M.A. Program Requirements and Restrictions


In general, degree requirements are the same for on-campus students and for those who are specifically admitted to the online program. A major exception is that students in the online M.A. program must take all their courses online, while regular students are allowed to take some online courses to supplement their in-class 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 fewer courses to choose from.

There are a few exceptions to the requirements stated below. If you are in the online M.A. program, 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; however, 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.

  • The concentration in Ancient Egyptian History is not offered online (though we do offer an occasional course in this field).


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 and follow its recommendations for preparing for the exam in every graduate class.

1.   A total of 33 credits (11 graduate-level courses. If you write a thesis, you will take 24 credits (8 courses) and nine credits of thesis.

2. No more than 6 credits (2 courses) of 6000-level courses. Those in the Ancient Egypt concentration may take more than 6 hours with the permission of the Egyptology faculty; other on-campus students may petition the Director of Graduate Studies to take 9 credits (3 courses) at the 6000-level. Those who are in the online M.A. program may take 9 hours.

3.  One historiography course. We encourage you to take more than one. You should take a historiography course as soon as possible, and you may not 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.  History 7991 (Independent Readings) does not count toward the 33 credits needed for degree completion.

6.  You may take no more than 24 hours in any broad field of history, such as US history or European History. This means that you must take at least 9 hours (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 up to six hours in fields outside history with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Courses with a historical relevance are normally acceptable; methods and techniques courses are usually not acceptable. Under special circumstances, students may petition for up to an additional 6 hours.

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 must have approval from the professor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

10. You must take an oral comprehensive examination the last term of courses (or later, if you do not make the deadline for that semester). The M.A. comprehensive exam covers all your coursework (if you are in the online M.A. program, the examination may be written instead of oral). It is given by a committee of at least three professors. In most cases one committee member should be outside the field of most of your courses. Click here for more information about the M.A. exam.

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 https://www.memphis.edu/gradschool/pdfs/forms/changeofstatus.pdf, 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. The thesis defense and the comprehensive examination are normally conducted by the same committee and at the same time.

12. You must complete all the requirements for the degree within a eight-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 9 credit hours and to courses with a fixed content. In particular, you cannot validate directed readings, research seminars, or thesis credit. Only those courses still being taught are eligible for validation. The course validation system can be accessed through the following URL: Credit By Exam.

13. You may transfer a maximum of 15 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 with the Graduate School, the Director of Graduate Studies 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.

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 and follow its recommendations for preparing for the exam in every graduate class.

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.

Concentration in Ancient Egyptian History:

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. Students in this concentration 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 6 above.

(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 and who are accepted into this concentration are generally eligible for the in-state tuition authorized by the Academic Common Market (http://www.cep.unt.edu/ACM.html).