I. A (Very) Brief History of the Master's Degree

1. Philip L. Harriman, "The Master's Degree," Journal of Higher Education 9:1 (January 1938): 23–28; Richard J. Storr, The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953); Patricia J. Gumport, "Graduate Education and Organized Research on the United States," in The Research Foundations of Graduate Education, ed. Burton R. Clark (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), 225–60.

2. Robert J. Barak, "A Skeleton in the Closet," in The Master's Degree: Jack of All Trades, ed. Joslyn L. Green (Denver: SHEEO Association, 1987), 32. Barak goes on to quip that "Since the early years, … only the length of time required for the degree (now less) and the cost of the degree (now more) have changed."

3. Ephraim Emerton, "The Requirements for the Historical Doctorate in America," Annual Report of the AHA for the Year 1893 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894), 79.

4. John L. Snell, "The Master's Degree," in Graduate Education Today, ed. Everett Walters (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1965), 86, 88–89. Also see Dexter Perkins, John L. Snell et al., The Education of Historians in the United States (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962), 87–107.

5. For more details about this survey, see Philip M. Katz, "CGE's E-mail Survey Focuses on Challenges in Graduate Education," Perspectives 39:4 (April 2001): 11–15.

6. Clifton F. Conrad and David J. Eagan, "Master's Degree Programs in American Higher Education," in Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 6, ed. John C. Smart (1990), 107.

7. Among many other examples, see Alison Schneider, "Master's Degrees, Once Scorned, Attract Students and Generate Revenue," Chronicle of Higher Education, May 21, 1999, A12; Rosemary Lowe Hays-Thomas, "The silent conversation: Talking about the master's degree," Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 31:3 (June 2000): 339–45; Michael J. Giordano, "Revaluing the Master's Degree," PMLA 115:5 (October 2000): 1271–73; and Moheb A. Ghali, "Return of the Masters," CGS Communicator 35:7 (August–September 2002): 3–4, 6, 10.

8. Scott Smallwood, "Graduate studies in science expand beyond the Ph.D.," Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2001, A14–15; Council of Graduate Schools, "Professional Master's Program in the Social Sciences and Humanities: Request for Proposal," July 28, 2003, at, accessed on October 25, 2004. On the mixed results of this effort so far, see Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, "Poor job market blunts impact of new master's programs," Science 5634 (August 8, 2003): 752, and Judith Glazer-Raymo, "Trajectories for Professional Master's Education," CGS Communicator 37:2 (March 2004): 1–2, 5.

9. Burton Bollag, "European Higher Education Seeks a Common Currency," Chronicle of Higher Education, September 26, 2003, A52. Wolf Wagner, "The Bachelor's and the Master's Degrees: Higher Education Policy Under Wrong Assumptions," European Education 34:1 (spring 2002): 88–92, offers a critique of the degree structure in the United States, which has served as a model for many of the proposed European reforms.

10. Sally L. Casanova et al., "The Master's Degree, the Comprehensive University, and the National Interest," CGS Communicator 25:3–5 (March–May 1992): 1–5; Carol Olson and Milton A. King, "A Preliminary Analysis of the Decision Process of Graduate Students in College Choice," College and University 60:4 (summer 1985): 308.

11. David L. Angus with Jeffrey Mirel, Professionalism and the Public Good: A Brief History of Teacher Certification (Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 2001) is a useful introduction to the debates over certification, despite the authors' neoconservative animus against the schools of education. For one recent effort to reinvigorate the master's degree for teachers, see Peggy J. Blackwell and Mary Diez, Toward a New Vision of Master's Education for Teachers (Washington, D.C.: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 1998). Education researchers are deeply divided on the question of whether having a master's degree, in either an academic subject or in education, actually improves teaching and learning in the classroom; all they can agree upon is that the research is sketchy. See Dan Goldhaber, "The Mystery of Good Teaching," Education Next 2:1 (spring 2002): 50–55, which should be balanced (politically and methodologically) by Linda Darling-Hammond and Gary Sykes, "Wanted: A national teacher supply policy for education: The right way to meet the ‘Highly Qualified Teacher' challenge," Education Policy Analysis Archives 11:33 (September 17, 2003).

