The primary source of advisement is the history department graduate coordinator. The graduate coordinator is available for consultation about program requirements, course selection, fellowship opportunities, and career advice. Students can arrange an appointment with the graduate coordinator by calling the history office at 818-677-3566. Once students have decided on their fields of study or thesis topic, they generally seek advice from faculty in the relevant subject areas in addition to the graduate coordinator.
What is classified status and how do I become classified in the History department?
Graduate students are admitted into either classified or conditionally classified status. In order to be granted classified status upon admission, students must have passed the University’s Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE) and have met at least one of the following requirements:
- Have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better.
- Hold a graduate degree from an accredited institution.
- Score at or above the 50th percentile on at least one of the three portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), i.e., verbal, quantitative, or analytical.
- Score at or above the 50th percentile on some other national university-approved examination, e.g., MCAT.
Students who have not met these requirements at the time of application will be admitted into conditionally classified status, and must complete the requirements for classified status during their first twelve units of coursework. No more than twelve units of coursework taken prior to attaining classified status will be applied to the MA program of study. Furthermore, in order to be granted classified status students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average for all coursework taken as a conditionally classified student. Once all the requirements for classified status have been met, it is the student’s responsibility to file a Request for Classification form, which is available in the History department office.
How many courses should I take each semester?
Nine units of coursework constitute full-time status in the graduate program. Students may attend either full- or part time. Students who are working part-time should reduce their course load accordingly.
How many courses (or units) do I need to get my MA degree?
Graduate students must complete at least thirty (30) units of coursework, of which at least twenty-four (24) units must be graduate-level history courses (numbered at the 500- or 600-level). Graduate students may receive credit for no more than two 400-level courses (excluding courses numbered HIST 497 and HIST 498 which are reserved for undergraduates only), or two graduate-level courses outside the history department.
Where can I find listings of graduate courses?
Departmental course offerings are listed in the Schedule of Classes, which is available online and at the Matador Bookstore. Detailed course descriptions are provided in the department newsletter, which is available online and in the history office towards the end of every semester.
How do I register for classes?
Course registration takes place online through the University’s Web Portal. All graduate courses have restricted enrollment. Students must obtain a permission number from the course instructor in order to enroll.
Are there any required courses in the History MA degree program?
The only required course is HIST 601 (Theory and Historiography), which must be completed during the first two semesters in the MA program. Students must complete at least one graduate-level history course in at least three of the department-approved geographical areas of focus (United States, Europe, Latin America, and World), and at least two graduate-level courses in at least two of these areas. Graduate students must also write two substantial research papers of 20-25 pages each, based on original, primary-source research. This requirement may be met by taking 600-level seminars or by enrolling in Directed Research (HIST 693) or Independent Study (699) under the supervision of department faculty.
What are comprehensive exams and what fields of study can I pursue?
In consultation with the graduate coordinator and two faculty advisors, students are to choose two fields in which to take written exams. These provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to integrate content knowledge and critical analysis by answering questions that test their chronological, historiographical, and methodological mastery of two historical fields of study. It is expected that students will do substantial reading beyond their coursework in preparation for the exams. Exams last four hours for each field, and are read by three readers: the supervisors of the two fields and a third reader. Exams are graded Pass, Fail, and Pass with Distinction. Students should register for HIST 697 after they have completed thirty units of course work, during the semester in which they are preparing for their comprehensive examinations. Approved fields are as follows:
- US to / since 1865
- Western / California History
- Urban History
- Women’s History
- Slavery / Civil War / Reconstruction
- Economic History
- Medieval / Modern
- Russia / SovietUnion
- Latin America
- World / Atlantic
Students wishing to pursue a field not on the above list must present a Field Proposal for approval to the graduate coordinator in which they justify and outline their proposed field and indicate who their faculty advisor will be.
Can I write a thesis?
In lieu of comprehensive examinations, students may apply to write a thesis. A Master’s thesis is a significant piece of writing based on original research which substantiates a specific view as expressed in a question or hypothesis. Students wishing to write a thesis must demonstrate that they are capable of doing original research, adequately prepared in their field, have a research question that can be completed in the time allowable, and will be able to present their findings in a scholarly manner.
Students interested in writing a thesis must secure a faculty sponsor, and, in consultation with their sponsor and the graduate coordinator, set up a three-person committee of which the chair and at least one other member must be full-time History faculty. Once a committee has been established, the student and committee will come to an agreement regarding the title and scope of the thesis, at which point they and the graduate coordinator will sign a thesis planning form and submit it to the Office of Graduate Studies.
Thesis guidelines are available from the History Office and the Office of Graduate Studies. Students in the process of researching or writing their thesis may apply in the fall to the Office of Graduate Studies for awards of up to $1,000 to help defray costs associated with travel to a research site. The completed thesis must be submitted to the thesis committee in time for committee members to suggest revisions prior to granting final approval. It must also be submitted to Graduate Evaluation Services to ensure compliance with University formatting requirements.
