. This program provides a stronger grounding in history than do master’s programs in liberal studies and teaching.
The professional track is also open to individuals seeking personal enrichment, whether or not history is directly related to their occupation. Students may enter the program in either the fall or spring semester and may enroll on either a full- or part-time basis.
Students in this track can earn their degree either through coursework alone or by choosing to write a 6-credit master’s thesis. The thesis will give students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of interest using primary sources.
Students can also take up to 6 credits of content-based pedagogy courses, and we hope to be able to offer such courses as Teaching American History Through Popular Culture, Introduction to Economics Education, and Teaching Geography.
Students may begin the program in either the Fall or the Spring semester.
The academic track is designed for individuals who aspire to a career in teaching or writing history at the college level, but who are not yet ready to enter a Ph.D. program. Students in the academic track are required to enroll in the two-semester Core Seminar in historical theory and research and generally follow the course of study of incoming doctoral (Ph.D.) students. Students are only admitted to this track for studies beginning in the fall.
Students in this track are expected to develop a concentration in a region or period, or in an interdisciplinary field, and to conduct research in this area of concentration in the Core Seminar.
As with the professional track, students in the academic track can earn their degree either through coursework alone or by choosing to write a 6-credit master’s thesis. The thesis will give students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of interest using primary sources.
Students may begin the program only in the Fall semester.


In addition to the requirements imposed by the Graduate School, the following requirements must be met:

A. Coursework

The coursework requirements for the Professional Track and the Academic Track differ somewhat, as can be seen in the chart below:

Professional Track
Academic Track
Core Seminar (HIS 524/6 & 525/7)
Three Field Seminars
Two Field Seminars
Two Theme Seminars
Two Theme Seminars
The remaining 15 credits can be selected from Field Seminars, Theme Seminars, directed studies and graduate courses offered in conjunction with other departments (e.g. Sociology, Africana Studies, and Cultural Analysis & Theory). There will be an option for a Master’s Thesis (6 credits).
The remaining 12 credits can be selected from Field Seminars, Theme Seminars, directed studies and graduate courses offered in conjunction with other departments (e.g. Sociology, Africana Studies, and Cultural Analysis & Theory). There will be an option for a Master’s Thesis (6 credits).
Total Credits
Total Credits


Additional Notes on Coursework:

1. Core Seminar (HIS 524/HIS526, HIS 525/HIS 527: 3 credits each semester): This course provides an intensive, year-long introduction to historical theory and research. It also familiarizes students with the thematic organization of the graduate program. All full-time students in the Academic Track of the master’s program, as well as in the doctoral (Ph.D.) program, are required to take this course, which is offered only as a fall/spring sequence, during their first year.

2. Two or Three Field Seminars (3 credits each): The department offers a number of Field Seminars designed to familiarize students with the history and historiography of specific regions and periods. These courses include: Medieval and Early Modern Europe (HIS 501) and Modern Europe (502); Early American History (521) and Modern American History (522); Colonial Latin America (541) and Modern Latin America (542), all of which are offered on a one- or two-year cycle. In addition, the following Field Seminars are offered in African and Asian history: Introduction to African and/or Asian History (562), South Asian History (563), Chinese History (564), and Japanese History (565); note that some of these Field Seminars may be offered slightly less frequently. Some Field Seminars are populated with students in the Master of Arts in Teaching program (M.A.T.), as well as with M.A. and Ph.D. students. Master’s students in the Academic Track are required to take two field seminars, while master’s students in the Professional Track are required to take three field seminars. Students interested in concentrating in the history of a specific region are encouraged, but not required, to complete both parts of the Field Seminar sequence for that region where available.

3. Two Theme Seminars (3 credits each). The theme seminars are the heart of the department’s commitment to the theoretically informed, interdisciplinary study of history. Topics, approaches, and instructors vary, but these seminars generally fall within the rubric of our program’s theme clusters: Gender, Race, and Sexuality; Nation-State, Civil Society, and Popular Politics; Empire, Colonialism, and Globalization; and Environment, Health, Science, and Technology. Master’s students in both the Professional and Academic Tracks are required to take two theme seminars. A minimum of two theme seminars are offered each semester. Topics change regularly, and students are free to choose among the theme seminars being offered.

