The graduate programs in history offer advanced education for qualified students who wish to develop the analytical and research skills appropriate to the study of history. Basic to all graduate programs in this discipline is an emphasis on the location and classification of historical evidence, the interpretation of this evidence, and its synthesis in written and oral forms. The purpose of historical research and writing is to advance understanding of the past, to place the problems of the contemporary world in historical perspective, and to furnish insight about the future.
Advanced degrees in history serve several audiences, chief among them being those intent upon a teaching career at the secondary, junior college or university level; those interested in employment in government research, as foreign service officers, or in the management of archival resources and public and private historical agencies; and those who wish to study history as a means of understanding contemporary society and social issues. Private sector businesses and institutions consider a history degree, because of its emphasis on reading, writing, and analytical thinking, to be one of the more valuable for their generalists.
The M.A., M.A.P.H, and the Ph.D. programs provide sufficient flexibility to meet the professional needs of these various interests at differing levels of achievement. All M.A. and M.A.P.H. students must show mastery of their subject matter and demonstrate an ability to do basic historical research. Attainment of the Ph.D. requires the ability to use such research tools as statistics and foreign languages, as well as extensive mastery of a series of historical fields and a demonstrated capacity for original research. The doctoral dissertation is the culmination of the historian's training and constitutes an enlargement of our knowledge and understanding of history. Normally one to two years of study will be required for the completion of the M.A.and M.A.P.H.; fulfillment of all requirements for the Ph.D. will usually involve four years of full-time study beyond the master of arts degree.