Master of Arts in History

The Master of Arts in History program at Sam Houston State University prepares students to critically analyze historical events; to assess major interpretive problems and historiographical debates; to weigh and interpret conflicting evidence; to evaluate change over time; to acknowledge the complexities and contingencies of the past; and to appreciate the texture and diversity of human experiences. Students who complete the MA in History degree should be able to make and sustain an historical argument in professional prose; to position those arguments in larger interpretive frameworks; to evaluate the merits of an historical argument; and to pose good questions, both about the past and their own particular moment. Courses are delivered online and asynchronously, but small class sizes ensure that students have ample opportunities for engagement with their instructional faculty. This degree prepares students who wish to pursue a doctoral degree in the discipline or who wish to gain certification to teach dual-credit or two-year college courses in History. The program also serves general interest learners who wish to enrich their understanding of the past.

To organize their coursework, students select one of the following thematic tracks, each of which represent mainstays of the human experience.  Each track transcends time and space, inviting students to ask thematic questions and to build connections between courses and historiographies.  

Rights & Identity: Students explore how individuals and collectives have defined themselves at different times and places around the world. Students will examine how such matters as social order, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, national origins, and other factors have shaped personal identity and group consciousness. In addition, classes in this track will explore how custom, rights, citizenship, and belonging have been negotiated and contested by various states and non-state actors around the world.

War & Violence: War and violence have been mainstays of human history. Students examine how various societies throughout history have experienced, conducted, and remembered military conflict, mass killing, and genocide. How has the conduct of war changed over time? What are the human, emotional, and cultural consequences of war? When and why do societies resort to armed conflict? 

Encounters & Exchanges: Students examine the themes of encounter and exchange throughout history.  Cross-cultural encounters have been central to the human experience since antiquity and have sometimes manifested themselves on the large scale, as is evident with the Silk Roads, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and, most recently, globalization.  Trade, missionary activity, and imperialism are other avenues by which the world’s diverse peoples have interacted.  

Additional information: Reference the Program Landing Page for additional information, such as cost, delivery format, contact information, or to schedule a visit.

Students seeking admission to the MA in History must meet the following requirements and submit all documents to the Office of Graduate Admissions:

  1. Graduate Application: The Graduate Application is an institutional application required by SHSU. Students must provide biographical and educational information and information relevant to determining State of Texas residency.
  2. Application fee: An application fee is required for all applications to graduate programs at SHSU.
  3. Transcripts documenting all prior degrees.*
  4. Two letters of recommendation that discuss the applicant’s academic and professional potential.
  5. Statement of Intent: Applicants should submit a written statement explaining why they wish to pursue an MA in History; how their educational background or work experience has prepared them to undertake a graduate degree in history; and what they plan to do professionally with the degree.  
  6. An academic writing sample demonstrating the applicant’s ability to advance an argument in professional prose.
  7. Completion of at least eighteen semester credit hours in history at the undergraduate level. Courses from other disciplines may be counted toward this requirement if they had a strong historical focus.

Applicants may submit additional information about relevant coursework with their application file.

Applicants who have not completed eighteen semester credit hours in history may be probationally accepted to the program after a holistic review of their application file.    

*Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts for review by the admissions committee. However, under university policy, admission decisions are contingent upon receipt of official transcripts.

Admission Deadlines:
Fall: March 1
Summer: March 1
Spring: October 1

Applicants must submit all application materials directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions by the relevant deadline. A holistic review of each applicant’s file will then be completed, with admission to the MA in History program offered to applicants on a competitive basis.

Note: Incomplete applications will not be considered.

During a student's final semester of coursework, non-thesis students will submit a portfolio of their written work. In addition to a cover sheet and table of contents, this portfolio will include one sample of written work from each course, an annotated bibliography of books and articles read in those courses, and an original essay reflecting on their major thematic track. Thesis students shall be exempt from the portfolio requirement.

