UMKC Catalog


Master of Arts: History

This master’s program is designed for students who already have completed a non-terminal baccalaureate degree with a major in History or a related field. Students may pursue this master’s degree as a terminal degree or may leave open the option of continuing to a doctorate.

In this program, students will typically develop an in-depth knowledge of three fields of historical scholarship in their areas of interest, including chronology, bibliography, major themes and interpretations. Students may find that they develop these interests in the process of their interaction with the department faculty.

In the process of developing this advanced knowledge, students will also be expected to master the skills of historical scholarship. They will learn:How to recognize, demonstrate, and apply appropriate knowledge of the world’s civilizations and peoples as well as their political, economic, social, and cultural histories.

  1. How to recognize, demonstrate, and apply appropriate knowledge of the world’s civilizations and peoples as well as their political, economic, social, and cultural histories.
  2. How to identify and employ primary and/or secondary sources to research a topic exhaustively.
  3. How to relate the events in his/her particular story to the general history of the topic; and the student relates his/her interpretation to the interpretations of other historians, or to theorists or scholars in other disciplines.
  4. How to use primary and secondary sources to construct an original historical interpretation, demonstrating competency in identifying a problem, posing a hypothesis, proposing a methodology, and engaging the data.
  5. How to critically appraise alternative readings of the past, create a coherent historical interpretation, and take a critical position in these debates.
  6. How to compose and present clear, well-organizes, properly documented grammatical prose.

Fields of History Offered by Regular Graduate Faculty

William B. Ashworth, Jr. Science, Renaissance, Early Modern European
Andrew S. Bergerson Modern European, Modern German, Everyday Life, Material Culture, German Studies
Gary L. Ebersole Religious, Japanese, Cultural
Miriam Forman-Brunell Everyday Life, Material Culture of Girls and Women/Gender in U.S. History David Freeman Early Modern European, Dutch, Religion, German Studies
Viviana Grieco Colonial and Modern Latin American, Gender and Sexuality, Political Culture, Economic and Social
John Herron Environmental, Western United States, 19th and 20th Century United States
Dennis Merrill U.S. Diplomatic, Contemporary U.S., Modern Latin America, Globalization, International Relations
Linda E. Mitchell Medieval British Isles, Women & Gender, Medieval Legal & Administrative, Ancient Greece & Rome
Diane Mutti Burke 19th Century America, American South, Civil War, Early American Women, U.S. Social History
Matthew Warner Osborn Early America
Lynda S. Payne Modern British, Science, Medicine, Gender, The Body, Women, Early Modern European
Massimiliano Vitiello Ancient History, Late Antiquity

In addition to these topical areas, students may opt to focus their graduate studies on a particular track. Tracks allow students to develop a specialization in a particular approach to or application of history. The tracks currently available to students are:

Microhistory refers to a study of the past that interrogates small-scale contexts and proximate interactions. It includes biography and autobiography, community studies, ethnography, everyday life, material culture, and oral history. This track can prepare students for any career but it particularly applicable to academia or teaching. Microhistorians seek to understand the origins, operation, and implementation of macrohistorical forces at the immediate level.

Public History
Public history refers to the application of cutting-edge historical research to make it accessible to a wider, typically non-academic public. This track prepares students for professional positions in archives, memorials, museums, and rare-book rooms as well as for work in broadcast and electronic media. Public historians interrogate the operation of history and memory in the present and seek to foster critical engagement about the past.

Tracks may be combined with any fields of study offered in our department. Students interested in tracking their studies may announce their interest in their application or at any time before the completion of their 12th credit hour.

Program Options

The Department of History offers two options leading to the master of arts degree. Both require 36 credit hours.

  • M.A. in History with Thesis. This degree is for students who want to keep open the option of continuing their education beyond this degree.
  • M.A. in history without Thesis. This degree is for students wishing to conclude their history education with this degree.

Students in either the microhistory or the public history tracks may only complete their degree "with thesis" though the format requirements and options for the final project depend on the track.

The Department of History will consider for admission as a regular graduate student any student:

  • Whose undergraduate major was History.
  • Who had a 3.0 grade-point average in History courses and a 3.0 grade-point average overall.

