MA Program

Applicants who already hold an MA in history earned in the last six years are eligible to apply to our PhD program. Applicants with a master’s degree awarded in the last six years in a closely related discipline (including, but not limited to, American studies, Latin American studies, medieval studies, etc.) and whose training was primarily historical may petition the departmental Graduate Committee to apply directly to the PhD program. Permission will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Dr. Daniel Riches, the director of Graduate Studies, to make such a request:

All other applicants apply to our MA program. There are two plans for earning an MA degree in history at The University of Alabama:

  • Plan I requires 24 credit hours in history, a thesis, and reading proficiency in one foreign language. There is an oral examination after the candidate has completed his or her thesis and course work.
  • Plan II requires 30 credit hours in history, four of them in a seminar course, and reading proficiency in one foreign language. In addition, students prepare a synthetic essay that reflects upon the historian’s craft and discusses which methods, historiographical fields, theoretical frameworks, specific works of history and/or individual scholars have contributed to the student’s understanding of history. In the final semester students undergo an oral examination on the revised seminar paper and the synthetic essay.

Most of our master’s students complete Plan II. In lieu of a formal master’s thesis, we emphasize producing a strong seminar paper involving original research, with the goal of publishing the seminar paper as an article in a professional journal.


All incoming MA students must take the History Colloquium (HY 665) in their first semester, a course that introduces students to the professional study of history. MA students must also take at least two Literature of the Field courses in different geographic areas, such as U.S., European, and/or Latin American. MA students who elect to follow Plan II must also take at least one research seminar.

Continuation to the PhD Program

Students who complete the MA in History at UA do NOT need to submit a written application for admission to the PhD program. Rather, they need to indicate to the Department their desire to be considered for continuation, and the Graduate Committee will then make a determination on continuation based on:

  1. A review of the student’s full academic record
  2. The input of the faculty member identified by the student as the potential dissertation director
  3. A written evaluation produced by the MA exam committee following the exam