University at Buffalo Department of History

Thinking about an M.A. in History? FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why should I consider an M.A. in History?

  • Maybe you’re thinking about a Ph.D., but aren’t yet sure if it’s the right option for you—or, you are sure but want to improve your chances of getting into your dream program.
  • You want a career teaching in Middle or High School, but are turned-off by the idea of an M.A. in Education—besides, you like History and want your students to like it too!
  • Teaching’s not for me: I’m interested in government service; or, library and archival work; or, preservation and museum management; or maybe journalism or a career in media or documentary film.
  • I’m thinking about a career in law, or politics, or planning, or social services.

You can also request further information regarding the M.A. program on-line.

Our M.A. program may be just the right move for you!

O.K., it may be a good idea—but what am I committing myself to?

  • Not as much as you might think! You’ll need 30 credits to get your degree: about 10 courses (some required), most of them seminars, some can be independent study courses.
  • You’ll need to complete an M.A. project—think of it as a long research paper. Usually, you’ll start the project in a research seminar, and complete it by later taking an independent study course simply called “M.A. Project.”

I don’t want to be in school forever: how long will it take me to get my degree?

  • A full-time load is 12 credits—4 courses—per semester. We wouldn’t advise taking more than that.
  • If you’re really ambitious, you might finish in one academic year, plus a summer. Most students find it very possible to finish in three semesters.

I need to work: can I do the degree part-time?

  • Yes! You can take up to four years to complete the M.A.

I’m not an “A” student in History: do I have a chance of getting in?

  • Yes—if you have a GPA of 3.0, or higher, or a GPA in History over 3.0, you should be competitive!

Great! But is it too late to apply?

  • For Fall semester admission, the target date to complete your application is April 1st—but we accept applications through the Spring and even into the summer until our class is filled. (The target date for Spring semester admissions is October 1st.)

How do I apply? What do you need from me?

  • Actually, it’s pretty simple—and we can help! Here’s what we need from you:
    1. Application with a $75 nonrefundable fee.
    2. Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
    3. Two letters of recommendation (three letters are required for consideration to receive any available SUNY Underrepresented Minority Graduate Fellowships)
    4. Sample of written work
    5. Personal statement of purpose
    6. The aptitude portion (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing) of the GRE
    7. For international students, the financial statement and a TOEFL score (for those whose native language is not English)

Whom should I ask to write a recommendation for me?

  • We strongly recommend that you ask TWO HISTORY PROFESSORS from whom you have taken at least one course each to write a recommendation for you.
  • If you’re not sure what to do, please ask our Director of Graduate Studies!

What is the writing sample? What should I submit?

  • Ideally, it should be a paper of ten or more pages that you’ve written for one of your 300 or 400 upper-level history courses.
  • Try to submit a sample of your writing that represents your best work, and that reflects your ability to write coherent, attractive English and to present an effective argument.

What is the “Personal Statement”?

  • Just tell us about yourself! Why are you interested in history, and what aspects of history most interest you? Why do you want to earn an M.A. degree in History? How will such a degree help you achieve your short-term and long-term life’s goals? This is your opportunity to show us your best side!

What is the “GRE”?

  • Remember the SATs that you took to get into college? The GREs were invented by the same people to torture you (only kidding—I think!). The Graduate Record Examinations are required for admission to graduate programs at UB. You’ll need to register for, and take, the “Aptitude” portion of the GREs (Verbal; Quantitative; Analytical Writing).

How do I register for the GREs, and when should I take them?

  • Register and take the GRE exams as soon as possible: we’d like to have the scores at about the same time that you submit your application to us.
  • To register for the computer-based GRE exam, call UB’s Career Planning and Placement Office (259 Capen Hall): (716) 645-6859.
  • To register for the traditional paper-based exam (results take much longer to be sent to us), check out the official GRE website for instructions and information:

Come see us if you have any questions about the M.A. Program at all! We’re here to help you.


Last updated: Friday, February 13, 2015

University at Buffalo Main Web Site Depart of History Main Web Site