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Graduate Program in History

MA in History

The master's program aims to provide students with the opportunity to expand their undergraduate knowledge and to sharpen their critical, research and writing skills. This is done through intensive readings required for seminars, class discussions and research and historiographical papers. A range of seminars are offered every year covering most of the geographic and thematic areas of strength of the York program.

The York MA is designed as a one year program. Students in the Master's program are usually required to complete three full graduate courses between September and April and a Major Research Paper of approximately 50 to 75 pages between April and August.

Admission Requirements

Graduates with a four-year honours first degree from a recognized Canadian university or an Honours degree from another recognized university, and with at least a B+ average in the last two years of study are considered for admission as candidates for the M.A. degree.

Applicants without a History background should consult with the Graduate program in History.

Qualifying Year

Students lacking the necessary undergraduate preparation may qualify for admission as undergraduate Special Students in the Departments of History respectively of the Faculty of Arts, of Glendon College, or of Atkinson College at York University. Equivalent work at other universities is also considered if it appropriately supplements the background of the prospective applicant.

During the qualifying year, students are required to take courses to raise their qualifications to the minimum level required for admission as candidates. These courses are normally selected from undergraduate courses, on the advice of the program Director. The selection is made in the light of the student's interests and previous background. For such courses, students should consult the relevant undergraduate calendars. High grades in courses taken during a qualifying year are given full weight as a measure of undergraduate study when the student applies for admission as an M.A. degree candidate, but such grades do not ensure admission, since all decisions on admission are made on a competitive basis.

Degree Requirements

Studies for the Master's degree normally require one year to complete and are pursued either by thesis or by coursework. 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:

  1. 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.)

  2. 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.


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 15. 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.