Students pursue MA degrees in history for a variety of reasons, and the historical profession has embraced this variety. Yet historians have also defined five “elements of mastery” expected of MA recipients: a base of historical knowledge, research and presentation skills, a solid introduction to historical pedagogy, the foundations for a professional identity as a historian, and learning to think as a historian.
Similarly, the George Mason University Department of History and Art History has recognized that students may seek degrees for personal enrichment, as training for employment in teaching or public history, or as step toward a doctoral program, but that all share common goals of mastery.
Regardless of your particular path through the program, you will read landmark and current works by professional historians and conduct your own original research, thus learning how historians advance our knowledge of the past. Beyond this baseline, you should define your own goals for the program, which may evolve in the course of your studies, and choose courses accordingly.
The official requirements for the MA in history are listed in the University Catalog. This catalog may change each year, so it is important to track which set of requirements you are pursuing. Typically these are the requirements listed in the catalog for the year you began the program. You do have the option to change to the requirements in a later catalog year.
HIST 610: The Study and Writing of History is our introduction to the questions posed by historians and the methods used to answer them.
These pages are designed to supplement those materials by providing a set of strategies for defining your own goals, navigating the requirements in a way to meet those goals, and getting more information about the MA program and the historical enterprise.