12. A precocious example can be found in "The Meeting of the American Historical Association at Chicago," American Historical Review 10:3 (April 1905): 498–501.

13. Peter T. Knight, ed., Masterclass: Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum in Taught Master's Degrees (London: Cassell, 1997), 3.

14. Carol Everly Floyd, "Balancing State and Institutional Interests to Enhance Master's Degree Programs," Planning for Higher Education 26:3 (spring 1998): 56–59; Kay J. Kohl and Jules B. LaPidus, "Postbaccalaureate Futures: Where Do We Go from Here?" in Postbaccalaureate Futures: New Markets, Resources, Credentials, ed. Kohl and LaPidus (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education/Oryx Press, 2000), 231–36.

II. The History Master's Degree: A Snapshot in Statistics

15. Projection of Education Statistics to 2013 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2003), 77; Laura G. Knapp et al., Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2002 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2001–02 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2003), Table C.

16. Digest of Education Statistics, 2002 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2003), Tables 246 and 268; Knapp, Postsecondary Institutions, Tables C and 21; Daniel Golden, "Quick Studies: Colleges Ease Way for Teachers to Get Advanced Degrees," Wall Street Journal (September 22, 2003): A1. Golden's analysis was based on degrees received in academic year 2000–01; the next year saw a slight decline in the number of minority students earning master's degrees in education.

17. Robert B. Townsend, "History Takes a Tumble in Degrees Conferred: New Data Shows Field Lagging Behind," Perspectives 41:7 (October 2003): 14–15, 59.

18. Townsend, "History Takes a Tumble," 14–15; Townsend points out that there have been "notable improvements" in the status of the history B.A. since 1998, but the decline since the early 1990s has been even more notable.

19. See Table 6 and Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities: Summary Report 2001 (Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, 2002), Appendix Table A-3.

20. Debra Stewart, "The Changing Landscape of Master's Education: Implications for Penn State," address delivered at Penn State University, October 3, 2001, 2, at, accessed on October 25, 2004. Also see Phaedra Brotherton, "Graduate degrees continue upward trend," Black Issues in Higher Education 18:11 (July 19, 2001): 45–49, and Peter Syverson, "The New American Graduate Student, Part II," CGS Communicator 35:5 (June 2002): 3, 7.

21. Page Melton, "What Does it Take to Get There?" Black Issues in Higher Education 20:10 (July 3, 2003): 30, quoting Peter Syverson from the Council of Graduate Schools.

22. Stephen Kulis, Heather Shaw, and Yinong Chong, "External Labor Markets and the Distribution of Black Scientists and Engineers in Academia," Journal of Higher Education 71:2 (March/April 2000): 211. They add that "[t]his seemingly modest goal will not be easily attained, however, given current trends in doctoral production..."

23. Also see Syverson, "New American Graduate Student," and Casanova et al., "The Master's Degree," 2.

24. A less optimistic scenario is that a continuing decline in the percentage of male students will eventually lead to the "feminization" of the historical profession, "which is frequently, if erroneously, assumed to signify a ‘decline in status' … typically translat[ing] into lower salaries and prestige." If so, "the historical profession must challenge such false associations and, more positively, emphasize the importance of the increased representation of previously (and still) underrepresented groups and their invigorating impact on the discipline." Thomas Bender, Philip M. Katz, and Colin Palmer, The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 31–32.

25. Here and elsewhere, we rely upon the National Center for Education Statistics count of master's degrees awarded, which includes the degrees awarded in six subfields (as defined by the 1990 Classification of Instructional Programs): "History, General" (45.0801), "American (United States) History" (45.0802), "European History" (45.0803), "History and Philosophy of Science and Technology" (45.0804), "Public/Applied History and Archival Administration" (45.0805), and "History, Other" (45.0899). However, we believe that these numbers represent a significant undercount, because they do not include degrees in the history of science, history education (even when awarded through a history department), some varieties of public history (such as historic preservation), and degrees in cognate fields or interdisciplinary fields that may rely heavily upon historical methods and be taught by historians (area studies, ethnic studies, church history, and so on).

