History M.A. FAQs


The History Department application procedures indicate I need to submit GRE scores. What are these?

The GRE is the Graduate Record Examination. It is one method that the history department uses to evaluate your preparation and readiness for graduate-level work. The GRE General Test consists of three parts — Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The history department at Western does not require students to take a subject test, only the general test. For more information about the examination, preparation, and scheduling please visit the GRE website at http://www.ets.org/gre/

Do History graduate students have a study area on campus?

Yes. MA students may use HL 312 as a shared study room. MA Students will comply with the agreement between the history department and library regarding the use of this study room. .


When do I need to meet with an advisor?
Each term History MA students will meet with their academic advisor to plan for the next term and to update their program plan. A complete copy signed by the student and academic advisor must be on file at the time students apply for graduation. Students should select an academic advisor with whom they work in their primary field.

How do I apply for graduation from the M.A. program in History?

The Office of Graduate Studies at Western requires students to apply for graduation in the term prior to the term in which they wish to graduate. Students submit an application for graduation form to the Graduate Programs office. The form is available here as a pdf: https://wou.edu/provost/graduate/documents/Website/Application%20for%20Completion%20of%20a%20Masters%20Degree.pdf 


How do I apply, prepare for and complete comprehensive examinations?
History MA must notify the History Department Graduate Coordinator in writing to request scheduling of comprehensive examinations for a particular term. The History Department does not offer comprehensive exams in a term in which the student is taking coursework. Comprehensive exams may be taken in Fall, Winter, or Spring terms. The Department does not offer the comprehensive exams during the summer term.

Scheduling written examinations

Students will work with the History M.A. Graduate Coordinator to arrange the time and date of the written examinations. Students must complete both their written and oral comprehensive examinations no later than two weeks before the end of the term in order to graduate that term. The History M.A. Graduate Coordinator will send each student a notice of the date and time scheduled for the comprehensive written exam at least one week prior to the date of the exam, and students must confirm, in writing, receipt of this information and their intention to participate no later than the day before the date for which the exam is scheduled.

Faculty invited to offer questions in areas of expertise based on student program
Students, by enrolling in courses that the graduate faculty offer, build a program that includes a primary field and a secondary field. Courses listed on the student’s program plan as primary and secondary field courses are eligible for the comprehensive exams. Faculty who have taught those courses are authorized to offer questions addressing the field of the student’s program for which they are responsible.

Exam questions are intended to examine the student’s preparation in the field for which the faculty offered coursework. The questions are not necessarily restricted to the specific material covered in the particular course(s) in which the student enrolled. Students preparing for the comprehensive exams, therefore, should schedule a meeting with each member of their examining committee to discuss what they should do to prepare for the exams, and to discuss the general scope of the questions that they will be expected to answer. Regardless of how faculty construct the questions that they offer, that professor may offer no more than two questions for the written portion of the comprehensive exams for that particular graduate student.


The History M.A. Graduate Coordinator will compile the written exam in consultation with the student’s primary area advisor of record, using questions offered by members of the examining committee. Questions will be grouped into two separate sections of the exam: primary area questions and secondary area questions. The exam will be structured to reflect the general ratio of coursework in which the student enrolled in each area. This means that students should expect to answer more questions from faculty with whom they took a greater number of courses, and fewer questions from those with whom they took a smaller number of courses.


Students will report to the Social Science Division Office (HSS 231) to begin their exams at the time scheduled by pre-arrangement with the History M.A. Graduate Coordinator. Students will write their exams on a secure computer in the Division office, following the time constraints and other guidelines specified in the exam at the time they report to the division office to begin the exam.


Students will answer a total of seven questions on the written exam, which will be structured so as to allow for a response time of approximately one question per hour. Students will complete the written exam within one day, including a 4-hour primary area section, a 1-hour break for lunch, and a 3-hour secondary area section.
MA students in History may receive one of the following scores:

  • With Distinction
  • Above Average
  • Average
  • Failing

Students who fail the written portion of the comprehensive examination will be required to retake one or both areas of the exam, at the discretion of their examining committee, before they will be allowed to proceed to the oral portion of the comprehensive exams.


In order to qualify for a re-take of any portion of the written exam, the student must first secure permission for the retake from their primary area advisor, the History M.A. Graduate Coordinator, and the director of graduate programs at Western Oregon University. This clearance process will require the student to meet individually with each signer, and the primary area advisor and History M.A. Graduate Coordinator also may require meetings with other members of the examining committee before authorizing the student to proceed further with the clearance process. There will be one retake allowed for the written portion of the exam.

Oral Examinations

Upon receiving notification that the student has successfully completed the written portion of the exam, the student’s primary area advisor will work with the History M.A. Graduate Coordinator to schedule the oral examination. The oral may last for up to two hours and will be scheduled accordingly. The oral will have the same grading scale as for written examinations.


May I have library access during comprehensive examination term or term of non-enrollment?
The History Department does not require students to pay tuition for the term during which they take comprehensive exams. Students who wish to continue to have access to library resources (which are ordinarily linked to student status and payment of tuition) may pay $50 for the Continuing Student Access Fee.Graduate students may also pay this fee to continue these privileges during a term of non-enrollment such as Summer term. Please see library policy below for more information.


Continuing Access Fee

Library access for students not currently registered for classes

Students who require library privileges during a term of non-course enrollment (for example, during thesis research or to finish incompletes) need to pay the $50 Continuing Access Fee.  Either the Business Office (in Lieuallen Administration Bldg.) or Lori Pagel in the library can charge this fee to your account (detail code A077).

The Continuing Access Fee provides you standard student access to library facilities and collections, most notably borrowing from the local collection and through Summit or Interlibrary Loan, as well as off-campus access to the subscription databases. The student is still liable for applicable overdue fines and replacement costs.

Please note that reactivating your account is a manual process–there is no automatic connection between the payment and the activation process, or even a notification to us that you are doing this. You must present confirmation to us that this charge has been added to your account: either a) present to the Checkout Desk a receipt from your WolfWeb account showing the charge, or b) ask pagell@wou.edu to confirm your payment. Then, during standard business hours, we can make the changes necessary for you to have access.

This same fee is charged to Independent Scholars.


Division of Social Sciences 

503-838-8288 | or e-mail: ryalss@wou.edu Location: BELL 231