Options A and B: General Degree in History

Option A: Thesis Option

Course Work

Minimum degree requirement is 24 graduate credits, at least 21 of which must be taken in History. Required credit distribution:

  • 3 credits in 712 (Historiography and Theory of History) or 713 (Historical Research Methods)
  • 6 credits in two colloquia
  • 6 credits in two seminars
  • 6 credits for thesis; remaining 3 credits in electives selected in consultation with adviser

Students may take 3 credits of either Hist 716 (Professional and Pedagogical Issues in History) or Hist 717 (History and the New Media) as a substitute for 3 credits in one colloquium.

Academic Review

Within the first semester after completing 9 credits (including two of the following courses: 712, 713, a colloquium and/or seminar), Option A students are required to request an Academic Review from your Major Professor. After this review, you and your advisor should complete the Advisor Designation and Academic Review Form and return it to the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Review is a one-hour meeting involving you and your Major Professor. The Review includes an evaluation of your academic progress in master's course work, and of two unrevised course papers. At this review, you and your advisor also will discuss ideas for a thesis, consider two other faculty members who could serve on your thesis committee and serve as secondary readers of your thesis, clarify procedures for preparing a thesis prospectus, and set a tentative date for a thesis proposal hearing and for completing the thesis itself. After this review, you and your advisor should complete the Advisor Designation and Academic Review Form and return it to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Preparing a Thesis Prospectus for Your Thesis Hearing

In consultation with your thesis committee, you will prepare a thesis prospectus. The prospectus should be approximately 5-10 pages long. It must begin with a brief description of the topic or problem to be addressed. Next, explain your topic’s historical significance and relate it to the subject’s historiography. For example, if you plan to do a study of the 1968 presidential election in Wisconsin, you should explain what light you believe your study will shed on both Wisconsin politics in the 1960s and on the literature of the 1968 election nationally. What questions will shape your research? What sources will you consult to help you answer these questions? In this regard, you should discuss your methodology and provide a tentative outline of chapters and a working bibliography of primary and secondary sources. If the research will require travel, you should also include a brief description of the collections you will use. If you plan on applying for departmental travel funds to support your thesis research, you should also include a budget.

The prospectus should be submitted to your advisor at least two weeks before the Thesis Hearing. She or he may ask you to revise the prospectus before the formal hearing takes place. At the hearing, your advisor and other committee may ask you to clarify your research plans and suggest further revisions. Your committee will decide if it is acceptable. After the proposal is approved, you and your committee must complete the “Thesis Proposal Approval Form” and return it to the Director of Graduate Studies. Once the prospectus is approved, you may begin work in earnest on your thesis.

Thesis Requirements

A history thesis must be an original piece of historical research based substantially on primary sources. Theses are usually between 100 and 150 pages in length. At least 4 weeks before the last day of classes during the semester in which a degree is to be awarded, you should submit a final draft of your thesis to your committee. The final thesis, after approval by your committee, must be formatted according to Graduate School guidelines. Make sure you read the Graduate School’s booklet “Master’s Thesis and Dissertation Format Requirements” available online at www.uwm.edu/Dept/Grad_School/Publications or in Mitchell Hall 261.

Oral Defense

You must pass an oral examination in which you defend your thesis. The oral defense usually last about an hour and should be scheduled in consultation with your Major Professor after you submit a final draft of your thesis to your committee. The defense should occur no later than 2 weeks prior to the expected date of graduation.

Option B: Comprehensive Exam Option

Course Work

Minimum degree requirement is 24 graduate credits, 18 of which must be taken in History. Required credit distribution:

  • 3 credits in 712 (Historiography and Theory of History) or 713 (Historical Research Methods)
  • 6 credits in two colloquia (800 numbers)
  • 6 credits in two seminars (900 numbers)
  • 9 credits in electives selected in consultation with the student's adviser

A thesis is not required for this option. Students may take 3 credits of either Hist 716 (Professional and Pedagogical Issues in History) or Hist 717 (History and the New Media) as a substitute for 3 credits in one colloquium.

Academic Review

Within the first semester after completing 9 credits (including two of the following courses: 712, 713, a colloquium and/or seminar), Option B students are required to request an Academic Review from your Major Professor. The Review involves an evaluation of your academic progress in master's course work, and of two unrevised course papers. Option B students must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination. At your Review, you and your advisor will discuss the general areas for the exam. You also will consider two other faculty members who could serve on your comprehensive examination committee, and begin to identify some books and key articles for your examination reading list. After this review, you and your advisor should complete the Advisor Designation and Academic Review Form and return it to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Preparing the Comprehensive Examination Reading List

You may take the exam in one of the following areas: Ancient; Medieval; Early Modern Europe; Europe since 1815; United States; global; and African, Asian, Latin American and/or Middle Eastern history. Your examination committee will help you prepare a reading list of between 25 and 30 books for this exam. Once your committee approves of this list, you and the committee members must complete the “Comprehensive Examination Reading List Approval Form” and return it to the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Comprehensive Examination

You may schedule the exam at any time during the semester. The written exam is a three-hour open-book, open-note exam in Holton Hall. Usually, one question is historiographical and asks students to discuss how historians have interpreted a particular subject in the student’s field of interest. A second question usually asks students to discuss a significant historical question about the student’s field. You should schedule the one-hour oral defense in consultation with your committee within ten days of the written exam. In this defense, you may be asked to elaborate on your essays, or to discuss subjects in your major fields that were not examined in the essay examination. If you fail either the written or oral part of the examination, you fail the entire exam. If you fail the exam, you have one more chance to pass it.