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History & Archaeology×

University of Alabama, Full Time MA Degrees in History & Archaeology

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A four-field approach is taken in the M.A. program, embracing Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology. Read more
A four-field approach is taken in the M.A. program, embracing Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology.

Visit the website: http://anthropology.ua.edu/programs/graduate-programs/masters-degree/

Course detail

Each student must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours. All students are required to complete satisfactorily a core curriculum composed of one graduate course in at least three of the four fields of anthropology:

- ANT 501 (Anthropological Linguistics);
- ANT 625 (Survey of the History of Archaeology);
- ANT 636 (Social Structure) or ANT 641 (Culture);
- and, ANT 670 (Principles of Physical Anthropology).

Additionally, a seminar in Research Methodology (ANT 600) is required.

These four core courses should be taken during the student’s first year in residence. Remaining credit hours are based on coursework in the student’s area of interest, and thesis hours for students taking the thesis option (see below).

Format and assessment

There are then three options for completing the degree. In a thesis option, the student writes a thesis based on original research. In the research paper option, the student either submits a paper for publication or presents a paper at a national meeting. In the non-thesis options, the student completes additional coursework. Any student interested in study beyond the master’s level should only take the thesis or research paper options.

All students must take and pass comprehensive examinations on their knowledge of the field of anthropology. The student will take three-hour written exams in at least three of the four subdisciplines. The selection of the three areas will be made in collaboration with the faculty advisor. All anthropology faculty will participate in composing the exam questions. The examinations are evaluated by the entire faculty of the department, and performance on the exam is certified by the student’s committee.


Entering students must provide evidence of having taken introductory-level courses in each of the four fields before taking the graduate courses. A student who has not had an introductory course may be required to take or audit the appropriate undergraduate course before enrolling in the graduate course.

Each student is required to demonstrate competency in either a foreign language or research skill (especially statistics).

How to apply: How to apply: http://graduate.ua.edu/prospects/application/

Fund your studies

Student Financial Aid provides comprehensive information and services regarding opportunities to finance the cost of education at The University of Alabama. We recognize that financial assistance is an important key to helping reach your educational and career goals. The financial aid staff is dedicated to making the financial aid process as straightforward as possible. Visit the website to find out more: http://financialaid.ua.edu/

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The joint MA degree in art history builds upon the combined resources of Alabama’s two premier institutions of higher learning. The University of Alabama and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Read more
The joint MA degree in art history builds upon the combined resources of Alabama’s two premier institutions of higher learning: The University of Alabama and The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

One Program, Two Campuses

Students enroll on one of the two campuses and take the majority of their courses on that campus, but they also take 6 hours of art history on the other campus and have access to the library holdings (including in the visual arts) of both campuses.

An art history symposium offered each year on alternating campuses provides the students in the program with an opportunity to present a formal paper in an informal setting. A highlight of our annual symposium is the visit by a renowned art historian who participates by meeting the students and discussing the papers.

After Graduation

The MA degree in art history is an appropriate terminal degree for positions that are open in museums, galleries, libraries, and archives, and in the fields of teaching at the junior college level. Graduates of the program have secured positions in area museums, including the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Arts and the Mobile Arts Museum, and as visual arts curators and teachers of art history in area colleges and universities, including Livingston College, Shelton State College, and Jefferson State College. Students interested in pursuing a teaching career at the University level are encouraged to continue their study of art history in a doctoral program; graduates of the joint MA program in art history have been accepted into the PhD programs of Rochester University, Emory University, Kansas University, and Florida State University.

Degree Requirements

The MA in art history requires completion of 24 semester hours in art history, a comprehensive exam, and a written thesis.


The MA requires 24 semester hours of art history coursework, of which 6 hours may be taken in a related field, such as history, religion, or anthropology. Courses are grouped into seven general areas: Early Modern (Renaissance and Baroque), 19th-century, Modern, Contemporary, American (including African American) and South Asian.* Students must identify a major area and a minor area.

A required course, ARH 550, Literature of Art, is offered once a year on alternating campuses. A maximum of 6 hours of 400-level courses may be taken for graduate credit. Students enrolled on The University of Alabama campus must take 6 hours of coursework at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

*Students may take classes in South Asian art, but it cannot be their major field.

