Graduate Catalog 2020-2021

History (MA)

Program Coordinator: 

Professor Susan Smith Peter

Marchi Hall (2N), Room 204

Telephone: 718.928.3290

Email: susan.smithpeter@csi.cuny.edu

Website: https://www.csi.cuny.edu/academics-and-research/departments-programs/history/master-arts-history

 

The Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote that, “Any fool can make history, but it takes genius to write it.” For students who wish to develop a genius for writing about the past, the Master's Degree in history at the College of Staten Island provides opportunities for personal growth and career development. The program meets the highest intellectual and professional standards of the historical discipline, offering training in the analytic and communications skills demanded by all the professions.

Whether graduate students are interested in the master’s degree to satisfy curiosity about the past, or as a preliminary step toward doctoral study, they will benefit from an explanation of the histories of Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America; they also will learn to recognize historical questions and to apply the methods historians have developed to analyze and describe critical human events.

The program is also suited to teachers in the social sciences with initial certification who wish to deepen their knowledge of history as they complete the master’s degree qualification demanded for professional certification. Careers in cultural institutions are also open to students with the professional training in historical research provided by the master’s program.

Graduates of the Master’s program in History at the College of Staten Island will acquire an overview of global history and a focus on a geographic area of specialization. The curriculum requires coursework distributed across four of the department’s five fields of concentration: History of Africa and the Middle East, History of Asia, History of Europe, History of Latin America and the Caribbean, and History of the United States. Students will explore one of these areas of concentration, and will complete a significant work of historical scholarship, a master’s thesis under the supervision of a thesis director. Students desiring recommendation for doctoral work will demonstrate competence in at least one foreign language.

History Admission Requirements

For matriculated status:

  1. Satisfactory completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Students not meeting this requirement may be evaluated after an interview with the program coordinator and the admissions committee.
  2. A superior record of accomplishment in undergraduate history courses, with at least a 3.0 average in these courses. Students not meeting this requirement may be evaluated after an interview with the program coordinator and the admissions committee.
  3. Two letters of recommendation from professors under whom the applicant has studied or other persons who can comment directly on the applicant's potential as a graduate student and scholar.
  4. Each applicant will provide a letter or statement not to exceed one typed page explaining why he or she is interested in pursuing graduate studies in history.
  5. Each applicant will submit a research-based writing sample 10 pages in length, preferably written for a History course.
  6. Students may enter the program in either the fall or spring semester, but are required to take HST 701 at their first opportunity.

For non-matriculated status:

Non-matriculated graduate students and graduate students in the Education program or other graduate programs, at the discretion of the MA in History program coordinator, may enroll in the program’s offerings on a space-available basis after matriculated History MA program students have been accommodated.

In special cases, master’s students may take an advanced undergraduate history course or a 600-level history course, with appropriate additional work, for degree credit, but only by special arrangement and with the prior permission of the program coordinator. Undergraduate students may, with the permission of the program coordinator, take graduate courses for credit toward their undergraduate degree or the master’s degree.

History Retention Requirements

Students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to be retained in a graduate program. Students will be able, but not required, to complete the MA Program in four semesters. Some students, particularly those who continue to work full-time while completing the degree, will find it difficult to complete all of the requirements in four semesters. This is normal in most history MA programs, and students should not be discouraged by the demanding pace of CSI's program.

History Degree Requirements

The MA in History requires 32 graduate credits at the 700-level, with all graduate courses designated at four credits, for a total of eight courses. Students must take at least one course in each of the program’s five areas of concentration, the Historical Methods course (HST 701), and either the two thesis seminars (HST 798 and HST 799) or the Preparation of MA Portfolio seminar (HST 796).

Areas of concentration

History of Africa and the Middle East

History of Asia

History of Europe

History of Latin America and the Caribbean

History of the United States

Thesis and Portfolio Options

Two equally rigorous and demanding options are available to complete the MA Degree. Students who choose to complete the thesis option will take the four-credit HST 798 Preparation of Thesis Proposal Seminar in their third semester with an additional four-credit HST 799 Thesis Tutorial Seminar during the following semester. The thesis option is highly recommended for students intending to enter a PhD program in History after completing their MA degree.

In the preparation of a proposal seminar, thesis students will develop their topic, begin research, collect bibliography, and receive instruction in research methodology and historical writing. Students will write a historiographical essay, reviewing the broader historical literature of their subject and relating their own approach to the field. Students will work with a thesis director in their field from the department faculty.

