Examination Option

This option entails research and writing roughly equivalent in amount to that carried out by students in the Thesis/Project Option, culminating in comprehensive written and oral final examinations in three related areas, one in the major field and two in minor fields.

In preparation for the examinations, in Semester II the student and the advisor constitute a faculty committee to supervise the work, and the student submits a prospectus to the committee and, with their approval, to the DGS for approval by the graduate studies committee.  The prospectus should include a description of the student's one major field and two minor fields, a plan of historiographical study, a statement of goals, historiographical justifications for the work, and a series of questions to be addressed in the major and minor fields.  It must also include a tentative reading list in the form of a bibliography (including discussion of the sources available), and be accompanied by the MA Program/Committee Form completed with signatures.  Excluding the bibliography and title page, the examination prospectus should be at least 5 page in length, but this is ultimately a matter to be determined by the students and committee in consultation.  Students are encouraged to examine copies of recent prospectuses on file in the department office.

Six semester hours of course credit in HST 730 are required to prepare for the examinations, with written and oral examinations in the major field and the two minor fields administered upon completion.  The department strongly encourages students and their advisors to plan students' schedules so as to allow them to take all six examination hours in Semester IV, or their final semester of full-time enrollment.

In the written examinations, students will write and submit historiographical essays answering questions posed by the committee members in the major field and each of the minor fields.  The essays will typically consist of a total of at least 50 double-spaced pages, and should follow The Chicago Manual of Style.  The committee chair will decide and inform the student by the beginning of the semester in which the exams will be taken whether the written exams will be proctored, take-home, or a combination of both types.  Together these essays will serve as the basis for the oral examination.

The oral examination consists of a one-hour (minimum) oral presentation and discussion of the written essays before the members of the student's committee.  The date set for the defense must take into account the student's desired date of graduation.  Unlike the Thesis/Project Option, there are no Graduate School submission deadlines applicable to the Examination Option.  Written components of the examinations have no formatting constraints besides those imposed by the committee and department, and they are not submitted to the Graduate School.


  • Students in both the Thesis/Project and Examination options are required to produce a prospectus of the final product in HST 602 during Semester II.
  • Students pursuing the Examination Option must take HST 730 in the final regular semester before the intended examination date.
  • Oral examination (defense) is required for both the thesis/project and examinations.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style is the preferred departmental style for all work submitted by students.