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Handbook for New Graduate Students

Introduction to Graduate Study

Welcome to the Graduate History Program. You probably would not be reading this unless you have been admitted to our program so, congratulations. This handbook should answer most of your questions about your future here, including exactly what is required to earn a degree and how to go about doing it in chronological order. This Handbook answers the questions most graduate students ask. It contains the essential information you need to graduate. For any questions you may have that are not answered here check these other sources:

  • The History Department Graduate Student Wall – The wall outside the History Graduate Coordinator’s office offers clear information on a number of topics.
  • Across from the Wall is the History Graduate Coordinator’s office – Please ask me any questions you have on our program or your progress. As the Graduate Coordinator I am your first semester advisor and your default advisor for the rest of your time here.
  • The History Department website – for such things as faculty bios, events, and links to forms.
  • The Boise State Graduate Catalog – a big book of all graduate programs – available online or a print copy available in the History Department.
  • The Boise State Graduate College website – for more links to forms and general information on how to format MA theses for the proper look and style.   They have many resources.  The graduate student success center is of great help and is often necessary.
  • Registrar’s website for academic calendar – when things must be done by or else!!

Advising: The Graduate Coordinator (David Walker as of 2019) will be your official advisor for your time here. My role is to keep track of your status, your paperwork, and answer all your questions about forms and deadlines leading towards graduation. In your second semester you will choose a supervisory committee chair for your thesis/project/portfolio committee. That faculty member will become your mentor for all things intellectual and they will advise you on your courses and your thesis/project/portfolio. They will be your primary mentor.

I wish you good luck – and don’t hesitate to ask me questions. Be assured, we will chart your progress. As a department we want you to graduate and have deliberately created a program that fosters a sense of camaraderie. As a group you will constitute a “cohort” – such as the cohort of 2019 – that can help each other move forward. The faculty genuinely wants to see and hear from you. Talk to us, and especially me, if you have questions or concerns. See also the “Final Thought on Graduate School and Graduating” at the end of the handbook.

David Walker
Associate Professor of Military History
History Graduate Coordinator
Office L187 in the History Department

Credit Requirements to graduate by Cohort/Academic Year.

Whichever cohort year you started has specific requirements to graduate as stated in the Graduate College catalog.  The credits you accumulate will be assessed according to the academic year you started.

Cohort 2020 — Academic Year 2020-2021

Cohort 2019 — Academic Year 2019-2020

Cohort 2018 — Academic Year 2018-2019

Cohort 2017 — Academic Year 2017-2018

Cohort 2016 — Academic Year 2016-2017

Cohort 2015 — Academic Year 2015-2016

A Synopsis of History Graduate Coursework – or what classes you can expect to take