4. Directed Readings for M.A. Candidates (HIS 584/HIS 585, 3 credits each): Three credits of directed readings will normally be taken in the Fall of the initial year, to enable the student to meet regularly with his or her Advisor and address any deficiencies in preparation for the graduate program. The course may be repeated with the same or other members of the faculty as an elective in later semesters.

5. Four or Five Electives (3 credits each): The remaining 15 credits (for students in the Professional Track) or 12 credits (for students in the Academic Track) can be selected from Field Seminars, Theme Seminars, the graduate courses offered in conjunction with other departments (e.g., Sociology, English, Art History, Africana Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Cultural Analysis and Theory), and Directed Readings. Directed Readings may or may not be in connection with preparation for the Oral Exam or for an optional Master’s Thesis (see below).

B. Oral Examination: By the time the student has completed 24 credits (e.g. fall semester of his/her second year for a full-time student), he or she must secure the agreement of two faculty members (one of whom must be the student’s Advisor) to serve on the orals examination committee. The Advisor will examine the student in his or her major geo-political field (Modern Europe, Colonial North America, etc.); the second faculty member will examine the student in a complementary field (usually based on a theme seminar). The exam will be taken at the end of the student’s course of study. At least two months before the student’s desired date for the Oral Exam, the student will present the members of his or her orals committee with a list of books and topics to be examined. Students may enroll in a Directed Readings course (sometimes termed an Orals workshop) to prepare for the examination. Students are responsible for arranging a mutually acceptable date and time for the exam (and for notifying the Graduate Program Coordinator well in advance so that the necessary paperwork can be processed). The exam will last approximately one hour, and it will be graded as “pass with distinction,” “pass,” or “fail.” In the event of failure, the student may petition to take the exam a second time at a later date.

C. Master’s Thesis Option: Students may elect to write a master’s thesis. While there is no specified length for this, the expectation is that the thesis will be in the range of 40 to 70 pages. Students pursuing this option must enroll in HIS 586 (Orals and Thesis Preparation for M.A. Candidates) and/or HIS 584/585 (Directed Readings for M.A. Candidates).  The thesis writing will be supervised by the student’s Advisor, and—for students pursuing this option—a substantial portion of the oral examination will be devoted to the defense of the thesis.

D. Language Requirement: Master’s students with a concentration in European history must pass a written exam in an appropriate foreign language. Students in Latin American history must pass a written exam in Spanish or Portuguese. The other areas of concentration currently do not require a foreign language for the master’s degree.

E. Master’s Students Seeking to Enter the Ph.D. Program: Master’s students seeking to enter the Ph.D. Program must submit a formal application to the Graduate School. Admission into the Ph.D. program is not guaranteed. Meanwhile, M.A. students are welcome and indeed encouraged to participate in all departmental activities (see below).

F. Advising and Evaluation: When students are accepted into the master’s program, they are assigned a first-year Advisor based on the areas of interest indicated by the student in his or her application. Students may change Advisors with the permission of the Graduate Director (of course, the permission of the faculty member who is to be the new Advisor is also required, as is the permission of the original Advisor).

Advisors will meet with new students to discuss program requirements and the student’s individual course of study, and they will meet with their advisees on a regular basis as they progress through the program. Ideally, students should consult with their Advisors about their course of study (including general course selection, language requirements, and enrollment in courses outside the department) at the beginning of each semester.

For more detailed information on the department’s policies on evaluation for all graduate students (including Master’s students), please click on Graduate Student Policies.

G. Activities Outside the Classroom: Many students become involved in a variety of scholarly and collegial activities within and outside the History Department, and we welcome student initiatives to help us build a collegial community. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the activities of interdisciplinary and community-building programs on campus: the Humanities Institute, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center, the Initiative in the Historical Social Sciences, the Graduate Student Organization, etc., as well as our own departmental Colloquium for faculty and graduate students and the Department’s various welcome, end-of-the-year, and holiday parties (when we really count on the volunteerism of everybody!). We also urge you to take full advantage of scholarly activities in the greater metropolitan area, and, if you are interested, to seek out opportunities to participate in scholarly conferences both here and at other institutions.

Please feel free to bring ideas, initiatives, or concerns to the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies, and/or to the Department Chair. For more administrative issues, our Graduate Program Coordinator, Roxanne Fernandez, is ready to answer questions or help you in any other way she can. Susan Grumet, Departmental Administrator, is on top of just about all facets of this department, and is especially helpful when it comes to the Undergraduate Program.


