The Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies Graduate Program at MSU is designed to train students to think historically, to conduct research effectively, and to write lucidly. Students research and write in seminar settings as well as individually under the guidance of each student’s graduate committee.  The program seeks to expand students’ intellectual horizons and expose students to the variety of roles played by historians in academic and public life through seminar discussions, classroom instruction, teaching assistantships, and internships.

The Department offers concentrated training in three particular areas: the history of science, technology, and society; environmental history; and history of the American West. While the degrees offered by the Department are grounded in American history, the faculty is committed to familiarizing students with critical theoretical concerns, the history of women in a multi-cultural context, and to encourage students to think about the history of the United States in a global context.

Preference will be given to applications submitted before January 31st for admittance in upcoming Fall semester. No applications will be considered after March 31st. If you wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship, please submit application by February 15. For Spring admit, the application deadline is November 1st

Course Requirements

The M.A. degree requires a total of 30 credit-hours.

All students must take History 503: History of America Before 1860 (3 credits); History 505: U.S. History 1860 to the Present (3 credits); History 512: Topics in World History (3 credits); and History 540: Historical Methods (3 credits). In addition to the courses listed above, students may also take up to three 400-level courses in history and in related disciplines. This could include, for instance, historical geography and internships at museums and historical societies.

Students must also complete either Plan A, thesis option, or Plan B, professional paper. Students who follow the thesis option must complete a minimum of 10 credits of History 590: Thesis. Students who follow the professional paper option must complete a maximum of 6 credits of History 575: Professional Paper.

Mastery of Subject Matter

Mastery of the major field will be determined by:

  1. a thesis or professional research paper
  2. a record of excellence in all courses taken as part of the graduate program
  3. two written exams, each generated by the faculty
  4. a two-hour final oral examination with the student’s graduate committee


Written and oral examinations are normally taken during the student’s last semester. The written exams occur on set dates, as determined by the department each year. Oral exams are held the week or two following writtens; students must work with the Department and their committee to schedule their exams.

Contact Information

For more information about the History and Philosophy Department Graduate programs, please contact Tim LeCain, Director of Graduate Studies, or call the main History office: (406) 994-4395.