Types of Classes

  • History 500: The Nature of History – In this class you will develop your topic for your thesis/project/portfolio and write a Bibliographic analysis.  The class also heavily explores the philosophy of history where every student is encouraged to develop their own. This class is required for all MA students.
  • History 501: Research Methodology – In this class you will write a major research paper based upon primary sources and will be introduced to advanced research methods. This course is required for all MA students.
  • History 502: Applied Historical Research. History 502 is a seminar on the use and abuse of history in nonacademic settings. Potential topics include the application of historical thinking and methods in foreign policy, business history, city planning, historic preservation, environmental assessment, library and archives, historic sites, and museums. This course is required for MA students.
  • History 580 Topics in European History; History 581 Topics in American History; History 582 Topics in Non-Western History, Graduate Seminars: Courses with these numbers will nearly always be combined graduate/undergraduate courses.  In these cases, you will be required to do work appropriate to graduate study.
  • History 585 Selected Topics: Themes in History:This class is reserved for graduate students only.  The topics are usually global in nature, so can be applicable to students specializing in a variety of areas so it provides the supreme learning environment.
  • History 590: Internships are available, and can be of immense value, depending upon your track and your field of study.  See the internship coordinator if you are interested.  MA students may take up to 9 and Public History students may take up to 12 credits in internships.  You may register for internship credit until the sixth week of the semester.
  • History 591/592/593: Project/Portfolio/Thesis credits.  While working on your thesis, portfolio or project, you will sign up for three-to-six thesis, portfolio or project credits.  Ideally, a student will enroll for these credits after having successfully defended a project/portfolio/thesis prospectus (see below). There is no class time or coursework involved in these credits.  When you finish your thesis, portfolio or project, you will receive a grade of pass or fail for these credits.  Prior to taking these credits, you must fill out and submit the “Application for Graduate Thesis/Portfolio/Project” when signing up for their respective credits.  Know that you must be registered for at least one of these types of credits during the semester in which you hope to graduate.
  • History 594: Workshops focus on particular and limited themes and methodological approaches to history.  They are run in seminar style.  In the past, workshops have been offered on oral history, archives, and other similar topics.
  • History 595: Readings and Conference. In this class you will read extensively on a relatively narrow topic and discuss the readings weekly or biweekly with the professor. This course enables you to work on themes/topics that are not ordinarily covered by regular departmental course offerings.  Feel free to approach a member of the department about arranging a Readings and Conference; you and the professor will fill out the appropriate form available on the History website.  Please be aware that in any given semester, a professor, depending on his/her workload, may not be able to offer such a course.  You may register for Readings and Conference credit until the sixth week of the semester.
  • History 596: Directed Research is also an independent study course, but you will undertake a research project with a member of the department.  It also requires you to complete a contract, and also is subject to the availability of the professor you wish to work with.  History 596 may not be used for work on your thesis. You must register for Directed Research credit by the tenth day of the semester.
  • History 597: Special Topics and History 598: Seminar are rarely offered, but are traditional courses with standard historical content.

Courses outside of history

If you wish to incorporate related courses from an outside field into your program of study, you may take up to nine credits in that field. Consult with your advisor or supervisory committee chair. You may have to discuss it with the instructor in the class first in order to get permission to attend.

Additionally, and related to this: One member of your committee may also come from the non-history field. You must gain the approval of the chair of your committee first.


In the graduate program at Boise State University, traditional undergraduate grades take on slightly new meanings.  Whereas as an undergraduate, you could probably receive a “C,” “D,” or “F” grade without unbearable consequences, in the graduate program they can be catastrophic.

  • An “A,” as always, indicates excellent work and excellent academic progress. A “B” indicates good work and good academic progress.
  • If you are only taking one course in a semester, you need to earn a “B” or better so as not to fall below the Graduate College’s required semester GPA of a 3.0.
  • “C” grades have negative consequences, because you cannot graduate with a GPA below 3.0. Both the Graduate College and the History Department monitor your GPA. If your semester GPA falls below 3.0 twice, or you receive two “Cs” in required courses listed on the AAC during your tenure, you will be withdrawn from the program. One “C” will result in probation. For students accepted provisionally, and already in a probationary state, one “C” could mean dismissal from the program.
  • “D” grades are worse, of course. You may retake a course in which you received a “D” at the next available opportunity (which may not come for two or more years).  If you do not raise your grade to a “B” or better during the first retake attempt, you will be removed from the program.
  • Receipt of an “F” in any graduate course will result in your immediate removal from the program.
  • Incompletes are not given to graduate students except in extreme cases. If you receive an incomplete, you might not be allowed to register for courses for the following semester; the incomplete must be then replaced with a letter grade for you to continue graduate work.

The Process of Completing a Master’s Degree (Including the dreaded forms to fill out in chronological order)

A general timeline (assuming full time status and a fall entrance)

First semester: take History 500 and complete “Program Development form” (ideally in the week before the start of the semester).   You do not need to form your committee during the first semester.  Think about and develop a topic or theme for your thesis/project/portfolio.  Also take History 502 and History 585 (Highly recommended).  Get your bearings and get to know your “cohort.” There will be activities in furtherance of this.

Winter Break –  Take a break – you won’t get one again.

Second semester: take History 501 and start developing your Supervisory Committee and Thesis/Project/Portfolio proposal. Submit your supervisory committee form. Plan on what research you might do over the summer.  Apply for travel funds to travel for research.  Begin writing a little. Complete thesis/project/portfolio form.

