Master of Arts in History

The History MA Program at the University of San Diego offers a 30-unit program to qualified students who wish to study public history or academic history. The MA program also provides students with the opportunity to intern at one of the many museums and historical societies in San Diego, including, but not confined to, the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center, the Helix Water District, the San Diego Museum of Man, the Cabrillo National Monument, the San Diego Hall of Champions, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, the San Diego Historical Society — with its related Serra Museum — the Villa Montezuma and the Marston House. Students also may choose to work for preservation organizations or in the offices of local architects.

The individuals who complete the MA program have found work as newspaper editors, community college professors, high school and grammar school teachers, documentarians, museum curators, librarians, public policy analysts and historic preservationists. Others have gone on to PhD programs in history, political science, or international relations. In short, by working with talented professors who possess a broad range of learning and experience, graduates from the MA program will sharpen their knowledge of history and acquire the skills necessary to pursue any number of careers.

Program Description

The Master of Arts Program in History offers a 30-unit curriculum in which one class equals three units. Twenty-four units involve course work. The remaining six units concern the thesis. The thesis is the final project and, once approved, will be submitted at the end of the student’s course of study. The thesis, which should be between 80 to 100 pages in length, will be a testament to the student’s ability to interpret primary sources and employ independent thought. The student selects the thesis topic in conjunction with his or her advisor. Full-time students typically need two years to complete the program. Part-time study is also welcomed and can be accommodated by a schedule that offers most graduate classes in the evening.

Before registering, students are required to schedule an advising appointment with the graduate program director in history. In consultation with the director, students will work out a program of study.

Additional Requirements for Admission

Master of Arts in History

See here for basic admission requirements.

Entrance SemestersFall, Spring
Application DeadlinesRolling admissions policy. To be considered for financial aid and/or scholarships, applications must be received by March 1 for fall, or October 1 for spring.
Minimum GPA3.2 (4.0 Scale)
Standardized TestsGraduate Record Examination (GRE), and in some instances, other tests like the GMAT or LSAT. For the GRE, it is preferred that the applicant score at least 500 in the verbal section; 500 in the quantitative section; and 4.5 on the analytical section.
Required DegreeBachelor of Arts from any accredited university or college.
Required Licenses or CredentialsNone
Additional RequirementsNone

Requirements for the Degree

Thirty units of coursework to be approved by the faculty advisor include the following classes:

HIST 500Core Seminar in History3
EDUC 502History Teaching Seminar3
HIST 502Public History Seminar3
HIST 598Internship 13
HIST 595Thesis0.5-6

 A student can only register for HIST 598 once. The internship class cannot be repeated.

A student must take at least six units of HIST 595 (Thesis). The HIST 595 requirement can be satisfied in two ways: The student can take HIST 595 as a three-unit seminar AND as a directed study three-unit class by working under the supervision of the thesis advisor. The seminar will teach students how to research, organize, and write a thesis. (The seminar and directed course of study can be taken in different semesters.) Or, the student can register for HIST 595 as a directed study class and work under the supervision of the thesis advisor until the 6-unit requirement is met and the thesis is completed. Students are strongly encouraged to take the HIST 595 seminar so they can benefit from the classroom experience. Once a student has finished all coursework, he or she must continue to register for one-half (0.5) unit of thesis each semester (excluding summer and intersession) until the thesis is completed and accepted. Even if the student has taken six units of HIST 595 and finished all other coursework, he or she still must still register for thesis units to remain in good standing and avoid the risk of being disqualified by the university registrar. A pamphlet entitled "Instructions for the Preparation and Submission of the Master’s Thesis" is available for sale in the university bookstore.

With some exceptions to be noted below, and in addition to the classes described in the preceding paragraph, the remaining 12 units of coursework must come from history classes numbered in the 500s. Of these twelve units, up to six units of electives can be taken from the graduate programs in international relations, art history, theology and religious studies, education, business administration, peace and justice, and law. Under certain circumstances, and with special graduate level adjustments, the elective classes may be taken at the undergraduate, upper-division level.

Only one course with a grade of “C+”, “C”, or “C-” may count towards the degree.

No courses with a grade of “D” or “F” will count toward the degree although the grade will be calculated in the GPA.

