Graduate Program Overview

We accept students interested in pursuing a graduate certificate, accelerated graduate degree program, and master's and doctoral degrees.

Graduate Certificates

There are two graduate certificates with different requirements. For a general graduate certificate, students will complete nine credit hours of graduate coursework which may be accomplished in one semester of concentrated work or completed on a part-time basis. The graduate certificate is appropriate for individuals who are uncertain whether they wish to complete the more demanding master's or doctorate track. Certificate credits may be applied to a master's degree if the individual decides to continue with advanced graduate education.

For the graduate certificate in cultural and environmental heritage management, students will complete 15 credit hours of graduate coursework which may be accomplished in one year or on a part-time basis. This certificate is appropriate for individuals seeking interdisciplinary skills to manage historic sites. The certificate requires courses in history as well as in three other allied fields. 

Accelerated Graduate Degree Program

The accelerated graduate degree program is exclusively for current undergraduates who wish to complete a B.A./M.A. program. Undergraduate students may apply 12 credit hours of coursework completed to the master's program. The AGDP is appropriate for history majors and minors who would like to complete the Master of Arts in history in a shorter time frame. Student must be accepted into the AGDP before the completion of their undergraduate degree to be accepted for double credit before beginning the program. Typically, undergraduates apply before Jan. 15, April 1 or Nov. 1 in the first or second semester of the junior year. 

Master of Arts Degree

For a Master of Arts in history, there are three tracks which a student may progress to receive a degree. On the thesis track, where a student completes a master’s thesis, the student who enters with a B.A. must complete 30 credit hours of graduate coursework (typically four full-time semesters). For the public history track, where a student participates in internships and practical placements, the student who enters with a bachelor's must complete 30 credit hours of graduate coursework (typically four full-time semesters). On the general option track, a student who is not completing a thesis and does not satisfy the requirements of the public history option may still receive a master’s degree after completing 33 credit hours of graduate coursework (typically four full-time semesters). Further specifics may be found in the graduate handbook.

Doctoral Degree

Applicants for the doctorate in history typically already hold a master's degree in history or its equivalent in cognate areas, although they may be in the process of completing their master's degree when applying. The WMU Department of History does not accept applicants for the doctoral program who hold only a bachelor's degree.

To receive a doctorate degree, a student must complete 75 credit hours of graduate coursework, prepare and defend a dissertation proposal, prepare a doctoral portfolio, complete a dissertation, and defend that dissertation prior to graduation. Further specifics on these requirements may be found in the graduate handbook, along with deadlines that must be met.

For All Graduate Programs

While there is a good deal of flexibility with coursework, certain classes form the core of our program. During the fall semester of the first year, incoming students take History 6010 (historiography). All students take a sequence of readings and research seminars related to their major field, and all students take an additional course in the theory or method of history.

All graduate students are expected to have reading knowledge of at least one foreign language. Students of ancient history will have reading proficiency in Latin or Greek plus one modern foreign language; students of medieval history will have reading proficiency in Latin plus one modern foreign language. More than one foreign language may be required if the major advisor deems it necessary for the completion of a thesis or dissertation project.

There are additional requirements that advanced students must fulfill, including a defense of the thesis or dissertation proposal, the creation of a dissertation portfolio, and passage of comprehensive exams. These requirements are explained more fully in the graduate handbook. Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Director of Graduate Studies at for more information.

Individuals seeking more information may also contact faculty in specific fields of study with whom they might take classes or write a thesis or dissertation.

Our website provides information on a number of topics that prospective students may have questions about. We encourage you to explore and learn about our current graduate students (M.A. and Ph.D.), the financial support that exists for graduate study, the accomplishments of our graduate students in the news section and placement information about our graduate alumni (M.A. and Ph.D.). The history department has a vibrant intellectual community where students will have a rich variety of opportunities that exist at WMU and in Kalamazoo.