Graduate News

Humanities Institute Event on 4/14/2015 featuring History Department Faculty

Humanities Institute at Stony Brook
Workshop on Gender and Religion
Tuesday, April 14
2:30 – 6:00 pm, Humanities 1008

2:30 – 4:00 Gender, Body, Religion in Modern Africa (Chair: Tracey Walters)
Christian Mobility, Muslim Invisibility: Bodies and Difference in Northern Nigeria
Shobana Shankar, Stony Brook University

Schooling, Spirit Possession, and the “Modern Girl” in Niger
Adeline Masquelier, Tulane University

 4:00 – 4:30 Coffee Break

 4:30 – 6:00 Gender, Body, Religion in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Chair: Sara Lipton)
Help-Mates and Soul Mates: Trans(sexual)migration of Souls in Sixteenth–Century Kabbalah
Joshua Teplitsky, Stony Brook University

Curating the Body in Francisco Delicado’s Retrato de la Lozana Andaluza
Israel Burshatin, Haverford College

 6:00 – 6:30 Comments and General Discussion

 6:30 – 7:00 Reception

Co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Center for the Study of Jewish, Christian, Muslim Relations
download poster here


Doctoral Student wins Fulbright

Congratulations to Stony Brook History Department PhD student Erica Mukherjee, who has been awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship for 2015-16. The grant will support 9 months of research in India on her dissertation project, “The Real and Imagined Environments of the Colonial Indian Railways.”

HIS 517: Mobilities & Connections [Graduate Theme Seminar] (Spring 2015)

This seminar examines expanding circuits of global mobility from the early modern period to the present, and considers methodological implications of taking mobilities and connections as object of analysis. We will examine historical processes and dynamics on multiple scales from the perspective of people, commodities, and ideas in motion, along with dynamic networks and material or cultural effects these circuits generate; and the regulatory systems that emerge in consequence of increasingly robust flows. Expanding global connections and their effects produce new constraints and open a wide range of fresh possibilities for both states and diverse groups of people. The course will look closely at the interplay between unprecedented mobility and the restrictions imposed by modern political regimes, and the shifting relationship between people and real and imagined political entities from the global (empires, internationalisms, global governance bodies), to the provincial (kingdoms, nationalisms, nation-states). Organized thematically around mobile people, commodities, and ideas, and global institutions, we will examine disaporic migrant connections, global radical and anti-colonial movements, material and cultural effects of long-distance commodity production and exchange, and the circulation and expanding scope of institutional ideas and practices. The course will be interdisciplinary, incorporating comparative and monographic historical and anthropological studies, theoretical writings, and selections from literary or historical primary source texts; and transregional, examining particular themes via close consideration of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and their interconnections. Readings will include books or articles by scholars such as Benedict Anderson, Sebouh Aslanian, Sven Beckert, Lauren Benton, Engseng Ho, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, Mark Mazower, Adam McKeown, Jeremy Prestholdt, Maia Ramnath, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (links above are to recommended or required books ordered for the course).

SBU students rock the SSRC

Congratulations to both Ashley Black and Andrew Ehrinpreis for being awarded fellowships from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Black has won the prestigious Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship for her research on Mexico City as a site of Latin American exile in the 1950s. Ehrinpreis has won a Drugs, Security, and Democracy Fellowship (co-sponsored by the Soros Open Society Foundations) for his dissertation, “Constructing Coca: A History of Bolivian Coca Nationalism and the War on Drugs, 1920–2000.” Ehrinpreis is the third Stony Brook history student to win this prize.

PhD student wins national fellowship

Please join us in congratulating Gregory Rosenthal! The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded him the prestigious Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for his project, “Hawaiians Who Left Hawaii: Work, Body, and Environment in the Pacific World, 1786–1876.” Mellon fellowships—of which only 65 were awarded this year—support advanced graduate students in humanities and social sciences in the their last year of dissertation writing.

Another SBU grad student wins fellowship

Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Froylán Enciso! The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (dedicated to studies of violence and violence prevention) has awarded him a dissertation fellowship for his project, “Made in Sinaloa: From the Regional to the Global History of the Mexican War on Drugs, 1909–1985.”