26. Perkins and Snell, Education of Historians, 86–87.

27. Perkins and Snell, Education of Historians, 87. Another snapshot of master's-level education for historians in the 1950s can be found in J. F. Wellemeyer Jr., "Survey of United States Historians, 1952, and a Forecast," American Historical Review 61:2 (January 1956): 339–52.

28. American Historical Association, Directory of History Departments, Historical Organizations, and Historians, 2002–03 (Washington, D.C.: AHA, 2002); IPEDS Completions Survey for AY2000–01 (s.v. "History" and "History Teacher Education"), retrieved via the NSF WebCASPAR system on July 23, 2003; Peterson's Graduate and Professional Programs, vol. 2, Graduate and Professional Programs in the Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, 37th ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Peterson's, 2003); Educational Testing Service, Directory of Graduate Programs, vol. D, Directory of Graduate Programs in Arts & Humanities and Other Fields, 17th ed. (Princeton, N.J.: ETS, 1999); College Blue Book, vol. 3, Degrees Offered by College and Subject, 29th ed. (New York: MacMillan Reference, 2002); History of Science Society web site at, accessed on July 21, 2003; National Council on Public History, Guide to Graduate Programs in Public History (Indianapolis: NCPH, 2002).

29. Casanova et al., "The Master's Degree," 1–5. On the intense localism of the market for public-school teachers (which affects both the selection of an undergraduate college and the location of a teacher's first job), see Donald Boyd et al., "The Draw of Home: How Teachers' Preferences for Proximity Disadvantage Urban Schools," NBER Working Paper no. 9953 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2003).

30. The survey is described in more detail later in this report. Appendix 2 is a copy of the survey instrument.

31. Peter T. Knight, "Growth, Standards and Quality: The Case for Coursework Master's Degrees," Quality in Higher Education 3:3 (1997): 213.

32. See the Georgetown University history department's web site at, accessed on October 25, 2004. In fact, Georgetown awards about four Master of Arts degrees in history each year, according to the Department of Education.

III. Destinations and Desires

33. "Problems of the Master's Degree: Report of the Committee on the Master's Degree Presented to the Association of American Universities," Journal of Higher Education 7:5 (May 1936): 265.

34. Philip L. Harriman, "The Master's Degree," The Journal of Higher Education 9:1 (January 1938): 25–6. For the long persistence of this view, see Clifton Conrad, Jennifer Haworth, and Susan B. Millar, A Silent Success: Master's Education in the United States (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 314–17.

35. Theodore S. Hamerow, Reflections on History and Historians (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 94.

36. Harriman, "The Master's Degree," 23. Catharine R. Stimpson, dean of the graduate school at New York University, has offered a complementary argument about the desirability of more "general education for graduate education," which she sees as an antidote to the atomization inherent in most discipline-specific graduate training. Stimpson, "General Education for Graduate Education: A Theory Waiting for Practitioners," Peer Review 6:3 (spring 2004): 13–15.

37. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2002–03 Edition (s.v. "Social Scientists, Other"), at, accessed on October 25, 2004.

38. From a 1995 thread on the H-Teach electronic discussion list, archived at threads/phD-cut.html, accessed on October 25, 2004.

39. An earlier version of this section appeared as Philip M. Katz, "Another View of the Master's Degree: Institution-switching on the Way to a Ph.D.," Perspectives 42:1 (January 2004): 40–44.

40. Personal communication (e-mail) to Philip M. Katz, November 9, 2003. For a thoughtful analysis of the several reasons that students pursue a master's degree instead of a doctorate, see Tomme R. Actkinson, "Master's and Myth: Little-Known Information about a Popular Degree," Eye on Psi Chi 4:2 (winter 2000): 19–21, 23, 25, or at, accessed on October 25, 2004.

41. One historian who earned his Ph.D. in the early 1970s described a typical encounter with the master's degree in decades past: "[I never] actually … obtained an M.A. There was an opportunity to do so once one completed the Ph.D. qualifying exam but it involved walking all the way across campus to file a form and pay an extra fee; I just figured I would wait to do it until I washed out of the program and needed a degree of some sort; since I never did, I ended up without the master's degree."

42. Personal communication from Lance Selfa at NORC to Philip M. Katz, July 29, 2003.

43. The figures provided in Table 6 should be considered underestimates, because the analysis there does not account for non-responses on the survey or for students who earned their master's degrees from foreign institutions. If we only consider the new Ph.D.'s in history during the decade who were American citizens or permanent residents, then 85 percent earned a master's degree first (see Table 7, right-hand columns).

