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MA in Historical Studies

Course Description

History is a field of inquiry critical to all human understanding. The New School for Social Research seeks to bring historians together with social scientists and philosophers to produce critical histories of the present. It recognizes that historical inquiry has transformative potential for interpretation and theory in the social sciences. Its mission is to rejuvenate the empirically based social sciences with humanities-inspired, linguistically informed, and pictorially sympathetic approaches. The committee aims to provide The New School for Social Research with an archive and a perspective on the world that works “from the outside in.”

The Committee on Historical Studies (CHS) was founded on the conviction that the social sciences, public discussion of contemporary problems, and policymaking all become richer and more effective when joined with historical analysis; that practicing social scientists who want to work with history should learn to use historians’ standard materials and methods; and that the theories and methods of the social sciences strengthen historical research. This belief continues to guide the pedagogical and research programs of Historical Studies at The New School.

CHS was founded in the mid-1980s by Charles Tilly, Louise Tilly, Aristide Zolberg, and Ira Katznelson. Its premise is that history is a field of inquiry critical to all human understanding and that The New School for Social Research is a natural place for historians, philosophers, and social scientists to come together to develop theoretically informed and critical approaches to historical questions.

MA in Historical Studies
The MA in historical studies is awarded for successful completion of 30 credits, including two required core courses, and completion of an acceptable master’s thesis. At least 18 of the required credits must be for courses listed or cross-listed in Historical Studies. The other 12 credits could be earned by taking courses offered by other departments of The New School for Social Research or other divisions of the university, as long as they are relevant to the the historical studies program. Students who contemplate advancing to a PhD program must take care to use their electives to meet the prerequisites for acceptance to the PhD program in Politics or Sociology respectively.

All students must take a linked pair of seminars in their first year that will orient them to the discipline:
- GHIS 6133 Historiography and Historical Practice
- GHIS 6134 Historical Sources and Methods

The historical studies program is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study, including the writing of the thesis. Part-time study is permitted. A student who expects to study part-time should consult with a department advisor about a timetable for completion of the degree requirements. Students are expected to attend the committee’s public seminars, conferences, and lectures and other activities.

The Master’s Thesis: After completing at least 18 credits, including both required courses, students may submit a proposal for a master’s thesis to their faculty advisor. The thesis is normally an original paper based on primary research written in the form of an article prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. It must reference both primary and secondary historical sources and should be between 40 and 60 double-spaced pages (65 pages is the maximum allowed). Students working on a thesis register for Independent Study under the supervision of the thesis advisor. The completed MA thesis must be submitted for review by two faculty members of the Committee on Historical Studies; the deadlines are April 1 for May graduation and November 15 for January graduation. MA theses that are found unsatisfactory may be revised and resubmitted.

Entry Requirements

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited American college or university, or the equivalent degree from a foreign college or university. The New School for Social Research’s MA program has been particularly attractive to students who wish to become more broadly educated historians or more historically informed social scientists.

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