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Accelerated M.A.

Accelerated Master of Arts

The Accelerated M.A. program in History enables qualified KU students to earn both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master's degree in history in five years. Students apply to join the accelerated program by January 1 of their Junior year, and spend the following two years completing a mix of undergraduate and graduate coursework.

The program has two tracks, one leading to an M.A. in U.S. History and one leading to an M.A. in World History. The M.A. may be pursued as a terminal degree or as preparation to pursue doctoral studies at KU or elsewhere.

Careful course selection and steady progression through the undergraduate career is necessary to ensure all requirements for both degrees be completed within the five-year timeframe.  All prospective students should discuss their interest in admission to the accelerated program with both the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies as early as possible but no later than Fall of the student’s Junior year.

  • Admission to the Accelerated M.A. program is open to current KU undergraduate students only. If you are a non-KU student interested in graduate study, consult information about our M.A. and Ph.D. programs, respectively.


As the intermediate degree in the field of History, the Master of Arts provides students with numerous opportunities to pursue further study in History, Law, and other fields, as well as a variety of non-academic professional outcomes.

Students in our M.A. program have continued to Ph.D. programs at Princeton, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge, among other storied institutions. Others have used the skills and knowledge obtained during their M.A. study to further their careers as secondary educators, taking on leadership and curricular development roles throughout the region. Students from our M.A. program have also excelled as archivists, museum curators and development officers, and as staffers at a wide range of governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations.

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Admission and Requirements

Prospective students are eligible to apply to the graduate program in their Junior year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis but should be submitted before the end of the applicant’s junior year.  Applications must be received at least 4 weeks prior to start of the student’s second to last undergraduate semester.

The following requirements must be met by this time:

  • Major GPA of at least 3.5 and cumulative GPA of at least 3.00;
  • On track to complete all requirements for a B.A. degree in History from KU with one additional year of study beyond the junior year.

Applicants must complete an Application for Graduate Study online.  The following information should be gathered in advance and uploaded with the application:

  • Two letters of recommendation (preferably from professors in the major). You will be asked to enter the names and e-mail addresses for two recommenders while completing the online application. Your recommenders will automatically receive an e-mail requesting their letters when you submit the application. It is not necessary for your recommenders to send hard copies of their letters to the department if they submit their letters electronically. Should a recommender feel uncomfortable with the online submission process, please contact the department for more options.
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • A one-page statement of educational and career objectives
  • A writing sample, preferably from an history course, 5-10 pages of text not including the bibliography, endnotes, or images following endnotes.

Upon review of the Application for Admission, the History Department will notify the student of his or her eligibility to begin coursework in the program the following Fall semester.  Final acceptance to the graduate program will be contingent upon the following:

  • Successful completion of all requirements for the Bachelor’s degree;
  • Grades of B+ or above in all History graduate-level coursework taken in the final year of undergraduate study.
  • Submission of a Program of Study

Program of Study

  • After acceptance to the program, M.A. students will submit an M.A. Program of Study Worksheet. Students are expected to identify three fields of study (geographical, thematic, and chronological) in consultation with their primary advisor. These fields must be approved by the primary advisor and Director of Graduate Study by April 15. The Program of Study Worksheet also designates a Primary Advisor and two other faculty advisors as the official members of the student’s M.A. Committee.

The course requirements for this accelerated program are fulfilled by a combination of graduate-level courses taken for both undergraduate and graduate credit in Year 4, and graduate credit courses taken in Year 5. Numerous graduate-level courses are regularly offered that fulfill distribution requirements for both the Bachelor’s and M.A. degrees. 

Requirements for the B.A. Major 

History Major Core Knowledge and Skills (3 credits) 

  • HIST 301 The Historian's Craft
  • HIST 302 The Historian's Craft, Honors 

History Required Electives (30 credits) 

Majors must complete 10 courses (30 hours) of electives. 4 courses (12 hours) must be in Category I (satisfied by courses in Ancient, Medieval, Modern Western Europe, Russia/Eastern Europe, United States) and 4 courses (12 hours) must be in Category II (satisfied by courses in Africa and Middle East, East Asia, Latin America, Native America). At least 9 of these 30 credit hours must be completed at the 500 level or above and will also count toward the master’s degree. No more than three courses (9 hours) may be taken in courses numbering 100-299. The student must be approved to begin coursework toward the master’s degree prior to enrolling in any 500 level or above courses that are to count for both undergraduate and graduate credit. 

History Capstone Seminar (3 credits) 

Satisfied by one of the following:

  • HIST 696 Seminar in: _____ or
  • HIST 690 Honors Course in History 
  • HIST 691 Undergraduate History Honors Seminar 

Master’s Degree Requirements 


The master’s program in history requires satisfactory completion of 30 credit hours of graduate courses. In addition to the 12 credit hours of graduate coursework taken during the Senior year, students must complete an additional 18 credit hours of graduate coursework once fully admitted to the master’s program (i.e., in the fifth year of study). These include: 

  • HIST 805 The Nature of History (3)
  • HIST 802 Research Seminar (3)
  • Electives (12) 

At least 12 hours of electives numbered 800 or above. Students may take up to 3 of these hours outside of the History Department. 

No more than 9 hours of Electives numbered 500-799. Students in the Accelerated Masters should plan to take 9 hours of 500+ electives before the end of their fourth year. 

MA Examination 

In the final semester of enrollment, the student will sit for a ninety-minute oral examination that covers the student’s research fields and the papers prepared in the undergraduate capstone seminar (HIST 696 or 690/691) and the graduate research seminar (HIST 802), respectively. The 

M.A. examination committee must have a minimum of three graduate faculty members, including the advisor and at least one other faculty member from the Department of History. 

The student should enter the M.A. exam prepared to demonstrate their ability to teach an introductory-level History course in the primary field of study. The examination will cover basic historiographical questions, and the student should offer evidence of knowledge of the field equivalent to the material contained within a survey textbook. Moreover, the exam is designed to permit the student to demonstrate competency in engaging in an academic conversation. The examining committee will also discuss the content and significance of the research papers and advise upon future directions in the student’s submission of these papers for publication. 


Students should complete all requirements for the Accelerated M.A. within 2 to 3 semesters of receiving the bachelor’s degree. If unforeseen circumstances prevent the timely completion of the master’s degree, the student must consult with their graduate advisor to develop an alternative plan for completion. 

Director of Undergraduate Studies

For questions about undergraduate-level coursework, contact Nathan Wood

Director of Graduate Studies

For questions about graduate-level coursework or the broader structure of the Accelerated M.A. program, contact Robert Schwaller

Graduate Program Coordinator

For questions regarding the application process, contact Kara Kopchinski