Graduate Bulletin

Spring 2018

Description of the History Department

The Department of History has a faculty of 30 distinguished researchers and teachers. Each year we admit 6 to 8 students into the doctoral program and around the same number of students into the terminal master’s program. The department currently has approximately 60 full- and part-time graduate students.

While the department has strength in a number of traditional areas of historical study, it also has a long tradition of comparative, interdisciplinary, and theoretically informed research. The graduate program has been structured around four areas of thematic inquiry—1) Empire, Colonialism, and Globalization; 2) Nation-State, Civil Society, and Popular Politics; 3) Environment, Health, Science, and Technology; and 4) Gender, Race, and Sexuality—to bring these theoretical issues to the fore and insure that our students learn how to apply such concepts as class, gender, race, culture, power, religion and environment in an explicit and sophisticated manner to the study of the past. To further these interests, the department maintains close connections with the Stony Brook Humanities Institute, the doctoral program in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, the Women’s Studies Program, Africana Studies, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, and the Center for Global History, as well as the departments from which these programs draw their core faculty.

The master’s program, which requires students to complete 30 credits of graduate study with a grade of B or higher, allows students to explore the history and historiography of their chosen area of concentration. Students in the master’s program have the option of choosing between a Professional Track and an Academic Track, based on their goals and interests. Students in both tracks follow a course of study similar to that followed by doctoral students during their first two semesters, and the oral examination during the third or fourth semester serves as the capstone experience for the master’s program.

The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students to carry out original research and to ultimately pursue a career at the university level. Doctoral students may choose to focus their study on a particular region and period or they may concentrate in one of the thematic areas of study described above, and all students are encouraged to work with faculty in other departments. Full-time students in the doctoral program typically take courses for their first six semesters in the program and take their Oral Examinations at the end of their third year. 

Students pursuing a M.A. Degree in History must choose one of two tracks, the Professional Track or the Academic Track. The following chart explains the differences between the two tracks:

Professional Track

Academic Track

The professional track allows students to follow as rigorous a curriculum as they wish without requiring them to take courses that are better suited for doctoral students. It is designed for both social studies teachers who need a master’s degree for professional certification and those seeking advanced preparation for careers government service, journalism, and other fields that demand a combination of research, writing skills, and knowledge of the past. This program provides a stronger grounding in history than do master’s programs in liberal studies and teaching.


The professional track is also open to individuals seeking personal enrichment, whether or not history is directly related to their occupation. Students may enter the program in either the fall or spring semester and may enroll on either a full- or part-time basis.


Students in this track can earn their degree either through coursework alone or by choosing to write a 6-credit master’s thesis. The thesis will give students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of interest using primary sources.


Students can also take up to 6 credits of content-based pedagogy courses, and we hope to be able to offer such courses as Teaching American History Through Popular Culture, Introduction to Economics Education, and Teaching Geography.


Students may begin the program either in the Fall or the Spring semester.

The academic track is designed for individuals who aspire to a career in teaching or writing history at the college level, but who are not yet ready to enter a Ph.D. program. Students in the academic track are required to enroll in the two-semester Core Seminar in historical theory and research and generally follow the course of study of incoming doctoral (Ph.D.) students. Students are only admitted to this track for studies beginning in the fall.


Students in this track are expected to develop a concentration in a region or period, or in an interdisciplinary field, and to conduct research in this area of concentration in the Core Seminar.


As with the professional track, students in the academic track can earn their degree either through coursework alone or by choosing to write a 6-credit master’s thesis.. The thesis will give students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of interest using primary sources.


Students may begin the program only in the Fall semester.