Comprehensive Exam

A reading knowledge of French or German must be demonstrated before the student is eligible to take the comprehensive written exam. The language requirement may be satisfied either by completing both semesters of the graduate reading proficiency sequence offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Classics or by scheduling a written exam with the appropriate language area in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics.

The student who has completed 24 semester hours of graduate coursework and satisfied the language requirement is ready to be examined in a written comprehensive exam administered in the fall and spring semesters. The written comprehensive exam is divided into two parts: (1) a slide exam that tests the student’s broad knowledge of the history of Western art, and (2) an essay portion that tests for expertise in two fields of concentration.

The student must declare intent to take the exam in writing to the director of graduate studies in art history at least one month prior to the exam date. At that time an exam committee is formed that includes at least two art history professors from the Tuscaloosa campus and one art history professor from the Birmingham campus. The committee members represent the two areas of concentration declared by the student. The committee evaluates the written exam and notifies the candidate of the results. An exam must be judged to be of at least “B” quality in order to be considered a pass. A student who does not pass the exam may take it once more at the normally scheduled exam time.


The MA degree also requires a written thesis submitted to the Graduate School. In consultation with a professor, the student identifies a thesis topic. (Often, a thesis topic originates with a written seminar paper.) The thesis proposal is a brief statement of the topic for research, a summary description of the individual thesis chapters, and a working bibliography. The thesis advisor circulates the thesis proposal among the committee members for their approval. The thesis committee is usually but not always identical to the student’s exam committee. The student writes the thesis while enrolled in thesis hours (ARH 599) for up to 6 hours. When the thesis is completed to the satisfaction of the thesis advisor it is distributed to the thesis committee for comments. The final step in the completion of the thesis is the oral defense. In the oral defense the student justifies the methodology and the conclusions of the thesis to the committee.

The student must complete all of the required revisions and corrections to the thesis to the satisfaction of the committee before submitting the finished thesis to the Graduate School. The final written thesis must conform to the requirements of the Graduate School for it to be accepted. The student must provide an electronic copy of the thesis for The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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The Department of History at the University of Alabama offers MA programs in History. Award-winning and internationally recognized faculty serve graduate students in a program that provides opportunities for close mentorship and advising. Read more
The Department of History at the University of Alabama offers MA programs in History. Award-winning and internationally recognized faculty serve graduate students in a program that provides opportunities for close mentorship and advising. With a strong commitment to both research and teaching, as well as to the training of the next generation of historians, the faculty have published extensively, and are active participants in national historical organizations. Beyond teaching and research, our faculty are involved in numerous other activities. As a department, we have created the Summersell Center for the Study of the South, and participate in the College of Arts and Sciences Cuba Initiative with the University of Havana. Graduate students can attend workshops in European and American History, and The Southern Historian, an annual graduate journal, is published in-house. The Department of History offers a vibrant intellectual community in which to engage in graduate work.

Applicants who already hold an MA in History, earned in the last six years, are eligible to apply to our PhD program. All other applicants apply to our MA Program, described below.

There are two plans for earning an MA degree in History at the University of Alabama:

Plan I requires 24 credit hours in History, a thesis, and reading proficiency in one foreign language. There is an oral examination after the candidate has completed his or her thesis and course work.

Plan II requires 30 credit hours in History, four of them in a seminar course, and reading proficiency in one foreign language. In addition, students prepare a synthetic essay that reflects upon the historian’s craft and discusses which methods, historiographical fields, theoretical frameworks, specific works of history and/or individual scholars have contributed to the student’s understanding of history. In the final semester students undergo an oral examination on the revised seminar paper and the synthetic essay.

Most of our master’s students complete Plan II. In lieu of a formal master’s thesis, we emphasize producing a strong seminar paper involving original research, with the goal of publishing the seminar paper as an article in a professional journal.


All incoming MA students must take the History Colloquium (HY 665) in their first semester, a course that introduces students to the professional study of history. MA students must also take at least two Literature of the Field courses in different geographic areas, such as U.S., European, and/or Latin American. MA students who elect to follow Plan II must also take at least one research seminar.

Continuation to the PhD Program

Students who complete the MA in History at UA do NOT need to submit a written application for admission to the PhD program. Rather, they need to indicate to the Department their desire to be considered for continuation, and the Graduate Committee will then make a determination on continuation based on:

A review of the student’s full academic record
The input of the faculty member identified by the student as the potential dissertation director
A written evaluation produced by the MA exam committee following the exam

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