Applicants who do not hold an undergraduate degree in History, but whose baccalaureate program included substantial training in History and/or related subjects, may also be considered for regular admission. In order to be admitted into the program, applicants must provide evidence that they have scored a minimum of 150 on the GRE, or a minimum score of 80 (internet) or 550 (paper) or 213 (competer) on the TOEFL and a minimum score of 4.0 is required for English as Second Language speakers.

Applicants must submit all of the following supplemental materials in addition to the basic admissions application:

  1. An autobiographical essay (typically 2 pages long),
  2. An essay detailing your scholarly interests, including if possible: the faculty with whom you wish to study(typically 2 pages long),
  3. A sample of your scholarly writing,
  4. Three letters of recommendation, and
  5. A completed admissions application.

It is crucial that the entire application be completed and supplementary materials submitted in three steps:

  1. Send copies of your official test results to the Office of Admissions.
  2. Complete the admissions application online at
  3. Send copies of your official test results and letters of recommendation to:


    Mailing Address
    University of Missouri-Kansas City
    Office of Admissions, Administrative Center, Room 120
    5115 Oak Street
    Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
  4. Complete the supplementary application process online at Please take great care to answer all questions. You submit application materials, including letters of recommendation and writing samples, by faxing them directly to (573) 884-4898 for domestic students or -4894 for international applications.

Do not send anything directly to the Department of History. It is your responsibility to confirm the receipt of all materials by the due date.

Completed applications are due by March 15, for admission in the Fall semester of the new academic year and October 1, for admission in the Spring semester of the following calendar year. The History Department does not accept students for admissions beginning in the Summer semester.

Financial Aid

There are a limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships available. For information and forms, contact the History office directly. The School of Graduate Studies also administers graduate fellowships and scholarships. For all other inquiries about financial aid, contact:

Financial Aid and Scholarships Office
Administrative Center, Room 101
5115 Oak Street
(816) 235-1154 (Kansas City Metro)
1-800-775-8652 (Outside of Metro)
Fax: (816) 235-5511

Student Orientation

If admitted, students will be asked to sign a letter of intent to enroll.
Students should schedule a meeting with the Masters Advisor. During this meeting the student will be assigned a faculty mentor. The faculty mentor will:

  • serve as a personal connection to the department
  • assist the student in all matters professional during their study in the department
  • and may continue even after the student has identified a Faculty Advisor (their content specific instructor).

The History Graduate Student Association will host an annual Graduate Student Orientation during the weeks prior to the start of the Fall semester. At which students will be:

  • introduced to the program curriculum and administration and
  • encouraged to build working relationships with faculty and peers.

Minimum Expectations

Students must demonstrate satisfactory progress towards the completion of their degree. In all courses students must

  1. Receive a grade of 2.67 or higher in all courses taken in the History Department.
  2. Maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 graduate GPA.
  3. Adhere rigorously and conscientiously to academic standards of honesty (see below).
  4. Demonstrate serious commitment to scholarship and intellectual engagement.
  5. Abide by all requirements of the School of Graduate Studies (see School of Graduate Studies section of the Graduate and Professional Catalog), in addition to those of the Department of History.

In terms of administrative procedures, students must punctually file the following forms, each of which must be approved by the M.A. adviser, the faculty adviser and the other members of the supervisory committee:

  1. A tentative program of study, and the form listing the initial members of the Supervisory Committee, by the 15th of October or 15th of March before the completion of the student's 15th credit hour.
  2. A final program of study, and the form listing the final members of the supervisory committee, by the 15th of October or 15th of March before the completion of the student's 30th credit hour.
  3. The student must have identified a Faculty Advisor who has agreed to serve as the student’s lead instructor for the semester of study. Faculty Advisors, like tentative programs of study, may be changed over the course of a student’s study.

Each year students are required to submit a formal report of their progress toward their degree. The narrative statement should include a description of students’ coursework, exam preparation, research activities (including progress toward the thesis/dissertation/final project, conference activities, publications, exhibits, and the status of grant applications), awards, and internships, as applicable.  In addition, students should outline their goals for the coming academic year.  

Students in the microhistory or public-history tracks must declare their intent to track their studies by the completion of their 12th credit hour by forming a viable committee and completing a program of study.

Extenuating Circumstances

Students incapable of meeting administrative deadlines may request an extension from the M.A. adviser. These requests must be made in writing in advance of the deadlines. Incompletes will be given only when there are legitimate reasons for not completing course requirements on time, and only when there are reasonable expectations that work can be completed within the time allowed by the School of Graduate Studies (maximum of one year).