44. One study from 1990 suggests that black and Hispanic doctoral students are somewhat more likely than their white counterparts to have a master's degree in hand when they start a doctoral program. However, the analysis was based on a survey of students in a variety of fields at just four large public research universities. The data on historians from NORC, which is based on a small (and aggregated) sample, does not necessarily contradict this finding. See Michael T. Nettles, Black, Hispanic, and White Doctoral Students: Before, During, and After Enrolling in Graduate School (Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service, 1990), 9.

45. These figures only include Ph.D. recipients who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

46. S. Vining Brown et al., Research Agenda for the Graduate Record Examinations Board Minority Graduate Education Project: An Update (Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service, 1994), called for more "information on the pathways minority students take to and through graduate school to identify points at which large numbers of students may be lost. Are minorities who obtain doctorates more likely than White students to have … finished a master's degree before enrolling for a doctorate, and/or attended a master's only institution?" (46). The data on minority historians presented here offers a partial answer to their query, but more research is still needed.

47. The paucity of basic research in the area was confirmed by Anne J. MacLachlan, who heads an important research project on minority graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley; personal communication to Philip M. Katz, September 1, 2003.

48. Brotherton, "Graduate degrees continue upward trend," 46; Kulis et al., "External Labor Markets," quoted from the authors' abstract.

49. For a comparable discussion, see George H. Tucker and Lawrence V. Annis, "The Ideal Function of the Terminal Master's Degree Program for a Ph.D.-Pursuing Student," Professional Psychologist 12:3 (June 1981): 336–40.

50. Richard Hoffman (San Francisco State University), remarks at a "Forum on the Master's Degree in History," annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Seattle, January 7, 2005.

51. Craig McInnis et al., The Master's Degree by Coursework: Growth, Diversity and Quality Assurance (Canberra: Australian Government Printing Service, 1995), 70.

52. Leonard V. Koos, "Preparation for Community-College Teaching," Journal of Higher Education 21:6 (June 1950): 312. These paragraphs contain a very simplified account of the development of American community colleges; for a more sophisticated treatment that stresses both the diversity of community colleges and their continuous focus on preparing students for baccalaureate programs, see Steven Brint and Jerome Karabel, The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

53. Edward A. Gallagher, "Jordan and Lange: The California Junior College's Role as Protector of Teaching," Michigan Academician 27 (1994): 3; Earl Seidman, In the Words of the Faculty: Perspectives on Improving Teaching and Educational Quality in Community Colleges (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1985), 251–66. The very real need to improve history graduate students' preparation as classroom teachers is addressed throughout Bender et al., Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century.

54. Koos, "Preparation for Community-College Teaching," 316.

55. Jenny L. Lee, "University Reference Group Identification among Community College Faculty," in Charles L. Outcault, ed., Community College Faculty: Characteristics, Practices, and Challenges (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002), 21–28.

56. For the shifting demographics of community college teaching, I have relied primarily on Lee, "University Reference Group Identification"; Tronie Rifkin, "Public Community College Faculty" (n.d.), an issue paper prepared for the American Association of Community Colleges, at
, accessed on October 19, 2004; Kimberly Garcia, "Project Ph.D.: More Colleges Snagging Professors with Doctorates …," Community College Week, January 9, 2000; and Nadine I. Hata, ed., Community College Historians in the United States (Bloomington, Ind.: Organization of American Historians, 1999).

57. Rifkin, "Public Community College Faculty," n.p.; Lee, "University Reference Group Identification," 23.

58. Martin Finkelstein, "The Morphing of the American Academic Profession," Liberal Education 89:4 (fall 2003).

59. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this section are from public postings on the H-World electronic discussion list, archived at, accessed on October 26, 2004.

60. The two web sites were and the online edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, According to Howell, "Not all positions available were sampled. Major states like California, which often have local positions advertised only on by local advertising means, were visited to collect data from jobs not offered on the two national web sites. … However, it was not possible to visit all 50 states" (personal communication to Philip M. Katz, October 20, 2003). The data in this paragraph were kindly provided by Professor Howell and are reproduced with his permission, though he does not necessarily share in our conclusions.

