Jul 13, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

History, M.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges and Program Offerings

Graduate Program Coordinator:
Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, Ph.D.

Program of Study

The Master of Arts in History builds students’ expertise in the field of history with an additional focus on the critical study of the history of media and/or Digital History (the use of digital technology to answer historical questions) in presenting history to the public. Historians have always used various media to communicate information about the past and they have always taken advantage of advances in technology to teach the public about its history. Currently, new media technology has changed how history is taught and how stories about the past are conveyed to the public. The Master of Arts in History program offers students opportunities to explore media as they have changed over time, beginning with the earliest oral and visual forms of historical communication through the rise of modern electronic media. Students pursuing the Master of Arts in History are required to take courses that develop their skills in critically analyzing media as they relate to history and to acquire skills in Digital History to convey historical information to the public.

This program provides students with a practical degree that prepares them for a variety of post-graduate careers, including: community college and post-credential teaching (enhanced by training in history and the new media classroom); public history (including museumship, historical societies, and electronic archives); media and journalism; doctoral education; urban planning; local, state, and city governmental jobs; public service; and other possibilities in the public and private sectors. The degree also offers students the opportunity to practice their skills in the workplace. Some students may pursue the option of an internship in a public or private agency where their training in historical content and media/technology can be applied. Additionally, the program offers a curriculum that allows students to explore pedagogical issues associated with history teaching and to gain experience teaching history in college classrooms.

During their course of study, students are required to master historiography, the philosophy of history, research and writing skills, critical analysis of specific historical topics, and to acquire technical skills. All Master of Arts degree candidates take one course in the critical study of the history of media and another course in Digital History, in which they produce their own Digital History project.

The Department of History at California State University San Marcos is ideally situated to offer an advanced degree in History. Located in San Diego County with access to Los Angeles, the Department of History draws on the region’s resources in film and television. The faculty of the Department of History coverage of world areas and periods including Africa, the Ancient World, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the United States, and Comparative/World History. Additionally, the department includes faculty who have expertise in critical historical media studies and in applying Digital History methods for preserving history and delivering historical content.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a Master of Arts in History will:

  1. Produce historical analyses that reflect a sophisticated understanding of major schools of historical theory.
  2. Demonstrate the knowledge of advanced historical methodologies in research.
  3. Produce scholarship that shows an in-depth knowledge of at least one portion of the human historical experience.
  4. Perform critical analyses of the history of media/mass culture/new media technology.
  5. Acquire skills in digital media technology, and apply those skills to the practice of history.
  6. Develop advanced research skills.
  7. Develop advanced historical writing skills.
  8. Produce research that makes an original and significant contribution to historical scholarship, in conversation with existing historiography.

Admission Requirements and Application

All applicants meeting the admission requirements for the Department of History must also meet the university requirements for graduate study. Applicants to the Master’s Program in History must have completed a Bachelor’s degree in history or allied field from an accredited university with at least four upper-division courses in history. Furthermore, applicants must have completed HIST 301 - Historical Methods and Writing  or the equivalent before beginning graduate work.

Additional requirements for admission to the program are as follows:

  • Admission to the University for Graduate Studies
  • Overall minimum grade point average of 3.0 with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the undergraduate major
  • TOEFL, if appropriate with a minimum score of 550
  • Two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended with official verification of graduation
  • Three letters of recommendation that assess academic accomplishments and potential for graduate study
  • A 750-word statement of research intent describing historical fields of study including mention of interest and/or experience in media and technology, relevant educational background, and post-graduate career/educational objectives
  • One formal academic writing sample, as recent as possible. Preferably, this should be a sample from previous college or university coursework and should not be written simply for the purpose of admission.
  • Completed CalState Apply application, including application fee.


Application materials for the Department of History
Send the following materials directly to: Administrative Coordinator, Department of History, 333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, California, 92096.

  • One set of official transcripts that include all work done at all colleges and universities
  • If applicable, TOEFL score report.

Application Deadlines:
Deadline for submission: Applications for Fall admission are due no later than March 15. Applications for Spring admission are due no later than October 30. However, applications may be accepted for review for as long as space is available in the program.


For a student to continue in the program, they must meet the following requirements:

  • Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA (A=4.0). If a student’s GPA falls below 3.0, s/he will be placed on academic probation the following semester. If the GPA remains below 3.0 for two semesters in a row, the student will be dropped from the program.
  • Students must be continuously enrolled unless they apply for a leave of absence. Students who are not continuously enrolled or who have a leave of absence longer than two semesters will be dropped from the program and must reapply.
  • All the requirements for the degree are to be finished within five years after matriculation into the graduate program. Authorized leaves of absence do not extend the time limit for completion of the degree.

Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement

Students need to fulfill the department’s Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement before advancing to candidacy. As part of the requirement, students must complete HIST 601  with a grade of B (3.0) or higher.

Advancement to Candidacy

All students will form a committee from the tenure-track history faculty based on areas of interest and planned capstone project, in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator. Students should consult regularly with the Graduate Coordinator regarding course selection and their capstone proposal. A student must request to be advanced to candidacy after completing 15 units. To be advanced to candidacy, the student must do the following:

  • Submit a capstone proposal to the Department.
  • Receive approval for the proposal.

Capstone Requirement

Students typically complete the degree with either a written thesis, a digital history project, or a portfolio of their research and/or pedagogical work.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 30 units of graduate study, 24 of which must be at the graduate level. Generally, none of the 30 units of coursework applied to the Master of Arts degree in History may have been applied toward a previous academic degree, however, in some cases, up to six (6) graduate history units not earned at CSUSM may be applied by petition (only coursework done as a post-baccalaureate student will be considered for application toward the graduate degree). All students are required to complete the core sequence of graduate courses (HIST 501 *, HIST 502 *, and HIST 601  must be completed with a grade of B or higher).

Additionally, all students are required to complete two semesters of capstone work (HIST 620 ). Students who do not complete their capstone project in two semesters of HIST 620  must continue to enroll in this course each semester while they are working on their capstone project. However, the additional units from HIST 620  do not count toward conferral of the degree.

The remainder of the units will consist of 500- or 600-level courses in history, but the department will allow up to two 400-level courses (six (6) units) to count toward the degree (400-level courses must be approved by the graduate coordinator).

Additionally, students may apply no more than a total of six (6) units of HIST 510 , HIST 699A , HIST 699B , and HIST 699C  toward the degree, although students may register for additional semesters of these courses. Students may include up to three (3) units of 400-, 500-, and 600-level courses taken from another department if approved by petition. It is possible, in some specific cases, students may be allowed to petition to take limited additional graduate credits outside of the Department of History.

* In some rare circumstances, the department may allow substitutions for HIST 501  and/or HIST 502  by petition.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges and Program Offerings