2023-24 Graduate Catalog 
    Jul 18, 2024  
2023-24 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

History [HIS] M.A.

History Department
Kevin Sheets, chair
Laura Gathagan, graduate coordinator
Old Main, Room 212
Fax: 607-753-5598


The online MA History program is for anyone who translates history to a wider audience, social studies teachers seeking a master's degree, or anyone who is fascinated with the why of everyday events and the human motives behind them. Relevant class topics include a required course devoted to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), which dives deep into how people learn history. This crucial focus also serves those who work in educational roles in museums, archives or other settings.

The 31-credit program is offered fully online with synchronous meetings at convenient times.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  1. Explain the source's perspective on the topic it addresses.
  2. Closely read a primary source.
  3. Find and select appropriate primary sources that will contextualize a historical problem.
  4. Find and select appropriate secondary sources that will contextualize a historical problem.

Program Highlights

History Department faculty members are passionate about what they do: exploring new ideas, leading discussions and building professional relationships with students. You will expand your historical reading and writing skills and benefit from the guidance of these dedicated mentors while conducting research that personally interests you.

Research topics may range from African Americans in the Civil War to global history subjects, such as Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Medieval Europe, Latin American revolutionary movements or issues in modern Asia.

Culminating Experience

You also will write a comprehensive written examination based on coursework and mastery of the content and historical literature in your program of study. For those intending to pursue a Ph.D. at another institution, the option of writing a master's thesis is available.

Career Potential

For more than 150 years, SUNY Cortland has set the bar in history education. Our M.A. in history prepares graduates for a career in a wide range of fields, including educational roles in museums, archives and libraries, publishing, and other settings. These might include business, journalism, law or government service work. Our SOTL focus provides valuable training for translating the past to a general audience in a variety of contexts, including national parks, museums, social studies classrooms, curriculum development, textbook writing, and virtual learning platforms. A terminal master's degree is a solid foundation for a Ph.D.

Graduate Admissions

Evaluation Policy

At the State University of New York at Cortland, we seek a diverse and academically strong student body. Our admission policy and practice will not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin or marital status.

Required Materials

  1. Completed online Graduate School Application — Apply Now
  2. Official transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended to be forwarded directly to SUNY Cortland Graduate Admissions Office
    Note: candidates for admission must present evidence of bachelor's degree conferral prior to the start of their academic program.
  3. A resume, submitted online with the application
  4. A statement of educational and professional goals, submitted online with the application
  5. Two confidential letters of recommendation with at least one from a history professor

Admissions Criteria

Preference will be given to applicants who have:

  1. 24 credit hours in approved undergraduate history courses
  2. An overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 and above on a 4.0 scale
  3. An overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 and above in history courses

Exceptional applicants who do not meet all of the above requirements will be considered on an individual basis. 

Qualified applicants without intermediate competency in foreign language, usually through the 201 level or the third semester of foreign language study may be required to meet that competency concurrently with graduate study. 


Fall semester applications: July 1
Spring semester applications: Dec. 1
Summer semester applications: April 1

Applications submitted after the deadline may be considered on a space availability basis.
Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 607-753-4800 to check availability.

Program Requirements

The Masters Degree in History requires 31 credits including at least two research seminars (3 credits each) and HIS 647: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning History (3 credits). Finally, all students are required to complete HIS 687: a 1-credit Culminating Experience.

The remaining 21 credits will include History courses at the 500 and 600 level.

Six of these credit hours may be obtained in a related field outside the History department at the 500 or 600 level, subject to advisor approval. 

As stated above, successful completion of the degree requires HIS 687: A one-credit Culminating Experience. You must either write a master's thesis or take a written comprehensive exam based on course work and mastery of history content and historical literature.

Other requirements for the award of the degree may be determined by the History Department and must be ascertained by you in consultation with the department graduate advisor.

Course Requirements

B. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning History: 3 credit hours

C. Approved Electives in History or Related Field: 6 credit hours

Select six credit hours in HIS or (optionally) other advisor-approved courses at the 500 and 600 level outside the History Department.

D. Research Seminar: 6 credit hours

Select at least two research seminars from the following.  A third seminar may be counted under History Readings requirements (Section A above).

E. Approved electives in history or related field: 6 credit hours

Select six credit hours in HIS or other advisor-approved courses at the 500 and 600 level. Students in the Scholarship on the Teaching and Learning of History concentration must select six credit hours in HIS.

F. Culminating Activity: 1 credit hour

Total Credit Hours Required: 31