61. Nadine I. Hata, "Perspectives on the Community College Job Market: What to Expect," in Community College Historians, ed. Hata, 56.

62. Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, "Community College Faculty," Black Issues in Higher Education 17:13 (August 17, 2003): 54; Illinois Board of Higher Education, Opportunities for Leadership: Strategies for Improving Faculty Diversity in Illinois Higher Education (April 2003), 12.

63. Hata, "Introduction," Community College Historians, 12. David Berry discussed the "coffin" of graduate curricula at a focus group of historians in New York City, May 13, 2003. Also see David S. Trask, "The Survey Course: The Specialty of the Community College Historian," in Community College Historians, ed. Hata, 43–48.

64. Diane Ravitch, "A Brief History of Teacher Professionalism," White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers, March 5, 2002, at, accessed on October 25, 2004; Marilyn McMillen Seastrom et al., Qualifications of the Public School Teacher Workforce: Prevalence of Out-of-Field Teaching, 1987–88 to 1999–2000 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2002), 58.

65. Education reformer G. Stanley Hall chose history as his inaugural topic for a series of volumes on pedagogy "because, after much observation in the schoolrooms of many of the larger cities in the eastern part of our country, the editor, without having a hobby about its relative importance or being in any sense an expert in history, is convinced that no subject so widely taught is, on the whole, taught so poorly." G. Stanley Hall, "Introduction," Methods of Teaching History, 2nd ed. (1884; rept. Boston, 1902, as vol. 13 of Heath's Pedagogical Library), ix. For a longer historical view, see Hazel Whitman Hertzberg, "The Teaching of History," in Michael Kammen, ed., The Past Before Us: Contemporary Historical Writing in the United States (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), 474–504, and Sam Wineburg, "Crazy for History," Journal of American History 90:4 (March 2004): 1401–14.

66. Michael Kirst and Andrea Venezia , "Bridging the Great Divide Between Secondary Schools and Postsecondary Education," Phi Delta Kappan 83:1 (September 2001): 92.

67. Arnita Jones, "Reforming History Education in the United States," Perspectives 41:7 (October 2003): 7–8. Unfortunately, very little of the grant money has been used to develop new curricula for master's degree programs.

68. For an example of this in one state, see: Mike Bowler, "Teachers Fear Social Studies is Becoming History; State Tests Are Cutting Time for Subject, They Say," Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2003, 1B, and "History and Social Studies Education in Maryland: A Cause for Concern" (April 22, 2003), at, accessed on October 25, 2004.

69. Peter Stearns, "Building Bridges Between Historians and Educators," Perspectives 41:5 (May 2003): 37–40.

70. Frank B. Murray, "Accreditation Reform and the Preparation of Teachers for a New Century," Wingspread Conference on New Teachers for a New Century, Racine, Wisc. (November 17–19, 1999), at, accessed October 26, 2004. "Alternative certification" is a typical response to concerns about an inadequate supply of qualified teachers, as the history of the Master of Arts in Teaching demonstrates. In times of lesser concern about the nation's classrooms, degrees in education (at both the undergraduate and master's levels) have reasserted their role as the primary training ground for teachers. See R. Baird Shuman, "An MAT Program to Meet Future Needs," Improving College and University Teaching 29:1 (winter 1981): 9–11, and Richard J. Coley and Margaret E. Thorpe, A Look at the MAT Model of Teacher Education and its Graduates: Lessons for Today (Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service, 1985).

71. See Robin R. Henke and Lisa Zahn, Attrition of New Teachers Among Recent College Graduates: Comparing Occupational Stability among 1992–93 Graduates Who Taught and Those Who Worked in Other Occupations (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Educational Statistics, 2001), iii, for a quick review of the literature on retirements and attrition among elementary and secondary teachers.

72. Angus, Professionalism and the Public Good, 2, 24, 34, and passim; for a more detailed look at recent trends in certifying history teachers, see "The Education and Certification of History Teachers: Trends, Problems, and Recommendations," ERIC Digest (ED422267), August 1998.

73. From a posting on the H-Teach electronic discussion list, October 4, 2003, archived at, accessed on October 25, 2004.