Summer: do primary source research.

Third semester: Required to have a meeting with the Graduate Coordinator to check in on your progress in a formal sense.  Complete Application to Candidacy form; Perhaps finish coursework and begin serious writing of your thesis/portfolio/project.

Winter Break:  Probably need to work over the winter break if you want to graduate in the spring semester.

Fourth semester: Apply to graduate!!!  Don’t forget that!!!  Complete thesis/portfolio/project. Thesis students notify the Graduate College of your defense date at least two weeks in advance. Thesis students upload their thesis and paperwork to Grad College (several forms).

Basic Set of Forms that must be submitted in chronological order

These are the basic set of forms you will need to fill out in order to successfully navigate your graduate experience.  Some are paper and some are electronic.  They are available either on the History Department’s or the Graduate College’s web page.  You must keep copies of all forms.  There are other specialized forms but those are filled out on a case by case basis if necessary.

  • Program Development Form  — This is an history department paper form and will be filled out in concert with the History Department Graduate Coordinator (Prof. Walker) before – or during the first two weeks – of your first semester.
  • Appointment of Supervisory Committee  — This is a graduate school electronic form to be filled out during your second semester (generally as part of History 501).  This establishes your Masters committee including the committee chair who will become your chief advisor.
  • Thesis/Project/Portfolio Proposal Application and Defense.  This form is an history department form that will document that your committee has approved your proposal for a Thesis, Portfolio, or Project and you have the green light to move forward.  You will prepare the proposal during your second semester during History 501 and defend the proposal soon after when your committee chair decides the proposal is ready to defend in front of the full committee.
  • Application for Admission to Candidacy – This form is a Graduate College electronic form checking to see you are on course.  It is filled out after you have completed at least 18 credits of graduate work.  We recommend you fill it out as soon as you have the 18 credits which should be after one year of full time graduate work.
  • Defense Notification  — This is a Graduate College electronic form that must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of your thesis defense (it’s only for MA thesis students).  Portfolio and Public History students do not need to do this.
  • Graduate Student Graduation Application – This form must be filled out at the beginning of the semester you plan to graduate. This form is submitted electronically.  Certificate Students do not need further forms.
  • Defense Committee Approval  — This paper form will be signed by your full committee after successfully (We all hope) defending your Thesis, Project, or Portfolio.   If you defended a Thesis this form is turned in to the Graduate College (in person or via electronic upload) – with a copy to the History Department.  If you defended a Project or Portfolio this form is turned in only to the History Department.

Depending on what you are MA Thesis, Public History, or MA Portfolio the following forms are submitted:

THESIS STUDENTS:  upload your thesis and supporting documents to the Graduate College.

You will submit them to the Graduate College through their portal ProQuest ETD located at the Graduate Student Success Center

Go to the tab “Thesis and Dissertation Information”

You will see two links: 1) “Submission Information” and 2) “Thesis and Dissertation Required Supporting Documents List.”

  • “Submission Information” is the link to the portal where all your uploading occurs. It gives you “Initial Document Upload Instructions.” In those instructions they will ask you to fill out some information, upload your thesis and defense committee approval form, (Even if you already sent it to them earlier) and then submit further supporting documents.
  • Look at the second link to see the list of further supporting documents under the section: “Forms to Include at the Time You Upload the Advisor-Approved Copy of Your Thesis or Dissertation.”

The documents you must have are:

Public History Students:

  1. Final Reading Approval Form — This form will be signed by your Committee Chair after you have made final corrections to your Project.  If it is a Thesis you turn this form in to the Graduate College.  Turn this form into the History Department.
  2. ScholarWorks Authorization for a Selected Graduate Project. This form allows for the written portion of your project to be made public through ScholarWorks (administered through Albertson’s Library). Turn this form in to the Albertsons Library

Portfolio Students:

  1. Final Reading Approval Form  — This form will be signed by your Committee Chair after you have made final corrections to your Portfolio.  If it is a Thesis you turn this form in to the Graduate College.  Turn this form into the History Department.

Certificate Students: No further forms are required


Program Status, Funding, Extensions, etc.