The New School for Social Research

Degree Programs

  • Degrees Offered

    The Committee on Historical Studies offers the MA degree only. Students who complete the requirements for the MA in Historical Studies (history) and wish to earn a PhD degree may apply for admission to the NSSR PhD in Politics or Sociology, with a specialization in Historical Studies. More detailed information about Committee on Historical Studies degree programs is published in the Committee on Historical Studies Curriculum Handbook, also available in the Committee on Historical Studies office at 80 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor. 

    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 schools of the university, as long as they are relevant to 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.

    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. 

    Admission to the Program in Historical Studies

    Persons wishing to enter the program must complete an application for admission and check the option of an MA in Historical Studies. 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. Admission to the doctoral specialization program requires a separate application and approval of the committee. 

    PhD in Politics or Sociology with a specialization in Historical Studies

    Students in their second year of study in a master of arts program in any of these three fields (or thereafter while still in residence) may apply for admission to an NSSR doctoral program. Acceptance is not automatic but is at the discretion of both the Committee on Historical Studies and the other department. Applicants must provide the following materials to the secretary of the Committee on Historical Studies: a letter of intent, explaining the applicant’s scholarly interests and rationale for including historical studies as part of advanced social scientific research; a transcript of coursework completed at The New School for Social Research; a three-page prospectus of the student’s plans for doctoral research (this is not a formal dissertation proposal); and, a letter of support from the student’s MA program faculty advisor. Note: Applicants must follow on a parallel track the specific application procedures for the acceptance to doctoral study in politics or sociology. Students whose applications for the PhD program have been accepted by both faculties must file a change of status petition with the Office of Academic Affairs of The New School for Social Research

    The aim of the PhD in Politics or Sociology with a specialization in Historical Studies is to provide integrated training in history and social science for scholars with strong interests in both fields. Students accepted for doctoral studies by both the Committee on Historical Studies and the other department must work closely with both faculty advisors to design a coherent program of study and prepare qualifying examinations that will cover their work in both fields. 

    PhD Program Requirements

    • A total of 60 credits must be completed (including the 30 credits required for the master of arts degree)
    • Students who earned the MA degree in a field other than historical studies must take the two core courses GHIS 6133 Historiography and Historical Practice and GHIS 6134 Historical Methods and Sources.

    A student must complete all the specific prerequisites to take the PhD qualifying examination in Politics or Sociology.

    Qualifying Examination: Students who have completed at least 42 credits including all required courses in both historical studies and their social science may petition to take the PhD qualifying examinations. Students must take one examination for CHS in addition to those required by the department. The form of the history examination will mirror the practice in Politics or Sociology as appropriate.

    The Doctoral Dissertation: Students who pass all parts of the qualifying examinations are invited to form a dissertation committee, which must include at least one member of the CHS faculty as either chair or second reader. Among other advising responsibilities, this committee member must determine whether the thesis substantively engages historical sources and methodology. Doctoral dissertations in these programs are expected to demonstrate primary source research, an extensive review of the scholarly literature, and the competent formulation and exposition of an intellectual problem. The dissertation must be approved by both the Committee on Historical Studies and the Social Science department for the PhD degree to be conferred.