74. Daniel Golden, "Quick Studies," A1. Also see National Education Association, Status of the American Public School Teacher, 2000–2001 (Washington, D.C.: NEA, 2003), 78–79.

75. William V. Mayville, A Matter of Degree: The Setting for Contemporary Master's Programs (Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, 1972), 3–4.

76. See Sarah Drake Brown and John J. Patrick, "History Education in the United States: A Survey of Teacher Certification and State-Based Standards and Assessments for Teachers and Students," a report prepared for the AHA, National Council on the Social Studies, and Organization of American Historians (June 2003).

77. Golden, "Quick Studies."

78. Comment from the director of a secondary education program at a public university in New York, at the focus group of historians convened in New York City, May 13, 2003.

79. Personal communication (e-mail) to Philip M. Katz, November 9, 2003.

80. Anonymous responses to the AHA survey of master's degree students, spring 2003.

81. Personal communication (e-mail) to Philip M. Katz, September 4, 2003.

82. Donald Schwartz, "Using History Departments to Train Secondary Social Studies Teachers: A Challenge for the Profession in the 21st Century," History Teacher 34:1 (November 2000): 36.

83. Goldhaber, "Mystery of Good Teaching."

84. Andrew J. Wayne and Peter Youngs, "Teacher Characteristics and Student Achievement Gains: A Review," Review of Educational Research 73:1 (spring 2003): 107.

85. University of Delaware historian Raymond Wolters, quoted in James A. Whitson, "What Social Studies Teachers Need to Know: The New Urgency of Some Old Disputes," in Critical Issues in Social Studies Teacher Education, ed. Susan Adler (Greenwich, Conn.: Information Age Publishing, 2004), 11.

86. Epstein, "Past, Present, and Future," 29.

87. John Shedd, "Why and How Should History Departments Train Secondary Social Studies Teachers?" History Teacher 34:1 (November 2000): 30.

88. Alan Booth, "Rethinking the Scholarly: Developing the Scholarship of Teaching in History," Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 3:3 (October 2004): 247–66; Schwartz, "Using History Departments," 35–37.

89. Kathleen Medina et al., How Do Students Understand the Discipline of History as an Outcome of Teachers' Professional Development? (Davis, Calif.: California History-Social Science Project, 2000), 18–19, 8.

90. Based on a focus group discussion at the National Humanities Center, September 2003.

91. Suzanne M. Wilson, "Parades of Facts, Stories of the Past: What Do Novice History Teachers Need to Know?" in Teaching Academic Subjects to Diverse Learners, ed. Mary M. Kennedy (New York: Teachers College Press, 1991), 110.

92. For a useful introduction to this growing body of literatures see Keith C. Barton, "Research on Students' Historical Thinking and Learning," Perspectives 42:7 (October 2004): 19–21, and Terrie Epstein, "The Past, Present, and Future of Research on History Education," Education Researcher 32:4 (May 2003): 29–32.

93. From a response to the AHA survey of history department chairs, February 2001.

94. "Benchmarks for Professional Development in Teaching of History as a Discipline," Perspectives 41:5 (May 2003): 41–44, available online at Also see the Teaching Division's "Advice to History Departments on NCATE Review of Teacher Preparation Programs" (2002), at

95. "Report of the Third Conference on American History Held under the Auspices of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, February 2 and 3, 1950," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 74:2 (April 1950): 247–48.

96. On the development of public history as a subdiscipline see Barbara J. Howe, "State of the State of Teaching Public History," Teaching History 18:2 (fall 1993): 51–58, and James B. Gardner and Peter S. LaPaglia, eds., Public History: Essays from the Field (Malabar, Fla.: Krieger, 1999).

97. Quoted in Bender et al., 68. The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century both documents and condemns this narrow view of graduate training and the profession. Also see the recent report of the AHA Task Force on Public History, "Public History, Public Historians, and the American Historical Association," available online at

98. See Appendix 1 and Arnita A. Jones, "Clio Confronts Adam Smith: A Survey of National Trends in the Adjustment of Training Programs for Historians," OAH Newsletter 6 (January 1979): insert.

