While allowing students to pursue specialized interests, the curriculum for the Master of Arts in medieval studies at Western Michigan University is intended to provide students with a broad interdisciplinary background in medieval history, languages, literature and religion. Most courses taken to fulfill the requirements for the M.A. are taught by the institute's affiliated faculty. There is an accelerated graduate degree program available to WMU undergraduates who meet the eligibility requirements and make a timely application.

M.A. curriculum for students beginning their studies in fall 2019 or later

Required coursework

Medieval Institute students on a field trip to Chicago.

Field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago

  • A total of 31 credit hours of coursework; or 34 credit hours for thesis writers, including 13 credit hours of required core courses (with a course grade of B or better);
  • 18 credit hours, or 15 credit hours for thesis writers, of electives;
  • Thesis writers take six credit hours of thesis (MDVL 7000).

Core courses

  • ENGL 5300: Medieval Literature (three credit hours)
  • HIST 5501: Medieval History Proseminar (three credit hours)
  • LAT 5600: Medieval Latin (four credit hours)
  • REL 6200: Medieval Religions (three credit hours)


Demonstrated proficiency in Latin and a second medieval or a modern language is required.

Oral examination

The hour-long oral examination is an opportunity for faculty and the student to explore content in medieval studies based on the student's coursework. Students will choose two seminar papers with two distinct disciplinary foci to submit to the examination committee, with the expectation that they will have revised the papers for the examination. The examination committee will be composed of three members named by the director in consultation with the student. Students are encouraged to consult the professors for whom they originally wrote the papers and members of their examination committee for guidance. For students writing theses, one paper may be a chapter of the thesis. These papers will serve as the starting point for the oral exam. Note that students will submit the two papers to the director no later than two weeks prior to examination.

Students will receive an assessment of high pass, pass, low pass, or fail. If a student fails an examination the examining faculty will determine whether the student is offered a one-time re-examination to be completed within 12 months of the first examination date.


With the thesis advisor's approval of a prospectus, a student may complete the degree by producing a master's thesis under the direction of a thesis committee. The committee will be composed by the director of the Medieval Institute in consultation with the student.

M.A. curriculum for students entering the program in fall 2018

Description 2018

M.A. Curriculum for students entering the program between fall 2015 and fall 2017

Description 2015-2017

M.A. curriculum for students beginning their studies before fall 2015

Description before 2015

Course offerings

In addition to regularly scheduled courses, as a student at the Medieval Institute you may have access to special topics seminars offered on campus by visiting scholars or off campus through Western Michigan University's affiliation with the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Recent courses at the Newberry taken by WMU students include "Gender, Bodies, and the Body Politic in Medieval Europe," "Poetry, Politics, and Community in High Medieval France," and "Lives and Deeds: Writing Biography in the Middle Ages."

Other opportunities for M.A. candidates

The Tashjian Study Fellowship provides support for a student who has demonstrated interest in either early England or manuscript research and who is enrolled in the M.A. program.

The Western Michigan University-NUI, Galway Conference Exchange Grant in medieval studies provides support for a student enrolled in the master's program in medieval studies to present a 20-minute paper at Imbas, an interdisciplinary conference for graduate student scholars hosted annually by the National University of Ireland, Galway.