All public history students must prepare a Master's thesis based on original primary research and complete a complimentary public history project. At the end of the first year, public history students will apply for candidacy on the basis of their thesis proposal as prepared in HIST 6693 (Historiography). The instructor of HIST 6693 and Director of Public History will then determine whether the student is sufficiently prepared to enter the thesis track. If deemed unprepared, students may be encouraged to pursue the traditional history track via the exam option, or to leave the program.
By the completion of HIST 6693 (generally the end of the first year), all thesis students must set up a Thesis Committee. This will consist of two graduate faculty members from the Department of History and a third member selected from History or another department. The advisor will be the primary instructor who oversees the student's thesis work, while second and third readers may offer advice and read some of the thesis, although they generally wait to read a completed thesis. All thesis students will meet with their full committees at least twice--first to defend their thesis proposal at the end of HIST 6693, and secondly to defend the completed thesis and project.
Anatomy of a Public History Thesis
These are merely offered as some general guidelines. Flexibility exists.
Part I. Historiography or Review of Literature (10-15 pages)
In addition to the seminar paper, the public history thesis must include a historiography of your topic. This will look much like the historiography chapters of your peers who are working on a traditional master’s thesis.
Part II. Scholarly essay (25-35 pages)
Any thesis in the master’s program must be based on original research and should add to the literature on the topic. This section will not only serve the purposes of the public history thesis, but would be an adequate writing sample should the student decide to pursue doctoral study. Finally, original scholarship is vital to the preparation of any historian, especially those who enter the field of public history.
Part III. Thesis Project
Students will develop a public history project in conjunction with their thesis topic. Students may develop a historic preservation project, an exhibit for a museum or historic site, a website or online resource for an organization, or a short video (though students are not limited to these choices). This project, which must be made available to the public, provides students with valuable experience in the practical application of scholarship, and prepares them to better serve the general public as they interpret that knowledge for a broad audience.