Program goals

The master’s program in history draws on faculty expertise and the wealth of historical resources available in the Richmond area to support the extended exploration of the human past and the craft of history. It prepares students for the successful practice of historical scholarship in a variety of fields including archives, libraries, historical sites, museums, government agencies, businesses, publishing and secondary education, as well as for advanced study in doctoral programs.

Student learning outcomes

Graduates of the program will:

  1. Develop the ability to understand the processes and methodologies historians use to study the past
  2. Develop the ability to understand and think critically about scholarly works of history
  3. Develop the ability to do historical research and present interpretations in writing
  4. Develop the ability to understand the myriad of forces that shape human experiences and critically weigh change and continuity over time

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
M.A.FallJul 1GRE
SpringDec 1

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. Normally, 30 credit hours of undergraduate history courses, of which 18 credit hours should be at the upper-division level
  2. A GPA indicative of the ability to successfully pursue a graduate degree
  3. Three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to provide information concerning the applicant’s probable success in graduate school
  4. Satisfactory completion of the Graduate Record Examination
  5. Submission of a written statement of intent, indicating why the applicant wishes to pursue a graduate degree in history

The submission of a writing sample, demonstrating the applicant’s writing ability and research skills, is strongly encouraged.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses and to conduct significant research.

  1. The Master of Arts in History may be achieved through one of two options:
    1. The thesis option requires 30 graduate credit hours with six credit hours of HIST 698.
    2. The non-thesis option requires 36 graduate credit hours with a minimum of six credits in research-level courses and an oral comprehensive exam.
  2. At least half of the credit hours presented for graduation must be at the 600 level or higher.
  3. Students may take up to six credits of non-history electives from an approved list of elective courses. In addition, students who wish to pursue specific areas of study may, with the approval of the graduate director, substitute other courses when appropriate, but in no case shall be able to count more than six credit hours of non-history courses.

Curriculum requirements

Thesis option

Required courses
HIST   601Historiography and Methodology3
HIST   698M.A. Thesis6
Electives
Select seven of the following: 121
Studies in American History
Studies in European History
Studies in Ethnic and Social History
Studies in Virginia and Southern History
Studies in African-American History
Special Topics in History
Readings in American History
Readings in European History
Readings in Transatlantic History
Readings in Ethnic and Social History
Readings in Virginia and Southern History
Readings in African-American History
Research in American History
Research in European History
Research in Transatlantic History
Research in Ethnic and Social History
Research in Virginia and Southern History
Research in African-American History
Public History: Theory and Practice
Documentary Editing and Scholarly Publishing
American Material Culture
Oral History: Theory and Practice
Special Topics in History
Independent Study 2
Internship in History
Exploring Historical Consciousness
Total Hours30
1

With prior approval, a student may take up to six graduate credit hours from outside of the history department. 

2

Six credits maximum allowed for independent study or internship.

 Total graduate credit hours required (minimum)  30

Non-thesis option

Required course
HIST   601Historiography and Methodology3
Electives
Select two research courses of the following:6
Research in American History
Research in European History
Research in Transatlantic History
Research in Ethnic and Social History
Research in Virginia and Southern History
Research in African-American History
Select nine of the following: 127
Studies in American History
Studies in European History
Studies in Ethnic and Social History
Studies in Virginia and Southern History
Studies in African-American History
Special Topics in History
Readings in American History
Readings in European History
Readings in Transatlantic History
Readings in Ethnic and Social History
Readings in Virginia and Southern History
Readings in African-American History
Research in American History
Research in European History
Research in Transatlantic History
Research in Ethnic and Social History
Research in Virginia and Southern History
Research in African-American History
Public History: Theory and Practice
Documentary Editing and Scholarly Publishing
American Material Culture
Oral History: Theory and Practice
Special Topics in History
Independent Study 2
Internship in History
Exploring Historical Consciousness
Total Hours36
1

With prior approval, a student may take up to six graduate credit hours from outside of the history department. 

2

Six credits maximum allowed for independent study or internship.

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum)  36 

Graduate program director
Ryan K. Smith, Ph.D.
Associate professor and director of graduate studies
rksmith3@vcu.edu
(804) 828-1635

Program website: history.vcu.edu