Failing any of these conditions means that the student is not making satisfactory progress towards the completion of her/his degree. In that case, the student will be placed on probation and will have to petition the department, through a letter to the M.A. adviser and graduate committee, for permission to resume his or her studies the following semester. The department will then recommend a reasonable plan for remediation. If the student fails to meet the standards set by the department, the student will be declared ineligible for enrollment and dropped from the program.

Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism is an inexcusable act in the view of the History faculty. Any student guilty thereof will be liable to expulsion from the program. A detailed statement by the faculty is available in the History office.  Please refer to the UMKC Student Standard of Conduct.

Research dishonesty refers to any conduct that is intended to mislead or communicate false research data or results, or which communicates such data or results in reckless disregard of their false or misleading character. Illustrations of research dishonesty include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • False or misleading statements or publications concerning research data or results
  • Intentional or reckless distortion or misinterpretation of research data or results
  • Use of research methods which the researcher knows to be unreliable or which produce erroneous results, unless appropriately explained in publications and reports of the research
  • Release of research data or scholarly efforts of other persons, and representing them as one's own or failing to give appropriate credit to their sources
  • Misuse of the work of others or misrepresentation of authorship as that of the student

The Supervisory Committee

The supervisory committee consists of three full-time, regular members of the UMKC History Department who are also members of the graduate faculty, with the student’s faculty adviser serving as chair of this committee.

  • For non-thesis students, the supervisory committee will ordinarily serve as the final examining committee. In consultation with the supervisory committee, the student should select fields for examination.
  • For thesis students, the supervisory committee will serve as the readers for the thesis.

With the approval of the faculty advisor:

  • One member of the committee may be a full-time, regular member of another UMKC department so long as that person is also a member of the graduate faculty.
  • A fourth member may be added to the committee from the adjunct graduate faculty or from the graduate faculty of another institution.

Students tracking their studies towards Microhistory or Public History are required to have at least one member of the faculty whose scholarship involves the appropriate approach. Public-History students are permitted, and strongly encouraged, to include one or two members of the adjunct graduate history faculty on their committees who work professionally in the field of public history in the Kansas City region.

Final Masters Examination for Non-Thesis Students

Candidates for the M.A. degree without thesis will be examined in two fields. One Chronological/National and one Topical/Interdisciplinary (refer to the Department Web site for a complete list). In each, the student must demonstrate mastery of the historical knowledge

  1. including chronology, bibliography, major themes and interpretations,
  2. implying that the student’s knowledge significantly exceeds his or her class work, and
  3. reflecting an in-depth knowledge of that field of historical scholarship.

In all of the fields, students must also demonstrate mastery of the skills of historical scholarship. This means:

  • in writing and orally, to summarize a body of literature and take a critical position in that historigraphic debate,
  • to use particular historical facts to draw interpretive conclusions,
  • to use historical interpretations to engage in critical debates about how history should be written.

In terms of procedure, students will typically:

  1. Propose a list of no fewer than 25 landmark monographs and essays to each committee member that reflect the trends and debates in the field for which they are responsible.
  2. Meet with the individual member of the faculty to discuss these texts (possibly as part of Non-Thesis Reading/Research 5597).

When the student has demonstrated his/her preparedness to each individual member of the committee, the faculty committee will

  1. Meet to develop an integrated set of questions for that particular student’s exam.
  2. Meet with the student in advance of the examination to explain what is expected.

Written exams will be held on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the 4th week before "finals week". The student will typically be given:

  1. One exam per field
  2. One exam per day
  3. Three hours for each exam
  4. A choice of questions for each exam

At least one week later, but before classes are finished, the student will be examined orally for no more than two hours in which the exam is discussed by faculty and students and follow-up questions are posed. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own written examinations. Each examiner will evaluate the examination according to the following scale: Superior, Good, Fair, and Inferior (Fail). A grade of Fair or better in all three fields is required for the award of the master's degree.

