MA History


Program Description

Students pursuing an M.A. at the History Department work closely with GW's internationally recognized faculty in a broad range of specialties, including modern America, early modern Europe, and imperial and colonial studies.

The M.A. program not only prepares students for Ph.D. work but also for a broad range of careers, from teaching high school students to government work to historical research in the private sector. Washington, D.C. has some of the best resources for historical research in the world, including the National Archives, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress. Our M.A. graduates have gone on to have successful and prolific careers.

Department of History - Columbian College of Arts & Sciences from GW Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Which courses should I enroll in during my first years in the program?

  • If it is your first semester at GW, you should enroll in HIST 6005.
  • You must take two research seminars. If you are a full-time student you should plan to take one in your first year and one in your second year. A research seminar is a history graduate course for which you write a research paper. If it is not clear from the course title, ask the instructor whether it is a research seminar. Students choosing to write an M.A. thesis may count this as their second research seminar.
  • Students concentrating in Imperial and Colonial Studies should take the required HIST 6128 and 6050 the first semester they are offered since they are taught only in alternate years.
  • Discuss the courses you plan to take each semester with your advisor.
  • Give priority to 6000-level reading and research courses taught by faculty members specializing in areas close to your own concentration.
  • Pending approval of the instructor, you may earn graduate credit for undergraduate courses at the 3000-level by completing additional work. Typically, this entails extra reading and more sophisticated paper assignments.
  • You may enroll in courses in departments other than history as long as they are related to your program of study at GW.
  • You may enroll in four courses (12 credit hours) at a consortium of ten universities in the DC area. Click here to register for these courses. The following stipulations apply:
    • Any hours of transfer credit for graduate courses taken elsewhere before arriving at GW will be deducted for the number of consortium course hours you are permitted to take.
    • You may not enroll in a consortium course if it duplicates a GW course offered in the same semester.

How many courses should I enroll in?

  • If you are a full-time student you should take three courses (nine credit hours) each semester until you have completed at least 36 credit hours. This adds up to two years of full-time coursework.
  • If you work more than 20 hours a week you may not take more than two courses (six credit hours) each semester.
  • Students registered for fewer than 6 hours in a given semester, however, are considered “less than half-time” and may encounter problems with student loans and, if a citizen of another country, their student visas.
  • If you are taking a light course load because you are almost done with coursework or because you are researching or writing a thesis, you can apply to be certified as half or full time even though your registration falls short of that definition.
Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

At GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning.

At GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning. Read less