Working with the Department

Making contact

E-mail is generally the best way to get in touch with staff or faculty. Please use your secure Mason account, as that is the official means of all campus communication.

Your main points of contact for the program are the graduate director, Dr. Stephen Robertson ( and the graduate coordinator Ms. Lea Burgess (  Dr. Robertson serves as the academic advisor for every MA History student. He can explain the workings of the historical profession and help you design a program to meet your own goals. 

In addition, you will get to know other faculty and can seek their advice. Indeed, you should plan to complete the program having gotten to know at least some faculty in your major fields reasonably well. Taking two or more courses with the same instructor is a good way to achieve this; professors who see you in multiple classes are better able to judge your performance and write strong letters of recommendation. You can find a list of full-time faculty and their specialties on the department website. Individual faculty pages list office hours as well, though it is usually best to request an appointment rather than show up unannounced.

The university's Statement of Expectations for Graduate Student and Faculty Interactions explains more about working with faculty.

To make an advising appointment with Professor Robertson, please email him (

Tracking your progress

Because each student’s goals and course selections are unique, it can be hard to keep track of which degree requirements you have completed. The university offers an online tool called Degree Works within the Patriot Web student registration and billing system, which claims to offer real-time information on your progress toward completing your degree. In practice, the registrar’s office lacks the staff to keep this information updated for tens of thousands of students, so you can expect Degree Works to show unmet requirements even when you have done all that you need to for a particular requirement.

A better indicator of your progress is your Program of Study, maintained by the graduate director. This is a listing of all the courses you have completed, organized by the requirements they fulfill by your particular path and concentration.

Templates for each concentration are updated frequently. Please contact the graduate director for the most recent versions.

The department has some, though not infinite, flexibility to adjust the requirements of the program, tracks, and individual courses to reflect your particular circumstances. For example, if you are already employed in a public history setting in a way that makes the internship requirement redundant, we can substitute a regular applied class for the internship. If a requirement does not make sense to you, please ask about other options.

It is relatively common for students to need substitution waivers, which allow a course to count toward a requirement that it does not automatically fulfill. For instance, if you take a course that covers both the United States and Europe and is therefore cross-listed as HIST 615 and HIST 635, you might register for HIST 635 and later want to count that course as a U.S. history course. If this happens, contact the graduate coordinator, who will keep a running tally of the substitutions you need. In your final semester before graduation, she will process all the substitution waivers as a bundle.