Master's Thesis (for the Thesis Option)

Candidates for the M.A. degree with thesis will be required to write an original piece of historical scholarship based on their own research in primary sources and to make a contribution to the existing literature on the subject. By the 15th of October or 15th of March (before the completion of their 30th credit hour) the student must submit a research proposal for the thesis, approved by the faculty adviser, to the M.A. adviser for filing. Students should:

  1. Meet regularly with the faculty adviser during research and writing.
  2. Solicit the advice of the other members of the committee before submitting a final draft to the entire committee.

The completed thesis will:

  1. Summarize the literature/s relating to this area of research and take a critical position in it/them, engaging questions about chronology, bibliography, major themes and interpretations.
  2. Explain and justify its theory and methodology.
  3. Tell a story about the past eloquently on the basis of primary sources.
  4. Comply with academic standards of honest and disciplinary standards of evidence.
  5. Comply with all formal and administrative, University-wide guidelines for thesis submission. (Students are highly encouraged to attend a workshop offered by the School of Graduate Studies on proper thesis format held typically during the third week of each semester.)

The final draft of the thesis is due no later than two semesters after the completion of coursework. Written requests for extensions to this deadline, approved by the faculty adviser, should be submitted to the M.A. adviser in advance of this deadline. Students must abide by the Completion Timeline for Theses and Dissertations prescribed by the School of Graduate Studies (see Appendix for links.)

Defense of Master's Thesis

Candidates for an M.A. degree with thesis will be required to defend their thesis in an oral examination, advertised and open to the public, in which the student will

  1. Make a 20 minute conference-style presentation of his/her research.
  2. Respond to questions from the audience and the committee about events, interpretation, theory, method and historiography.

Each examiner will evaluate the thesis according to the following scale: Superior, Good, Acceptable, Acceptable with Revisions, and Unacceptable (Fail). A grade of Acceptable or better by all members of the committee is required for the award of the master's degree.

Honary Organizations

The department sponsors a chapter of the national history honorary, Phi Alpha Theta. Admission into the honorary requires a 3.2 grade-point average in a minimum of 12 credits of graduate work. The honorary sponsors programs and lectures during the school year, and members are often invited to read papers at the regional conventions. Membership in Phi Alpha Theta is noted on each honoree's official transcript.

Students should strongly consider membership in professional organizations for historians, such as the American Historical Association ( and others.


Language Requirements

The M.A. in History with thesis will require demonstration of foreign language competency if the subject matter requires it. The faculty adviser will determine how this requirement should be fulfilled. The M.A. in History without thesis does not require foreign language competency.

Course Requirements

Students seeking to fulfill either program option are required to complete a minimum of 36 credits of graduate-level work which must include completing the following courses with a grade of 2.67 (B-) or better:

  1. How To-History I & II (HISTORY 5581 and HISTORY 5582) for a total of 6 credits,
  2. A minimum of two graduate level Colloquia (HISTORY 5585 and/or HISTORY 5586) for a minimum of 6 credits, and
  3. A minimum of one Research Seminar (HISTORY 5587) for 3 credits.

The department encourages students to take all of the remaining courses in their curriculum (21 credits) in the History department at the 5500 level. With the approval of the student's faculty adviser, however, students may take up to 6 credits at the 400 level if these fit with their overall program of study. Students may also take up to 9 credits in courses outside the department provided:

  1. They are demonstrably graduate level courses.
  2. They clearly relate to the student's program of study.
  3. The student receives the approval of her/his supervisory committee.

Students may transfer up to 20% of the graduate credit hours appearing on the final program of study from another recognized graduate school.

Students in the Microhistory Track are encouraged to study abroad for one semester through exchange programs to universities associated with the Microhistory Network. One particularly viable option includes the MAUI-Utrecht Network Exchange which allows students to pay UMKC tuition to study in many different European universities. With the approval of the student’s committee, students may transfer up to 12 credits from a recognized graduate school in courses specifically focused on Microhistory.

Non-Thesis students may take up to 6 credits of Non-Thesis Research/Readings (HISTORY 5597) in which they receive one on one instruction in areas of their own special interest (a course offered at the discretion of individual instructors).

Thesis-option students must take at least 1 and no more than 6 credits of Thesis Research/Readings (HISTORY 5599R) in which they receive one-on-one mentoring as they develop their own contribution to knowledge based upon extensive research, reflection, and careful analysis (a course offered at the discretion of individual instructors).

