The Master of Arts Program

Most students in the MA program elect to do the MA by thesis. This program normally requires about five terms (twenty months) to complete. Typically, students devote their first two terms to work in graduate seminars. Of the twelve credit hours of required graduate courses, 3ch will consist of Hist 6925, the Department's compulsory graduate seminar on historiographical theory and method, and another 3ch in Hist 6007 (Thesis Reading Course) which will require writing a paper on the literature relevant to their Thesis. During the first term students are expected to decide on a thesis topic and select a thesis supervisor (the departmental Director of Graduate Studies provides advice and assistance).

Traditionally the Department's MA theses have been substantial pieces of research based on extensive work in primary sources (roughly 100 pages of text, excluding notes and bibliography). Our MA program by thesis differs from a number of other Canadian MA programs in that it probably takes somewhat longer to complete and offers financial support to students for a significantly longer period. Students on assistantship are eligible for up to five terms of support. Many consider the Thesis program to be excellent preparation for the PhD.

Guidelines for writing the thesis (PDF File)

Guidelines for writing the thesis proposal (PDF File)

An alternative, and faster, route to the MA degree is the MA by course and report. Students in this program do more extensive course work than students in the Thesis stream (15 ch rather than 12). Courses will include 3 ch in Hist 6925, 9 ch of graduate courses, and 3 ch in Hist 6006 (Report Reading Course). They present a report rather than a thesis. The report can be considered as an extended research essay or a short thesis (40 to 60 pages is acceptable). Although it must involve original research, the topic of a report may be more limited than for a thesis, may address historiographical questions exclusively, and need draw less extensively upon research into primary sources. The topic for the report will usually arise out of one of the graduate courses completed and be supervised by the instructor of the course. Reports are held to the same rigorous intellectual standard as theses, however, and in format and examination the report is treated in much the same way as a thesis. The MA by course and report is a three term (one year) program, so students in this program are eligible for financial support for up to three terms.

Language Requirements

All students pursuing the MA degree by Thesis or by Course and Report in the field of Canadian history must show a reading knowledge of French sufficient to allow them to use that language in their historical research and study. There are no formal second language requirements for MA students in other fields.