99. An earlier version of this section appeared as Philip M. Katz, "Public History Employers—What Do They Want? A Report on the Survey," Perspectives 41:6 (September 2003): 35–38, which describes the survey methodology in more detail.

100. A few graduate programs in public history did receive consistently high marks: Arizona State University, Middle Tennessee State University, the Cooperstown program in museum studies (part of the State University of New York system), the Winterthur program in Delaware, the University of South Carolina, and the historical administration program at Eastern Illinois University.

101. There is a substantial overlap here with the "elements of mastery" discussed in the next section of the report.

IV. Where Is the Mastery in the Master's Degree? Common Knowledge, Skills, and Identities for History Professionals

102. An earlier version of this section appeared as Philip M. Katz, "Where Is the Mastery in the History Master's Degree?" Perspectives 41:8 (November 2003): 24–27.

103. Richard James and Craig McInnis, "Coursework Master's Degrees and Quality Assurance: Implicit and Explicit Factors at Programme Level," Quality in Higher Education 3:2 (1997): 108–109. For a more general statement about the poor state of assessment in higher education, see Richard J. Stiggins, "Assessment Literacy for the 21st Century," Phi Delta Kappan 77:3 (November 1995): 238–45.

104. Peter T. Knight, "Learning, Teaching and Curriculum in Taught Master's Courses," in Knight, Masterclass, 8.

105. Floyd, "Balancing State and Institutional Interests," 57–58.

106. Pauline Thorne, "Standards and Quality in Taught Master's Programmes," in Knight, Masterclass, 27.

107. Joslyn L. Green, "A Cri de Coeur—And Questions to Consider," in The Master's Degree: Jack of All Trades, ed. Green (Denver: SHEEO Association, 1987), 55.

108. Mary Selke, "The Professional Development of Teachers in the United States of America: the practitioners' master's degree," European Journal of Teacher Education 24:2 (2001): 210, 206.

V. Defining a Distinctive Role for the Master's Level in History

109. Knight uses the term "masterness" in a headnote on p. 16 of Masterclass.

110. Mary Ann E. Borchert, Master's Education: A Guide for Faculty and Administrators—A Policy Statement (Washington, D.C.: Council of Graduate Schools, 1994), 30–31. The CGS also funded the most thorough review available of master's programs: Conrad, Haworth, and Millar's A Silent Success. Conrad and his co-authors take a much more sophisticated approach, distinguishing four basic types of master's programs: Ancillary programs (i.e., master's degrees earned on the way to the Ph.D.), Career Advancement programs, Apprenticeship programs, and Community-centered programs. Each type has its own cluster of goals.

111. Thorne, "Standards and Quality," esp. 17–20; on the tyranny of the credit hour in general, see Jane V. Wellman and Thomas Ehrlich, eds., How the Student Credit Hour Shapes Higher Education: The Tie That Binds (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). However, Kohl and LaPidus argue in Postbaccalaureate Futures that "the quality measure in postbaccalaureate education is shifting from credit, or time spent in class, to competency" (232).

112. These arguments were suggested by Noel Stowe, chair of the history department at Arizona State University, during a roundtable discussion of master's education at the annual meeting of the National Council for Public History, Houston, April 27, 2003.

113. Joyce V. Lawrence, "The Additive Fallacy and an Added Concern," in Green, The Master's Degree, 28–29.

114. Harriman, "The Master's Degree," 24, quoting Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell. In 2003, we heard similar complaints during our focus groups with historians.

115. Mark C. Henrie, "Finding and Following the Core," in Choosing the Right College 2004, ed. Jeremy Beer (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2003), xxiv.

116. Casanova et al., "The Master's Degree," 2.

117. The practical difficulties in applying a generic set of standards to particular academic programs are discussed in Harvey Woolf et al., "Benchmarking Academic Standards in History: an empirical exercise," Quality in Higher Education 5:2 (July 1999): 145–54. The authors describe the efforts by an informal consortium of history departments in the United Kingdom to define performance measures for both graduate and undergraduate degree programs. They conclude that "whatever methods [are] used … the whole process of establishing standards is subtle, organic, and opaque … [and] many of the informal methods of setting commonly-agreed standards that were used when group sizes were smaller [are] no longer viable or sufficient" (151). In their view, the process of defining performance standards was ultimately more useful than applying the benchmark standards to assess the quality of individual programs.