Track Requirements

Students in the Microhistory Track must complete all of the required courses for the MA with thesis. They must take the Research Seminar (HISTORY 5587) in one of the following topics: Life Histories, Everyday Life, or Material Culture. They must also take one or two relevant courses in Anthropology, Art History, English, Foreign Languages & Literatures, Religious Studies, or Sociology. All courses and coursework throughout the program must involve Microhistory. All curricular decisions must be approved in advance by the student's committee.

Students in the Public History Track must complete all of the required courses for the MA with thesis. They must also complete HISTORY 5592 a or b, the Archival or Public History Internship as well as HISTORY 5593 Museum Studies. They must also take one or more courses (with no maximum) in Anthropology, Archeology, Architecture & Urban Planning, Art History, Communication Studies, English, or Sociology. All courses and coursework throughout the program must involve public history. All curricular decisions must be approved in advance by the student's committee.


These courses form the knowledge base for the graduate and doctoral program. Divided for purely administrative reasons into “American” and “World”, students are encourage to take as many of these as can fit into their Program of Study. One of each is offered each Fall and Spring semester in the evening. In them, students will

  1. Read broadly and learn about the major trends in the historiography of a particular historical problem, place, period, or specialization.
  2. Develop fundamental skills of the professional historian such as the ability to write academic book reviews, make conference-style presentations, and discuss among peers the work of other historians critically.

This course typically culminates in the production of a term paper and/or literature review on a subject of the student’s interest that could serve as the context for a future research project or comprehensive examination field.

Students in tracks must complete assignments that are appropriate for that track.

How To-History

These foundational courses in the doing of history are offered in a two-semester sequence in the evening.

  • In Part I (Fall semester), students will learn about the major trends in historiography by reading the “great books” of historical scholarship and learn the basics of historical criticism; the major assignment is a literature review that will aid the students in preparing for How To-History II.
  • In Part II (Fall semester), students will learn the research methodologies and professional obligations of historians; the major assignment is a viable research prospectus that will aid the students in preparing for their Research Seminar.

Research Seminars

Subjects include:

  • Communities and Identities
  • Gender, Sexuality and the Body
  • Globalization and Internationalism
  • Microhistory (Everyday Life, Life Histories, or Material Culture)
  • Region and the Environment
  • Science, Technology and Medicine
  • Texts and Ideas

On a rotating basis, two of these courses are offered in the Spring semester in the evenings. Students may take two in the same semester only with the approval of their Faculty Advisor. In them, students will

  • read a few examples of this field of scholarship,
  • propose a viable research project with a professional prospectus,
  • conduct historical research, 
  • write up the results to demonstrate a contribution to the existing literature,
  •  make conference-style presentations of their research, and
  • discuss the work of other historians critically among peers.

This course culminates in the production of an article-length “publishable” paper based on primary research. Students writing superior papers will participate in a Graduate Student Conference at the end of the Spring semester. All masters students will attend this conference as an audience.

Track Specific Requirements for the Research Seminar Paper

Microhistory: a publishable article of original scholarship in microhistory of 10,550 to 14,000 words.

Public History: Either

  1. a 15-20 minute documentary based on original historical scholarship;
  2. an equivalent project in digital humanities; or
  3. an exhibition based on original historical scholarship with 5 displays and 10-15 items as well as a 12-15 page exhibition catalogue. Media options include: traditional, film, radio, online, and multimedia. A public display is required.

Dual-Numbered Courses (300/5500 & 400/5500)

Offered at a variety of times each semester, these courses expose graduate students further to major trends in the historiography of larger historical problems, places, periods, or specializations and allow them to hone their skills at academic history. Often taught in conjunction with undergraduate courses in the same subject area, graduate students in these courses will be held to a higher standard of knowledge and performance.

The Annual Graduate Student Conference

The History Department will host an annual Graduate Student Conference on Thursday afternoon and evening of the reading period in the Spring Semester (typically the last week in April or the first week in May). Graduate students should plan to attend as required by the program. In it, students will

  • demonstrate their expertise in a research agenda of their own creation,
  •  present their research to peers and faculty,
  •  comment constructively and critically on the research of others,
  • engage critical questions in public, and
  •  celebrate their academic achievements that year.

At the conclusion to this conference, the faculty will present two student participants with the Carla Klausner Award for the Best Paper Presentation in History and the Lynda Payne Award for the Best Poster Presentation in History.