Students should enroll in HIST 698 after they have completed 30 units of coursework and have had their formal program approved. If the thesis is not completed within one semester, a grade of SP (Satisfactory Progress) will be assigned, which must be converted to a CR/NC grade within two years. Any request for an extension must be approved by the Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies. Students must be registered during the semester in which they submit their completed thesis. If students have already enrolled in HIST 698, they should enroll in XEDU 980 through the Tseng College of Extended Learning.
What sorts of fellowships do the University and the History Department Offer?
The University’s Financial Aid Office (818-677-3000) provides information and applications for students who need financial assistance, which can come in the form of scholarships, loans, and employment. In addition, the History Department makes a number of awards each semester to outstanding graduate students. These include the following:
- The Baur Scholarships, which provide a waiver of CSUN tuition and fees for one semester
- The Michael Patterson Scholarships, for students pursuing a secondary teaching credential
- The Whitsett Fellowship, which provides a stipend of $3,000 to a student studying the history of California and the US West
- The Ricci-Lothrop Scholarship, which assists students with dependent children who are returning to the university following a significant interruption in their education
- The Rena Vassar Fellowship, for graduate students who have completed at least twelve units of graduate work at CSUN and who are not in their final semester
- The Stelck Memorial Award, given to outstanding graduate students
Are there teaching opportunities?
Qualified graduate students, once they have completed a semester of coursework, may serve as teaching assistants either for credit or, under certain conditions, for nominal pay. Working closely with a supervising member of the faculty, teaching assistants may grade papers and exams, lead discussion and review sessions, hold office hours, and deliver lectures. Interested students should contact either a member of the faculty or the graduate coordinator. Students wishing to receive credit should enroll in HIST 694 (Practicum for Teaching Assistants). Students may enroll in HIST 694 a maximum of two times.
Is there a minimum grade point average that I need to maintain?
All courses taken to meet any of the program requirements must be completed with a grade of C or higher. Students will be placed on academic probation whenever their grade point average falls below 3.0 in all units attempted since admission to the program. To be removed from probation, students must earn sufficient grade points in the following semester of enrollment to raise their grade point average to 3.0 or above. Failure to do so will result in disqualification from the MA program and the university. Students who maintain a grade point average of 3.885 or higher in all formal MA program course work will receive the MA degree “with distinction,” which will be noted on the student’s transcript and on the diploma.
What if I need an incomplete?
Incompletes may be granted at the discretion of an instructor when a student has not completed all the required work for a given course due to unforeseen but fully justified reasons. A final grade is assigned when the remaining work has been completed and evaluated. All outstanding work must be completed within one calendar year. If the required work is not submitted, the incomplete will be computed as an F in all subsequent grade point average determinations. History graduate students may not carry more than three incompletes at any one time.
Am I allowed to take an academic leave?
Students in good standing may take a one- or two-semester leave of absence. No application form is required. After two consecutive semesters without enrolling in any courses, students will be automatically disqualified from the History MA Program and from the University, and will be required to reapply should they wish to resume their studies.
Can I transfer credits from another school?
No more than nine units of transfer work, extension work, or work completed prior to earning a BA degree at CSUN may be counted towards the MA degree. Transfer credit is subject to the approval of the department graduate coordinator and the Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies. Only that work for which a student has received a grade of B or better may be transferred. Work unacceptable for graduate credit in the school where it was taken is not acceptable for graduate credit at CSUN. Transfer courses may not have been taken more than seven years prior to the time of graduation.
Can I do a joint MA and Preliminary Single Subject Credential?
There is no combined program leading to both a MA in History and a Teaching Credential. Students must apply to both programs separately, and complete the requirements of both programs. However, the History Department offers MA credit for two Single Subject Credential Courses: SED 511 (Fundamentals of Teaching in Multiethnic, Multilingual Secondary Schools) and SED 525SS (Theory and Research in Teaching Secondary School Social Studies).
Do I need to learn a foreign language?
The History Department strongly recommends that all students learn a foreign language, especially those planning on pursuing a PhD, but leaves to the discretion of a student’s thesis or advisors the determination of what, if any, level of competency is required in a given foreign language.
How long do I have to finish the MA program?
Students must complete all the requirements for the MA Degree within seven calendar years from the date they are admitted to the program. Courses completed more than seven years prior to the date on which all the requirements for the degree are completed cannot be counted unless the student can show current knowledge in the content area of the outdated courses by written examination for each course in question. A maximum of nine units taken in residency at CSUN may be validated in this manner.
What sorts of careers in history does the MA Program train me for?
The MA Program in History at CSUN prepares students for careers in teaching (at the private high school or community college levels), research, archival management, and museum work. It also prepares students to enter PhD programs in History. The History Office keeps a file of job listings and opportunities.
What do I need to do to graduate?
Students should apply for graduation during the semester proceeding the semester in which they expect to have their degree conferred. Students may obtain an Application for Master’s Degree and Diploma from the History Office. Students must also submit to the graduate coordinator a Formal Program, which shows that all the requirements for the MA degree have been met. Once approved by the graduate coordinator and the Office of Graduate Studies, the formal program can only be changed by submitting a course substitution form.