Comprehensive exams for M.A.T.H. students

Before the exams

During your time in the M.A.T.H. program, but before taking comprehensive examinations, the following must be completed:

Specific course work requirements

The M.A.T.H. degree requires a total of 32 credits, which should include the following:

  • History 600 Proseminar (1 credit)
  • Historiography (6 credits)
  • 24 credits in additional courses, as follows:
    • History (minimum 12 credits)
    • Liberal Arts courses outside of history (minimum 3 credits)
    • Education courses (minimum 6 credits)
  • Comprehensive work as follows:
    • History 795 Comprehensive Examination (1 credit)

700-level requirement

Of the courses above, at least 15 credits must be in 700-level courses. The historiography requirement and comprehensive examinations (History 795) count toward fulfilling this requirement.

Independent Study/Readings

Students are expected to take nine credits in the field in which they will take the comprehensive examination, including at least one 3-credit independent readings course with the faculty member supervising that field. Students also are expected to take nine credits in the field in which they will prepare their teaching unit plan. In some cases, a course will contribute toward both fields.

Other requirements

Please review the graduate program requirements for information on Changes in Committee Members/Examination Fields, on the Program of Study Form/Meeting, for transfer credits information and information on the graduation application.

Comprehensive examinations information

In one of the student's two fields of concentration, he or she must pass a comprehensive examination, based upon nine credits of course work – at least three credits of which should consist of an independent-reading course (History 703 or 705) with the supervising faculty member. The comprehensive examination is a three-hour written exam. Previous comprehensive examinations are kept on file in the department of history, where students may consult them.

In the other field of concentration, the student must develop a teaching unit plan (3-4 weeks of primary or secondary class curriculum). This unit plan should be based upon substantial readings in historical scholarship and relevant pedagogical scholarship, should reference appropriate state, county and national history curriculum standards, and should contain a historiographical essay and an annotated bibliography of relevant scholarship.

Reading lists

In the examination field, the student is responsible for a reading list drawn in part from the readings in the courses taken. The independent study with the supervising faculty member should occur toward the end of the student's course work, so that the faculty member can prescribe readings to address gaps in prior work. Reading lists for the M.A.T. comprehensive examination consists of 20-30 books or their equivalent (where three or four articles are the equivalent of a book).


Students should take the comprehensive examination in the semester when they complete their course work. Examinations are administered within a one-week period, generally around the 13th week of the semester. The teaching unit plan is due at the beginning of the week of comprehensive examinations.


All comprehensive examinations are read by at least two members of the Department of History. The department may permit the student to arrange for re-examination in case of failure. After a student's examination has been evaluated, readers' reports will be made available.

The teaching unit plan will also be evaluated by two members of the faculty, generally one from the department of history and one from a related College of Liberal Arts department or the College of Education. The readers will either approve or recommend revisions to the unit plan.


Comprehensive work (examination and unit plan) is considered together as History 795, which counts for one credit.

Final oral presentation

After the readers have approved the student's teaching unit plan, the student will give a 20-minute presentation. The presentation should demonstrate engagement with the historiography of the subject matter and awareness of contemporary methods of studying and teaching that subject matter. The presentation is a public event, to which the history faculty and graduate students are invited. Upon passage of the presentation and acceptance of the unit plan, the committee members sign the "Master's Degree - Notice of Completion."