Degree Requirements

MA Degree Requirements

Studies for the Master's degree normally require one year to complete and are pursued by combining coursework with either a Major Research Paper or a thesis. Places are available for part-time students in either of these options.

MA Degree by Thesis

Candidates for the M.A. degree by thesis must satisfactorily complete the following studies:

  • Courses
    Two full graduate courses, or the equivalent, including at least one from those offered by the Graduate program in History. (A course taken in another graduate program must relate to the student's historical studies.)
  • Thesis
    A research study reporting the results in appropriate thesis form. The thesis should demonstrate the student's ability to do original research. After the formal submission of the thesis, an oral examination, normally centred on the thesis and matters related to it, is held.The program now discourages students from seeking the degree by thesis, although it remains possible. Successive directors have concluded that three courses and a major research paper provide a better training than two courses and a thesis.

MA Degree by Course Work and Major Research Paper

Candidates for this degree must satisfy the requirements in four full graduate courses, one of which must be the Major Research Paper (MRP I). Normally three full courses, including the Major Research Paper (History 5000 6.0: M.A. Major Research Paper), will be from among those offered by the Graduate program in History. The fourth course may be selected from among those offered within the Graduate program in History or from other graduate programs when approved by the Director.The major research paper is the major research requirement for the degree.

The major research paper may be done in conjunction with a formal seminar or may be done independently of any course under agreed supervision. While the major research paper may be done in conjunction with a course it may not be submitted as the research exercise in a 5000-level course. All major research papers will be evaluated by the supervisor and a second reader approved by the Director of the Graduate program in History.

Candidates intending to graduate in the fall must complete all requirements by September 1st. Candidates proceeding to the Ph.D. degree in the Graduate program in History must satisfy all requirements by the date of registration as a Doctoral candidate.

Language and Cognate Requirements

Candidates for the M.A. degree must demonstrate an ability to read such foreign languages as are necessary to enable them to use the major secondary and primary sources relevant to their thesis and research papers. When appropriate, other skills (e.g., statistics, computer science, survey research) are required as an alternative to or in addition to foreign language requirements.

PhD Degree Requirements

  1. The Doctoral program has three components:
    • The satisfaction of course requirements, usually in the first academic or calendar year
    • Satisfaction of the field requirements in a written and oral Qualifying Exam
    • The defence of a Doctoral dissertation which demonstrates independence, originality, and ability to contribute to historical knowledge at an advanced level of investigation.
  2. Candidates in the Ph.D. I year must satisfy the requirements in three courses. All Candidates must satisfy the requirements of a major research paper (History 5010 6.0: Ph.D. I Major Research Paper). However, candidates who have completed their M.A. in the Graduate program in History at York and received a grade of at least B+ on their M.A. major research paper (MRP), may request to have the Ph.D. I major research paper requirement waived. Candidates from graduate programs at other universities with a major research component may also submit a major research paper or thesis before or upon registration with the request that it satisfy the Ph.D. I major research paper requirement. Candidates for whom the Ph.D. I major research paper has been waived must still satisfy the requirements in three courses. Candidates for whom the Ph.D. I major research paper requirement has been waived may be required to enrol in a 5000-level research seminar. All requirements of the Ph.D. I year must be satisfied before registration in the Ph.D. II year.
  3. Candidates for the doctorate must select three fields of study. Two fields, the major and the minor, must be from among the fields offered by the program. The third field may be in History or in another graduate program which is approved by the Director.
  4. Within each field the candidate will determine, in consultation with the field supervisor and the Director, an area of specialization, which may be a shorter period or a genre within all or part of the period covered by the field. The precise definition of the fields and the areas of specialization will be determined and approved by the Director at least six months before the Qualifying Examination.
  5. It is expected that the major and minor fields will be examined in the fall of the Ph.D. II year and no later than the spring of Ph.D. II in a written and oral Qualifying Examination.
  6. In addition to the major and minor field examinations, each student will select a period or theme for specialized study which will normally be the broad area or period within which the dissertation will be written. The written examination for the area of specialization normally consists of an outline for an advanced full-year undergraduate lecture course. The outline will include a course description (with rationale for the course), weekly topics and readings (with rationales), a grade breakdown, and full written text of one lecture in approximately 20-25 double-spaced pages.In place of the course outline, students may provide an alternative form of historical presentation such as, for example, a historical website, museum exhibit catalogue, policy brief, podcast, or short documentary film. Besides the project itself, the Ph.D. candidate will be expected to provide a written explanation of 10-15 double-spaced pages. At least three months prior to the written field examination, students will submit a two-page proposal for the alternative project, and secure the permission of the Graduate Program Director and two other examiners who would normally be involved in supervising the student’s dissertation. If the project is approved, the student will work in consultation with their faculty advisor to develop the project. It is understood that the student will develop a project that is separate and distinct from previous or other ongoing work. Students will demonstrate a strong command of the relevant sources, scholarly literature, and methodologies in the field and an ability to organize and present the material in a coherent and engaging fashion. Examiners will be particularly interested in the scope and clarity of the exposition and the student's awareness of the potential audience. It is expected that the time spent in preparation of the alternative project will be commensurate to the time other students spend developing the course proposal.
  7. The third field must be a coherent and definable field of study. The requirements may be satisfied, without proceeding to the comprehensive examinations, by completing a full-year course at the doctoral level in History or another graduate program with no less than a B+ standing and completing such supplementary reading as is necessary to assure the course director that the examination would be passed if taken. Directed readings courses within the program may be offered in satisfaction of the requirement, but in such cases the courses must include substantial written work. In all cases a bibliography of the work read and the papers written must be deposited with the program Director with a letter from the faculty member in charge that the petition for an exemption from the comprehensive examinations be granted. The determination of the waiver will be made by the Director in consultation with the appropriate faculty members.
  8. If the third field is in History it may be selected from among the fields offered by the program. It may be an area or genre field not included among the stated fields, and not seen as overlapping with the other fields. It may also be a cognate field similar to those offered in other programs, but examinable within the Graduate program in History.
  9. Within three months of satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination, the candidate will submit a dissertation proposal. Normally, it is expected that the candidate will complete and defend the dissertation within three years from the date of the Qualifying Examination. After the formal submission of the dissertation, an oral examination, centred on the dissertation and matters related to it, is held.

Language and Cognate Requirements

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree are asked to demonstrate an ability to read such foreign languages as are necessary to enable them to use the major secondary and primary sources in the field in which they are writing their dissertation. For Canadianists, a reading knowledge of French is required. Candidates in all fields may be asked to take a brief oral examination to indicate proficiency. (Putative dissertation supervisors, with the assistance of their colleagues as required, will be asked to indicate that the candidate has the required language skills.) When appropriate, other skills (e.g., statistics, computer science, survey research) are required as an alternative, or in addition, to language requirements.