Department of History

For Current Students

Resources

Comprehensive exams

The Comprehensive Examination should be taken at the end of the third semester of the program. It is generally scheduled on that semester's Reading Day (the day following the last day of classes). The exam is four hours long and consists of two questions with two hours devoted to each question. The examinations are graded by three-member faculty committees in the appropriate concentration who award pass or fail grades to each of the two essays. The student must receive passing grades from at least two of the three graders and must pass BOTH questions they answer. The examinations are structured as follows:

  • U.S. concentration: Each student is presented with three questions and must answer two of them.
  • European concentration: Each student selects the early or modern European period. He or she is presented with three questions and must answer two of them.
  • Global concentration: Each student is presented with two questions in general Global History and must answer one of them. Then he or she is presented with two questions in his or her geographical area of specialization and must answer one of them.
  • Public History concentration: Each student is presented with two questions on the general theme of Public History and must answer one of them. Each student must choose either the first or second half of U.S., European, or Global History. He or she is presented with two questions in that concentration and must answer one of them.

M.A. Comprehensive Examination Reading Lists (Revised Spring 2015)

NOTE: Students should not feel constrained by these lists and are strongly encouraged to bring to the examination ideas and information gained from all of their course readings in the History M.A. program.

Foreign Language Translation Examination

The foreign language examination is offered in September and January of each academic year. It is an exercise in which a student is given a 300-word passage in his or her preferred language to translate within 90 minutes. Students may use a dictionary (either paper or an approved online type) to assist them. The examinations are graded by members of the history faculty. Students may take the examination as many times as necessary to earn a passing grade.

Useful Forms