Degree-by-Thesis Option

The Degree-by-Thesis option addresses the needs of two types of students. First, it offers students who are taking the M.A. as a terminal degree the opportunity to master historical scholarship and historiography, while also pursuing an intensive, original research project. Second, the thesis option can help students assess their aptitude for research and writing at the doctoral level.

Students who opt for the Degree-by-Thesis 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 three (3) must be in 800-level research seminars. The students take an additional six (6) hours of HIST 799 (Master's Thesis Research).

In consultation with the advisor, the student develops an original research project that will require substantive analysis of primary materials, in addition to full engagement with the existing relevant scholarship. Archival and bibliographic research may last several months and be conducted in the College Park region or farther away. Writing may take an additional several months.  Typically the M.A. thesis is 60-80 pages long. 

All thesis research, including oral history research, must be conducted in accordance with University rules as well as professional and legal standards. In some instances, M.A. students might be required to submit a précis of the thesis or other materials to the Institutional Review Board of the University of Maryland or another institution. In Spring 2006, the campus IRB issued a finding that oral history does not enjoy a blanket exclusion from IRB review. It is, therefore, essential that all research projects involving oral history and other forms of research that fall under human subjects research protocols be cleared by the IRB.

In an open oral defense of the thesis, normally lasting not longer than two hours, the student must attain approval by a majority of a Thesis Examining Committee consisting of at least three members of the Graduate Faculty, chosen by the Director of Grduate Studies in consultation with the student's advisor. The advisor chairs the committee. At the conclusion of the oral defense, the committee will determine whether the thesis is satisfactory as submitted or if revisions must be undertaken before the thesis will be officially accepted. If the student has expressed the desire to continue on to the doctoral program at Maryland, the thesis committee will also make a recommendation to the Graduate Committee about the student's admission to the Ph.D. program.

There is no minor field requirement or comprehensive examination for students who select the Degree-by-Thesis option.