The Catholic University of America

Courses and grading

History 601

All students, whether admitted to an M.A. program or to the Ph.D. program, must either complete History 601 or demonstrate that a similar course was taken elsewhere (to determine that such is the case is the responsibility of the Department Chair, in light of the syllabus of the course taken elsewhere and in consultation with other faculty if necessary). This course is an essential introduction to the craft of research and analysis, and thus must be taken early in a student's program (it is ordinarily expected that a student will take 601 in his/her first semester). History 601 is offered every Autumn. Through intensive reading, discussion, and writing, centered on a series of reading assignments illustrating the approaches and methodologies employed by contemporary historians, it aims to instill the substantive knowledge and the critical approaches necessary to study history at the graduate level: in short, to teach students to think as a history graduate students should. Emphasis is upon introducing students to some of the principal schools of though exemplified in current historical writing and research: for example, approaches influenced by the social sciences (economics, anthropology, psychology) or other humanities disciplines (literary or cultural theory) or recovery of the past through multiple perspectives (women's or minority history or comparative analysis).

Other Courses

In general, most courses in the department fall into one of two categories: colloquia (readings courses) and seminars (research courses).

1. Colloquia

The numerically predominant type of course in our graduate program is the readings course at the 600-level, often called a colloquium. Colloquia constitute the majority of the courses which a student completes, and it is in them that students develop the detailed understanding of the subject matter of their field. Colloquia are devoted to reading and critical discussion of the current secondary literature related to a specific topic, historical problem, or period and/or place in history. Students can expect to write bibliographical essays as the primary grading instrument. Another way to achieve the same aims as the colloquium is to do an individual directed reading (numbered at the 900 level) under the guidance of a specific instructor; this is usually done when one or two students and a professor agree to such an arrangement, which must be at the convenience and within the time limits of those involved.

2. Seminars

Courses at the 800-level (and courses at the 900-level entitled "Directed Research") are defined as seminars. Students must complete two seminars for the M.A. and two additional seminars for the Ph.D. In these courses students conduct and present primary research projects. The major requirements of these seminars is the preparation of a paper or journal-article length and style, involving the use of primary sources (in the original language where necessary). Bibliographical essays, specifically, do not meet the seminar requirement.

Some students may elect to take the thesis option for the M.A. (see below), but this does not reduce the requirement for seminars.

PhD students have the option of taking History 603: Historical Teaching in place of one of the four required research seminars. MA students may not substitute History 603 for one of their two required research seminars, but are nonetheless strongly encouraged to take the course.

Grading and Evaluation

Acceptable grades for a graduate student are A, A-, B+, B and B-. A "B" grade denotes acceptable work at the graduate level. The University also records grades of C+ and C, but in the Department of History, although a student may receive a university credit for completion of this course, any course receiving a grade below B- does not count towards a degree program.

Any student incurring more than one failure ("F") in a program, or who fails to maintain a "B" (3.00) average in all courses undertaken, may be dismissed.

To retain a scholarship or fellowship, a student is expected to do above average work, i.e., maintain at least a "B+" (3.3) average in work undertaken. Students who hope to move from an MA to a PhD are generally expected to maintain an "A-" (3.7) average in work undertaken.