Degree-by-Examination

Degree-by-Examination Option

The Degree-by-Examination (a.k.a. "non-thesis") option likewise addresses the needs of two types of students. For students seeking a terminal-degree MA, the option offers a flexible mixture of course work and research seminars, affording the opportunity both to attain a broad general understanding of historical scholarship and to pursue original research. For students who wish to pursue the Ph.D. degree at Maryland or elsewhere, the option prepares students for various aspects of a doctoral program, including reading courses and seminars in a major field, comprehensive examinations, and advanced research and writing.

Students who opt for the Degree-By-Examination must complete at least twelve (12) credit hours in one of the approved major fields (see Fields of Study). Three to nine (3-9) of these credit hours must be in the appropriate General Seminar(s) and an additional six (6) must be in 800-level research seminars.

Students who opt for the Degree-By-Examination must pass a four-hour, written examination based on the student's course work and/or a set of readings devised by the student in consultation with the advisor. Typically the reading list for the M.A. comprehensive exam is about 50 books.  It is the expectation that M.A. non-thesis students take the examination in the fourth semester of full-time study.

At or about the time that the student registers for graduation, the Degree-by-Examination student will present two (2) 800-level research papers to the M.A. examining committee for its approval. The examining committee will review the papers, the M.A. examination, and the student's entire record in the M.A. program to make a final determination for degree conferral. If the student has expressed the desire to continue on to the doctoral program at Maryland, the committee will also make a recommendation to the Graduate Committee about the student's admission to the Ph.D. program.

Guidelines for Master of Arts Degree Examinations

All written examinations are administered twice a year, in October and April.

The examination committee consists of three members of the Graduate Faculty, typically all members of the History faculty. The student's advisor chairs the examination committee. The Director of Graduate Studies designates the other committee members, in consultation with the advisor and the student. Each committee member may contribute questions for the examination.

The examination will be graded pass or fail.

Students should consult their advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies for additional guidelines on the expectations for and the grading of examinations.

The two possible options are pass and fail. Students who do not pass on the first attempt may retake the examination without prior approval. After a second failure, the student must petition for re-examination.

Petition for Re-Examination

In the case of failure of a written examination (Degree-by-Examination option only) or a language examination, the student may petition the Graduate Committee to take the examination a second time. If the petition is approved, the student must retake the examination when it is next offered.