MA Program Guidelines

University at Buffalo (SUNY), Department of History
Master’s Program Guidelines
Dr. Sasha D. Pack, Director of Graduate Studies 


Students need a minimum of 30 credits (10 courses) to graduate. Full-time students generally take three seminars (500- or 600- level courses) per semester, for a total of 9 credits. In order to reach the SUNY requirement of 12 credits for full-time status, students may add HIS 599 (see below). In lieu of HIS 599, you might take a language course, for example, but be aware that the History Department considers 3 graduate seminars to be a full load.

These seminars are required in order to complete the Master’s degree:

  • HIS 501: Historical Inquiry 
  • Two semesters of core seminars 
  • One research (600- level) seminar 
  • Four additional 500- level seminars (including core seminars) of the student’s choosing

Core seminars by area
HIS 502-503 American Core: I and II
HIS 504-505 European Core: Early Modern and Modern
HIS 506 North and South Atlantic Core
HIS 507 Asian Core HIS
559-560 Latin America and the Caribbean 

HIS 599 is not required and does not count toward your degree. You can enroll in HIS 599 for 3 credits, enabling you to reach full-time (12-credit) status with the normal load of three 3-credit seminars. To receive credit, students must attend 4 events related to the intellectual life of the university or, in certain cases, of the community. These are generally scholarly lectures or conferences. Alternatively, enrolling in or attending all six meetings of HIS 701 (Proseminar on Teaching) also fulfills the requirements for HIS 599. Students should submit their events to Professor Cari Casteel. 

Distribution requirement

All MA students must fulfill a distribution requirement by taking at least one course in each of three major areas: US and Canada; Europe; Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the case of a transnational, thematic, or world history course, students should consult with the DGS about whether it can fulfill the requirement for a particular area and, if so, ask to have a statement to that effect put in their file. 

The Masters Project requirement

In addition to seminar coursework, students must also complete a Master’s Project. The project is an article-length paper of roughly 30-60 pages, based on primary research, placed within a 2 historiographical framework, and executed under the guidance of a faculty member. If based on a previous seminar paper, it must be significantly reworked and/or expanded.

The typical course sequence for a full-time MA student

The following is a typical course of study (N.B.: if you begin in the Spring rather than the Fall there will be some alterations to this sequence; please contact the Program Director briefly as you enroll each semester to make sure all requirements are met):

Semester I
HIS 500 or 501 Core seminar
Elective seminar (500- level) HIS 599

Semester II
Core seminar
Elective seminar (500- level)
Research seminar (600- level) HIS 599
Select an adviser for your MA project and work out a plan for background reading over the summer.

Semester III
2 Elective seminars (500-level)
HIS 598 (Thesis)
HIS 599 Semester IV
HIS 598 (Thesis)*

*Students who have fulfilled all other requirements, other than their thesis, and have amassed 30 credits, are considered to have full time status as long as they enroll in HIS 598 (“Thesis Guidance”) for at least one credit for each semester they continue. Be sure, however, to submit the paperwork requesting full-time status so that you do not incur a penalty.

Revised 8/25/20 (SDP)