MA Program Requirements

We are one of the largest history departments in North America, home to a critical mass of expertise and ranked 6th among public universities worldwide and 4th in North America (QS World University Rankings, 2015).

Program Structure

Full-Time vs. Part-Time

Our master’s degree program may be taken on a full-time or part-time basis:

  1. The full-time MA program generally takes 10 months to complete, but must be completed within three years.

  2. The part-time MA program must be completed within six years of the date of entry.

Program Options

Our master’s degree students have two program options:

  1. Five half-courses and a major research paper (called “the 2000 paper” in the department)
  2. Four half-courses and a thesis

In recent years, almost all MA candidates have chosen option 1 (five courses plus the 2000 paper). Option 2 generally takes longer to complete.

All MA students are expected to take HIS 1997H (​The Practice of History) or HIS 1201H (The Materials of Medieval History), depending on their field and on course offerings. More information can be found on the School of Graduate Studies website.


Collaborative Specialized Programs

As a Department of History master’s degree student, you have the option of applying to a collaborative MA program in one of the following areas of study:

Program Requirements

Whether done by course/paper or thesis, the MA program entails three elements:

  1. Courses (including HIS1997H or HIS1201H, depending on the student’s field and on departmental course offerings)
  2. Language requirement
  3. Research project (2000 paper or thesis)

Option 1: Courses and 2000 Paper


You are required to complete five half-year graduate courses in history or their equivalent, including HIS1997H or HIS1201H (depending on field and on departmental course offerings).

HIS1997H is the core course for MA students, but medievalists should take HIS1201H instead when it is available. The other four courses are normally chosen from those offered by the department that year, though it is possible for you to arrange a one-term reading course in an area not included in that year’s list.

Two of the half-courses (or one full course) may be taken outside the department with the permission of the graduate coordinator. You must achieve a B average in your coursework to fulfill the requirements.

2000 Paper

You will write the essay, or "the 2000 paper", under the supervision of one of our graduate faculty members.

The process of researching for and writing the essay will acquaint you with the skills you will need to prepare scholarly research articles in the field of history. Most scholarly journals in history limit submissions to a range of about 7000 to 8000 words (approximately 35 pages). This paper should fall within those parameters.

You should strive to produce an original research paper in the format of an article, making extensive use of primary sources available in Toronto or accessible by interlibrary loan, set within the framework of the existing historiography. You will not be required to travel beyond the Toronto area to complete your research.

In addition to acquainting you with the characteristics of the article genre, the intent of this paper is to help you develop skills in research, in the use of primary-source evidence and in defining and defending an argument with a substantial body of evidence within a limited space.


A short 2000-paper proposal, signed by your supervisor, is due to our graduate office by the date announced each year. The proposal form will be made available well in advance of the deadline.

The deadline for completion and submission of the 2000 paper (essay) is June 30 of each year.

Option 2: Courses and Thesis


The candidate is required to complete four half-courses or their equivalent, including HIS1997 or HIS1201 (depending on field and on department course offerings). HIS1997 is the core course for MA students, but medievalists should take HIS1201 instead when it is available.


Your thesis must be based on primary sources and must not exceed 125 pages. You will write it under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. Your thesis will be examined by a committee composed of your supervisor and two other members of our department. The examination takes place in our department.

This option is rarely approved. There should be a compelling reason for selecting the thesis option.

Language Requirement

All MA candidates must demonstrate the ability to read a language other than English by passing a language exam while registered in the program. Language exams normally consist of translating passages into English and a passing mark is 70%. Many MA students take the French test offered two times a year in our department. Some students may require additional or different language tests:

  • Students researching Russia should strongly consider a Russian exam (depending on the candidate’s research interests)
  • Students doing research in the Eastern Europe area will normally fulfill the requirement with an Eastern European/Eurasian language
  • Students researching the medieval period should strongly consider passing the Latin exam in addition to the French or German exam.

Language Exams

We offer a French exam three times per year. Dates will be announced by the graduate office early in the academic year. Information about the examinations in languages other than French may be obtained from the appropriate language department.

For other language exams not listed please consult the Graduate Office.