118. Lee S. Shulman, "Making Differences: A Table of Learning," Change 34:6 (November/December 2002): 36–44; quoted here from the online version at, accessed October 15, 2004.

119. As E. H. Carr noted long ago in What Is History? (New York: Vintage, 1961), "The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which is very hard to eradicate" (10).

120. My thanks to Linda Shopes, chair of the AHA Task Force on Public History, for reminding me of this fact.

121. Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen, The Persistence of the Past: The Popular Uses of History in American Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); Barton, "Research on Students' Historical Thinking and Learning."

122. The phrase "past specialists" comes from Dipesh Chakrabarty, keynote address to the annual meeting of the World History Association, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 29, 2001.

123. Personal communication from Keith Barton (University of Cincinnati) to Philip M. Katz.

124. As Harvard historian Wilbur Cortez Abbott, a member of the AHA Committee on the Writing of History, wrote back in 1926, there are "there are plenty of [graduate] courses in ‘historical method,' in ‘analysis and criticism,' in ‘problems,' in all the scientific side of historical work, [but] there are to be found few or none on the side of presentation. … The whole stress has been laid too much on information and on methods of investigation, too little on presentation." Abbott, "The Influence of Graduate Instruction on Historical Writing," in Jean Jules Jusserand et al., The Writing of History (New York: Scribner's, 1926), 46–7.

125. Personal communication from Richard Rabinowitz (American History Workshop) to Philip M. Katz, September 30, 2003.

VI. Unanswered Questions

126. As one expert lamented in the late 1980s, "a search of the literature yields many publications on graduate education, but precious few on the master's degree" (Barak, "A Skeleton in the Closet," 33). Little has changed since then.

127. Judith S. Glazer, "Toward a New Paradigm," in Green, The Master's Degree, 10.

128. Richard James and Craig McInnis, "Coursework Master's Degrees and Quality Assurance," 101.

129. Oili-Helena Ylijoki, "Master's Thesis Writing from a Narrative Approach," Studies in Higher Education 26:1 (2001): 22; Ada Demb and Kelly Funk, "What Do They Master? Perceived Benefits of the Master's Thesis Experience," NACADA Journal 19:2 (fall 1999): 20.

130. Naama Sabar, "Toward Principled Practice in Evaluation: Learning from Instructors' Dilemmas in Evaluating Graduate Students," Studies in Educational Evaluation 28:4 (2002): 330–31, 339.

131. James and McInnis, "Coursework Master's Degrees and Quality Assurance," 106; Knight, Masterclass, 11–12.

132. Clifton F. Conrad, Katherine M. Duren, and Jennifer Grant Haworth, "Students' Perspectives on Their Master's Degree Experiences: Disturbing the Conventional Wisdom," in The Experience of Being in Graduate School, ed. Melissa S. Anderson (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 65–76.

133. From a posting on the H-World electronic discussion list, October 9, 2003, archived at, accessed on October 25, 2004.

Appendix 3

1. The National Park Service established "essential competencies" for the agency's historians at three levels: Entry, Developmental, and Full Performance (roughly equivalent, in terms of academic preparation, to a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and a doctorate). Only the competencies from the Developmental Level are reproduced here. A few competencies that refer exclusively to policies and procedures at the NPS have been deleted. See for the complete document.

Appendix 4

1. See, accessed on February 18, 2005.

2. See fachandbook.htm, accessed on September 4, 2003.

3. See, accessed on May 2, 2003.

Appendix 5

1. Joint Quality Initiative Group, "Shared ‘Dublin' descriptors for the Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral awards" (revised March 23, 2004), online at Draft Dublin Descriptors 3 cycles.doc, accessed on June 25, 2004; an earlier version, without the doctoral descriptors, appears in the Graz Reader (prepared for the European University Association conference on "Strengthening the Role of Institutions," convened in Graz, Austria, on May 29–31, 2003), 56–59, online at

2. Julia González and Rober Wagnenaar, Tuning Educational Structures in Europe: Final Report, Phase One (Bilbao and Groningen: University of Deusto and University of Groningen, 2003), 147–59, online at index.htm.