The thesis director will continue to supervise the thesis student during the semester in the tutorial seminar. The thesis will be accepted in partial completion of the degree when it is approved by the thesis director, and the second and third readers, and is deposited in the department’s archives.

The Faculty of the Department of History has established the following standards for an acceptable History MA thesis:

  • An acceptable History MA thesis must be based on extensive research in primary sources. The thesis cannot be synthetic work based on the student's own interpretation of secondary sources and the writings of other historians.
  • An acceptable History MA thesis must provide the historiographical context for the topic. The introduction to the thesis will provide a thorough literature review that illustrates student mastery of, and the study's situation within, the scholarship available on the thesis topic. Establishing the historiographical context for the thesis topic will be one of the main objectives of HST 798 in the preparation of the thesis proposal.
  • An acceptable History MA thesis must advance an original argument. This does not mean that the student will be the first or only person ever to address the topic, but it does mean that the student must bring a new perspective to the study that has not been provided by a scholar before.

(Thesis students should consult the statement of guidelines for thesis submission to the CSI Library, maintained by the MA in History program).

Students who choose to complete the Portfolio Option instead of the Thesis Option will take a 4-credit directed study course (HST 796, MA Portfolio Preparation Seminar) in their final semester of study to prepare a portfolio of their MA coursework for a defense before a faculty committee. This portfolio will consist of a minimum of one research paper of 20-30 pages (revised since initial submission for final grade in a completed MA course) and one other piece (possibly but not limited to a second research paper, a historiographical essay, an exhibition in a historical museum, or another appropriate work in public history pre-approved by the Coordinator of the MA in History). The student will consult with a faculty advisor on their portfolio two semesters prior to their expected date of graduation. A committee composed of a minimum of 2 faculty members will examine the MA candidate. The portfolio must be submitted 4 weeks before the date of the oral defense, which must take place no later than the last day of the exam period of either the Fall or Spring semester.

In the preparation of a proposal seminar, thesis students will develop their topic, begin research, collect bibliography, and receive instruction in research methodology and historical writing. Students will write a historiographical essay, reviewing the broader historical literature of their subject and relating their own approach to the field. Students will work with a thesis director in their field from the department faculty.

The thesis director will continue to supervise the thesis student during the semester in the tutorial seminar. The thesis will be accepted in partial completion of the degree when it is approved by the thesis director , and the second and third readers, and is deposited in the department’s archives.

History Probation and Dismissal

Probationary Admission to Program

In some cases (such as when a Probationary a student applies after the application closing date, with a lower-than-expected GPA, an undergraduate major other than History, or other issues), the MA committee may admit students to the program on a probationary basis. In these cases, the standing of the student will be re-evaluated by the committee at the end of the student's first semester in the program, at which point the probation may be lifted or the student will be informed that he or she may not continue in the program.

Dismissal from the Program

Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to be retained in a graduate program at the College of Staten Island. When a student fails to maintain a 3.0 GPA  or, in the opinion of the MA Committee, violates the ethical standards of the historical profession by engaging in acts of academic dishonesty or other means, otherwise fails to perform to academic or professional expectations, or behaves in a manner that is manifestly disrespectful of other students, staff, faculty, or the general public, the MA Committee may elect to place that student on probation or to dismiss that student immediately from the MA Program and/or the Advanced Certificate in Public History Program. 

If a student is placed on probation, the probationary period will last for at least one semester. During that time, the MA Committee will determine whether the student has made satisfactory progress toward correcting the situation which has resulted in the probationary status. If the Committee determines that such progress exists, it may lift the probation and may also impose specific ongoing conditions on the academic and professional performance of the student. If the Committee determines that a student has not made adequate progress, it will terminate the student from the MA Program and/or the Advanced Certificate in Public History Program.

Double Counting Policy

Undergraduate students majoring in History at the College of Staten Island and satisfying the following criteria may be granted permission to take up to three CSI 700-level History graduate courses at undergraduate tuition to be counted toward their bachelor’s degree. These graduate courses may be used to substitute for one 300-level requirement in History designations, with two additional graduate courses counting as general electives, but not counting toward the major. Courses taken under this arrangement may also be applied toward completion of the MA in History degree. 

Criteria:

  1. Current enrollment in bachelor’s degree in History at the College of Staten Island and successful completion of three years of study with 75 or more earned credits.
  2. Cumulative GPA 3.3 or above.
  3. Permissions from the course instructor, the coordinator of the History MA program, and the History Department chairperson.