Recommended Program of Study

First Year
Semester IHours
HIST 500Core Seminar in History3
HIST 502Public History Seminar3
Semester II
EDUC 502History Teaching Seminar3
HIST 595(Seminar)Thesis3
Second Year
Semester I
HIST 598Internship3
Semester II
HIST 595Thesis0.5-6

Undergraduate Courses

Under certain circumstances and with special graduate level adjustments, a maximum of six elective units may be taken at the undergraduate, upper-division level. Each class is worth three units.

HIST 310Ancient Near East3
HIST 311Greek Civilization3
HIST 312Roman Civilization3
HIST 321The Fall of the Roman Empire3
HIST 322Castles and Crusades: Medieval Europe, 1050-14503-4
HIST 323Medieval Woman3
HIST 331The Global Renaissance3
HIST 333Europe 1600-18003
HIST 334
HIST 340World War I3
HIST 341World War II3
HIST 345
HIST 346Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Europe3
HIST 347Topics in Modern Europe3-4
HIST 348France in Revolution and War3
HIST 350History of the British Isles3
HIST 351Modern Britain3
HIST 352The British Imperial Experience3
HIST 353
HIST 354History of Spain3
HIST 355Imperial Russia3
HIST 356Soviet Union and After3
HIST 357Topics in Russian and East European History3
HIST 358Topics in Modern World History3-4
HIST 359Modern Middle East3
HIST 360
HIST 361Modern Latin America3
HIST 362Topics in Latin America History3
HIST 363History of Brazil3
HIST 364Topics in Asian History3-4
HIST 365China: Rise to Global Power3
HIST 366Japan: Samurai to Subaru3
HIST 367Women's Lives in East Asia3
HIST 368The African Historical Experience3
HIST 369Topics in African History3
HIST 370American Environmental History3
HIST 371Topics in Early American History3
HIST 373Armed Conflict and American Society3
HIST 373Armed Conflict and American Society3
HIST 374Civil War and Reconstruction3
HIST 375Topics in Modern American History3
HIST 376U.S. Foreign Relations in the Long 19th Century3
HIST 377Twentieth Century U.S. Foreign Relations3
HIST 378Topics in United States Intellectual and Social History3
HIST 379
HIST 380History of the American West3
HIST 381American Indian History3
HIST 382The Spanish Southwest3
HIST 383Chicano/a History3
HIST 384History of Mexico3
HIST 386
HIST 387
HIST 389History of California3
HIST 390Art and Architecture in California3

HIST 500 and HIST 502 are only offered in the fall semester. EDUC 502, which is offered by the School of Leadership and Educational Sciences (SOLES), is only offered during the spring semester. All other classes are offered on a rotating basis. In some instances, graduate offerings will be cross-listed with an upper-division, undergraduate class. Graduate students and undergraduates will sit together in the same class. Graduate students, however, will be given extra assignments and will be expected to perform at a higher level.


Units: 3

Required for all MA candidates in history. The class will examine different historical methodologies and introduce students to the rigors of graduate school.


Units: 3

This course, offered by the School of Education, or SOLES, will discuss teaching methods, evaluate course content, instruct students in the use audio-visual materials and make use of oral presentations to simulate classroom lectures. Essential for those preparing to become teachers or continuing the pursuit of graduate degrees in history.


Units: 3

Examines aspects of public history that include a variety of spheres such as the application and definition of public history; theory and management of historical collections; registration and cataloguing of historical collections; philosophy and techniques of exhibiting historical artifacts; historical editing — books and scholarly journals; media or documentary productions; writing corporate histories; historical research in general and maintaining a website. Field trips to various local museums are included.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

This seminar focuses on ancient Greek or Roman history, with an emphasis on power and politics, gender, art and architecture and/or economic and social change. Special topics may offer the chance to study the Trojan War, ancient Athens, Greek religion and culture, ancient Rome and the Mediterranean, the army, barbarians, Julius Caesar, Romanization and/or the rise of Christianity. Extensive use will be made of contemporary sources to obtain first-hand insights into the values and concerns of ancient men and women. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

This seminar focuses on Medieval European history, with an emphasis on power and politics, gender, art and architecture and/or economic and social change. Extensive use will be made of contemporary sources to obtain first-hand insights into the values and concerns of medieval men and women. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3

This seminar focuses on Europe, 1450-1700, with an emphasis on power and politics, gender, art and architecture and/or economic and social change. Special topics may offer the chance to study the politics of the Italian city states; the writings of leading humanists, poets, philosophers and political theorists; Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture; and/or political events such as the English civil war. The class also may focus on groundbreaking research in the histories of women, sexuality, popular culture, peasant life and magic. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3

This seminar will examine the wars fought in and around Vietnam since the 1940s, with particular attention focused on the period of direct American involvement. These events will be considered in relation to Vietnam’s history, American politics and society and to the nature of war itself. Finally, we will consider the legacy of the war and its meaning in American and Vietnamese memory today.


