Published Date

February 1, 2005

From Retrieving the Master’s Degree from the Dustbin of History (2005)

Dear Colleague:

As you may know, the American Historical Association recently launched a major investigation of the master’s degree for historians. This comes on the heels of a related study of doctoral training. It is the first time in decades that the AHA has examined the master’s degree in any detail. We know that four times as many master’s degrees as Ph.D.’s are awarded each year—but beyond that we know surprisingly little about this important degree, or even about the students who are pursuing their master’s degrees.

In the months ahead, the AHA’s Committee on the Master’s Degree will be looking at five broad issues: the definition and function(s) of a master’s degree in history; the intellectual content and standards of mastery appropriate to the degree; the occupational opportunities provided by a history M.A., especially for bringing new (or underrepresented) groups into the profession; the role of master’s degree programs in promoting interdisciplinary studies; and the role and function of the master’s in preparing history teachers. At the conclusion of the project, a report to the historical profession will summarize the data collected, present a typology of master’s degree programs, and offer some preliminary guidelines for the content of a master’s degree in history. For more details, please visit the AHA website.

Below is a series of questions about the experience of graduate students in master’s degree programs. Some of the questions address intellectual issues in the discipline of history; others address social and/or economic matters. All responses to this query will be STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL (only the chair of the AHA’s Committee on the Master’s Degree and its research director will see the raw responses). It would be a great help, therefore, if you can provide the demographic information requested in part I. This will allow us to draw more general conclusions from your individual comments. We deeply appreciate your counsel and your candor.

Please respond by MAY 21, 2003, whether by e-mail, surface mail, or fax. And please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns about this survey or about any other aspect of the AHA’s investigation.

Thank you,

Philip M. Katz
Research Director,
AHA Committee on the Master’s Degree

Next section: Appendix 3