Graduate Catalog Graduate Research Integrated BA/MA Flatsheet 2021-22 Graduate Handbook  

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M.A. in History

The Department of History at Western Illinois University offers a program of study leading to the Master of Arts degree in WIU's School of Graduate Studies. The Department of History's M.A. program provides advanced education in the discipline of history to prepare students for careers in teaching, academia, government service, public history, and research. Check out a list of the work of some of our alumni.

History Graduate Program

The Department of History offers three plans of study that can be tailored to meet the specific needs and interests of individual students. These plans of study are the course-intensive coursework program, an applied history project, and the thesis option. The Department also offers research funding opportunities for graduate students conducting research for graduate seminars, doing thesis research, or presenting their research papers at off-campus academic conferences.

Contact Information:

Director of Graduate Studies
Professor Peter Cole
(309) 298-3691


Graduate student Frank Kalisik presenting a conference paper on his thesis,
"Unpopular Sovereignty: Stephan A. Douglas and the Decline of Popular Sovereignty, 1848-1860"


In order to be considered for admission to the Graduate Program, students must meet the admission requirements of the School of Graduate Studies and should have completed a minimum of 18 semester hours of undergraduate coursework in history.

Graduate Assistantships:

The WIU History Department awards a limited number of two-year Teaching Support Associate (TSA) positions to the most outstanding students admitted to the History M.A. program. To apply, a student must complete the application available online. All forms, personal statements, and letters of recommendation should be sent to the Graduate School. Please request that your TSA application documents be forwarded to the History Department. Students may apply at any time; position availability varies, depending on the number of students continuing in TSA positions. In addition to the TSA positions awarded by the History Department, History M.A. students may seek funding opportunities throughout the University. In the past History M.A. students have worked as Graduate Assistants in Malpass Library, the University Writing Center, the Secondary Education Program, the WIU Foundation, and the Office of Academic Services. Graduate Assistants receive a monthly stipend in addition to tuition waivers. The deadline to apply for TSA positions starting in Fall semester is April 1 and for those starting in Spring semester is November 1.

General Requirements:

History M.A. students complete both major and minor fields. Typically, students will select either United States or World  history as their major field. In some cases, a constructed field representing a theme (such as technology, gender, or military history) may be selected in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and with the approval of the Department's Graduate Committee.  Minor fields of study may be taken in United States, European, or Asian history.

Plan I. Thesis:  Students choosing the Thesis Plan must first secure approval from the graduate director and the consent of a professor who is willing to direct the thesis before pursuing this option. The Thesis Option requires 30 credit hours of coursework, including the completion of a masters-level history thesis. The student writes the thesis in his/her major field. Students are required to defend their thesis upon its completion in their last semester of coursework. For a list of M.A. theses in History completed at WIU, click here

Plan II. Applied Project:  Students choosing the Applied Project Plan must first secure the approval of the graduate director and the consent of a professor who is willing to direct the Applied Project. The Applied Project option requires 31 credit hours, including an internship and an applied history project. Internships may be completed at a variety of public history institutions; the graduate director will assist students in arranging an internship. Possible projects include, but are not limited to, the following: editing a series of primary documents for posting to an open-access website; writing a paper and submitting it for publication to an academic journal in conformity with its manuscript submission guidelines; conducting and transcribing oral history interviews to be archived in a museum or research facility; or curating a museum historical exhibit display. Students are required to take exit option B, the comprehensive written and oral exams, in their last semester of coursework.  

Plan III. General Coursework:  Students taking the General Coursework Plan must first secure the approval of the graduate director. In this plan, students are required to take 33 credit hours of coursework, divided appropriately between major and minor areas of study. Students are required to take exit option B, the comprehensive written and oral exams, in their last semester of coursework.


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