Units: 3

This seminar focuses on various topics in the history of the Modern Middle East. Topics may include the growth and decline of the Ottoman Empire; Arab and Jewish nationalisms; the paths to independence; or the Iranian revolution. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

This seminar focuses on various topics in the history of Latin America, such as the role of religion and the Catholic Church; 20th-century revolutions and social upheaval; and the history of particular groups, including Amerindians, women and rural and urban workers. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

An in-depth look at special themes and issues in the history of Asia, including such topics as Women in East Asia, Imperialism in Asia and Asia’s relations with the United States. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

A critical study of issues confronting Africans in the 20th century. Alternating courses may include Problems in Africa since Independence and the South African Dilemma. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3

This class will introduce students to the field of U.S. environmental history. On the one hand, we will examine how nature (soil, natural disasters, disease, water, climate, etc.) influenced the course of American history. On the other, we will address the ways Americans have used technology to transform the non-human world, the implications these transformations have had on power relations within American societies and the cultural meanings that Americans have given to nature.


Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

Topics may include the Progressive Era, World War I, Great Depression, New Deal, World War II, United States-Latin American Relations, or other topics in the political, economic, social and cultural history of the United States from 1865 to the present. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3

In this seminar we will explore the politics of American public commemoration. We will look at how dominant institutions (the National Park Service, history museums and tourist venues) have remembered (and forgotten) the American past. We will also explore vernacular historical expressions and the ways in which minority groups have fought to shape American public memory. The class will use San Diego as a laboratory.


Units: 1-6 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

This class surveys the history of the American West. Topics include: pre-Columbian Indians, the competition between European empires over the American West; American expansion and conquest; the fur, mining, ranching and farming “frontiers”; the railroad and populism; WWII and the growth of the urban west; the historical experience of workers, women and Mexican-, Asian-, Native- and African Americans; environmental issues such as conservation, preservation, the dust bowl and water politics; and representations of the West in popular culture. Students may repeat the seminar for credit when the topic changes.


Units: 3

This class explores the history of the Mexican and Mexican origin people in the United States. The class begins with the European settlement of the Americas and ends with the immigration of Mexicans to the United States in the 20th and 21st century.


Units: 3

Covers California’s past from its earliest settlements to modern times. The course begins with California’s geographical setting, aboriginal culture and contact with the European world. A survey of Spanish backgrounds includes missions and missionaries, ranchos, pueblos and foreign visitors. Changes under the government of Mexico led to California’s conquest by the United States. During the second half, the class will address the Gold Rush; problems of statehood; constitutional developments; land, labor and Indian policies; transportation and immigration; agriculture and industry; California during wartime; water projects; political issues; cultural accomplishments; racial diversity; and recent trends. Meets the requirements of California history standards for various teaching credentials.


Units: 0.5-6 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

May be taken as a three-unit class. In other instances, History 595 may be repeated when student is writing and researching the thesis. When not taken as a seminar, History 595 will receive an incomplete. The grade for History 595 will not be recorded until the thesis is completed and submitted.


Units: 3

See Department Advisors responsible for assignments of internships.


Units: 1-3

Consult program director for guidelines.



Michael J. Gonzalez, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, GRADUATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Thomas Barton, Phd, Yale University, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Iris H.W. Engstrand, PhD, University of Southern California, PROFESSOR

R. Colin Fisher, PhD, University of California, Irvine, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

James O. Gump, PhD, University of Nebraska, PROFESSOR

Molly McClain, PhD, Yale University, PROFESSOR

Clara Oberle, PhD, Princeton University, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Kenneth P. Serbin, PhD, University of California, San Diego, PROFESSOR and CHAIR

Kathryn Statler, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, PROFESSOR

Yi Sun, PhD, Washington State University, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR