Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
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Guide for Graduate Students

Master of Arts in History

The program
Admission requirements
Nature of course offerings
Requirements and restrictions
Time limitation
Comprehensive examination
Statement of intent to graduate
Timetable for M.A. program
Forms and applications

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M.A. Program Requirements and Restrictions

Note: For all history papers you must follow the format recommended by the most recent edition of Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). The Chicago Manual of Style is also acceptable. Note that both manuals also give formats for the work-cited format, which is not the one we require (the notes-bibliography format). Everyone should own a copy of one of these books.

Those of you who are considering going on for a Ph.D. here or elsewhere should read the section on the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam below and follow its recommendations for preparing for the exam in every graduate class.

In general, degree requirements are the same for on-campus students and for those specifically admitted to the online program (as opposed to regular students who take some online courses). You should be aware that, although you will be able to get a M.A. degree in about the same time as if you were on campus in most cases, you will have much less choice in your courses, since we offer far fewer online courses than classroom ones.

There are a few exceptions. If you are an online student, taking no courses in the classroom:

  • You may take as many as 9 credits of 6000-level courses (which are graduate components of undergraduate courses) instead of 6.
  • Normally writing a thesis is not possible for online M.A. students, although occasionally it can be arranged if you have sufficient access to necessary materials (including an interlibrary loan program where you live) and you can convince a professor that it is a practical and desirable option..
  • The comprehensive examination at the end of the program may be written instead of oral.

1. A total of 33 credits, which will include nine credits of thesis hours if you write a thesis.

2. No more than 6 credits of 6000-level courses. Those in the Ancient Egypt concentration may take more than 6 hours with the permission of the Egyptology faculty.

3. One historiography course, in any field. You may take more historiography courses, in other fields, if you like; in fact, we highly recommend it. You should take a historiography course as soon as possible, and you can’t take a 7070 seminar until you do.

4. One History 7070 seminar. You may take more if you wish. You must take a historiography class before taking History 7070, although it need not be in the same field as the 7070 class.

5. The following courses do not count toward the degree: History 7020 (Seminar for Teaching Assistants), History 7021 (Colloquium for Graduate Assistants), History 7022 (Teaching Skills for Graduate Assistants), History 7991 (Independent Readings).

6. You may take no more than 24 hours in United States History, European History, or any one broad field of history, such as Asian History. This means that you must take three courses in other fields. Unless you specialize in Ancient Egypt, there is no requirement that you take a minimum number of courses in any one field.

7. No grade of C+ or lower may count toward the required number of credits.

8. You may take six hours in fields outside history, with the approval of the Graduate Coordinator. Courses with a historical relevance are normally acceptable, such as most graduate courses in Art History, Philosophy, or Literature. But methods and techniques courses are usually not acceptable. Under special circumstances, students may petition for up to an additional 6 hours, although this would only be if such extra hours were judged to be important to the student’s thesis or other academic needs. If outside courses are at the 6000-level, they count toward the limit in item 2 above.

9. You are restricted to one History 7012 Directed Readings course. If there is a good reason, you may petition to take one more. For any Directed Readings class you will need to fill out and have the professor sign a form. See above, under Nature of the Course Offerings, for the procedure, and for a qualification of this rule for Egyptology students.

10. In the last term of courses (or later, if you do not make the deadline for that semester), you must take an oral comprehensive examination, which covers all your coursework. It is given by a committee of at least three professors chosen by you and your advisor. In most cases one committee member should be outside the field of most of your courses. See below for details. If you would like to continue in the Ph.D. program, you must submit an application for it. If you want to continue immediately, you will normally have to file this application before your comprehensive exam to meet the September 15 or January 15 application deadline, but we will not make a decision until after your comprehensive exam and the recommendation of your comps committee supporting your continuance (see below). By September 15 or January 15 you should submit your Statement of Purpose, writing sample, and recommendations to the department and the Change of Status form, available at, to the Graduate School.

11. If you write a thesis, you must defend it before a departmental committee chaired by the faculty member who directed it. Usually, though not always, the thesis defense and the comprehensive examination are conducted by the same committee and at the same time.

12. You must complete all the requirements for the degree within a six-year period beginning at the end of the calendar year in which you first enroll. There are no exceptions to this policy. You may, however, be able to “validate” some old courses; see the graduate catalog. Such validation, which generally involves additional readings, and must include a written exam, is limited to 1/3 of the total credits required for the degree and to courses with a fixed content. In particular, you cannot validate directed readings, research seminars, or thesis credit.

13. You may transfer a maximum of 12 semester hours of credit from another college or university, provided these credits are no more than 6 years old when you receive the M.A. degree. We will not accept the transfer of credit for grades less than B. In addition to formal university acceptance of the courses, for which you must file the appropriate form ( (pdf)) with the Graduate School, the Graduate Coordinator must accept the courses in order for them to count toward the degree. The Graduate School form asks for the University of Memphis equivalent of each course; what it really wants to know is whether it is the equivalent of a 6000- or 7000-level course, so this information is all you need provide (write, e.g., 7--- in the space). In order to prove what the course numbers mean, you should attach a copy of the page from the institution’s catalog that explains their numbering system.

Concentration in Ancient Egyptian History:
(Note: “Concentration” refers to a specific program in this area. It does not imply that this is our only area of specialization.) Those living in most southern states who are accepted in this concentration are generally eligible for the in-state tuition authorized by the Academic Common Market ( Please note that if you wish to enter the M.A. program in Ancient Egyptian history, you must have the explicit approval of the Egyptology faculty. At present this consists of Dr. Peter Brand,, and Dr. Suzanne Onstine, If you are interested in the Egyptology concentration, you should write to Dr. Onstine, explaining your interest and background in Egyptology and related areas, such as other ancient history, ancient Near Eastern cultures, classics, archaeology, anthropology, or Middle East studies. See for more information on the Egyptology program.

Although the department evaluates most applications twice a year, as mentioned above, the Egyptology faculty considers all current applicants as a group only once, after January 15. This has become necessary because of the large number of applicants. Although we may accept applications after that, your best chance of admission is to apply by January 15. Admission for fall is the norm, since the beginning-level language classes are year-long and cannot be started in spring. If you have taken at least one year of Middle Egyptian at the time of application, or there are extenuating circumstances, we may consider spring admission.

Beyond the core requirements, those who choose this concentration must take eighteen (18) credits of MA-level courses with a focus on ancient Egypt, which includes nine thesis credits for those writing a thesis. They will also have to take two semesters of basic Middle Egyptian (ARTH 7115 and 7116, or other courses as approved by the Egyptologists), plus two more semesters of readings from ancient Middle Egyptian texts, which do count toward the degree. Courses in ancient art, anthropology, and language (taught in the Art, Anthropology, and/or Foreign Language Departments) may be counted as being outside the Ancient History field for the purpose of the requirement in item 7 above.

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