Plan 1 - MA in History (Thesis)

Master of Arts in History (Thesis)
Required Courses
HIST 5301Methods in History3
HIST 6098Thesis I 13
HIST 6099Thesis II 13
Track Core Courses 215
General Electives 36
Total Hours30

Thesis must be prepared on a subject within the student's thematic track. 


See History Track listing below. 


Complete any two graduate history courses outside of track. 

Plan 2 - MA in History (Non-Thesis)

Master of Arts in History (Non-Thesis)
Specified Courses
HIST 5301Methods in History3
HIST 6394Seminar in History3
Track Core Courses 115
Track Electives 16
General Electives 29
Total Hours36

 See History Track course listings below.


Complete any three graduate history courses outside of track. 

Plan 3 - MA in History with Concentration

Master of Arts in History with Minor
Specified Courses
HIST 5301Methods in History3
HIST 6394Seminar in History3
Track Core Courses 115
Track Electives 13
Concentration 212
Total Hours36

See History Track course listings below.


Select four of any graduate courses in a field approved by a Graduate Advisor.  No student should take any course ourside of the History Department prior to receiving written approval for a concentration from the Graduate Director and Department Chair. 

History Tracks

Encounters and Exchanges
Core Courses
HIST 5307Intellectual History3
HIST 5320Mesoamerican Civilizations3
HIST 5321American Immigration History3
HIST 5338Empires in World History3
HIST 5370Colonial America3
HIST 5377The American West3
HIST 5381World Historiography3
HIST 5384Texas History3
HIST 5385Latin American History3
HIST 5396Cross-Cultural Interactions3
Elective Courses
HIST 5322Debates in Global Migration3
HIST 5342The Japanese Colonial Empire3
HIST 5359The Audible Past3
HIST 5360African Environmental History3
HIST 5362Seminar in American Environmental History3
HIST 5375Recent America, 1876-19333
HIST 5388Public History3
Rights and Identity
Core Courses
HIST 5340Recent African-American History3
HIST 5372Early National America3
HIST 5376Contemporary America, 1933-Present3
HIST 5378American Cultural and Religious History3
HIST 5380American Historiography3
HIST 5382Topics In the History Of Women3
HIST 5386African American Civil Rights3
HIST 5394Early Modern Europe3
HIST 5395Later Modern Europe3
Elective Courses
HIST 5321American Immigration History3
HIST 5322Debates in Global Migration3
HIST 5353Legacies of the Reformations3
HIST 5362Seminar in American Environmental History3
HIST 5371Revolutionary America3
HIST 5374Seminar in the History of the American South3
HIST 5375Recent America, 1876-19333
HIST 5389Great Britain and the British Empire3
War and Violence
Core Courses
HIST 5342The Japanese Colonial Empire3
HIST 5351Early Medieval Europe3
HIST 5355Holocaust & Genocide3
HIST 5363Seminar In Military History3
HIST 5364Seminar in War & Violence3
HIST 5367World War II3
HIST 5373United States Civil War3
HIST 5383United States Diplomatic History3
HIST 5392The Ottoman Empire, 1300-19223
HIST 5393European Diplomatic History3
Elective Courses
HIST 5333Pre-Modern World History3
HIST 5336Pre-Modern European History3
HIST 5352High and Late Medieval Europe3
HIST 5365Film and War in America3
HIST 5366The Reconstruction Era3
HIST 5368Britain's Modern Wars, 1899 to the Present3
HIST 5371Revolutionary America3
HIST 5374Seminar in the History of the American South3

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) marketable skills initiative is part of the state’s 60x30TX plan and was designed to help students articulate their skills to employers.  Marketable skills are those skills valued by employers and/or graduate programs that can be applied in a variety of work or education settings and may include interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skill areas.

The MA in History is designed to provide graduates with the following marketable skills:

  • Engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities while promoting civil discourse and civic participation.
  • Express ideas in written, oral, and visual communication.
  • Think critically and analytically.
  • Evaluate and interpret textual and non-textual evidence/sources of information.
  • Build an informed belief system by synthesizing knowledge and posing questions about different societies and cultures.