Global and Comparative History Master’s Degree Requirements

The completion of 30 course credits is required of all students pursuing a master’s degree in Global and Comparative History. These include:

Area, Regional, and Thematic Courses (21 credits, seven courses) are selected by each student in the program in consultation with faculty advisers from the diverse elective courses at the 500-level. Each of these offerings is focused on one of the three following levels of global and comparative analysis:

  1. Area and regionally focused courses. More specialized but broadly conceived courses on Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Latin America, Russia, China, and Japan that emphasize cross-cultural connections and the place of each of these core regions of human socio-cultural development in larger global perspectives.
  1. Trans-continental courses. Courses that might address, for example, the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific, or Indian Ocean regions in cross-cultural, comparative, and world historical perspectives.
  1. Thematic courses. Ranging from the World History of the Environment, Gender or Race and Ethnicity in Cross-Cultural Perspective, the Age of Global Empires, or Slavery in World History.

500-level courses are regularly scheduled over several semesters. One of the area-focused or trans-continental courses is offered each semester in a given academic year on a rotating basis, with an Asian or Middle East course in one semester and a course on Africa or the Americas in the next. Thematic courses are normally taken in the second year (or later) of the program. This sequencing presumes that students signing up for thematic courses will have already been exposed to the core course and at least one of the regional or trans-continental courses.

Exams, papers, and other written assignments for each of the 500-level courses vary according to the strengths and interests of individual students. For example, a secondary school teacher would normally take mid-term and final exams and have special assignments that might range from critiques of existing world history textbooks, rethinking the courses they teach in light of what they are learning in the master’s degree program, or working up alternative syllabi or program designs for their own classes. A student aiming for admission to a Ph.D. program or Ph.D. candidates in the Rutgers History Department would normally undertake a research paper, while high-achieving undergraduates’ assignments could take the form of both exams and thought papers.


A Core Course on Global and Comparative History (3 credits). All students working to attain a Global and Comparative master’s degree must take the core course on Approaches to Global History: Concepts and Teaching. The course is designed to introduce students to major approaches to Global History. It uses cases and conceptual writings to examine important themes, questions, and debates in Global History, and to explore alternative teaching strategies and materials. It surveys and assesses approaches that emphasize different chronologies, kinds of sources, interpretations, and vantage points. It discusses various ways in which global history is being researched and taught, using illustrative materials. In addition to writing short papers on exemplary studies and schools of thought, each student prepares a final assignment appropriate to the student’s major interest in the program. These projects can consist of a course syllabus with materials and a supporting essay, or a paper on a major problem in global history that compares approaches or applies and tests local and regional cases. This course also provides a conceptual foundation for regional and thematic courses available to those participating in the program.

After completing eight (8), three-credit courses on various culture areas, regions, and global processes, each graduate student in the program will finish the M.A. with:

  1. A Master’s Exam (3-credits), which includes compiling, in consultation with faculty advisers, reading lists in areas and themes appropriate to each student’s needs and the successful completion of a week-long, take-home essay exam.
  2. Capstone Course (3-credits), which allows students to tie together the multiple strands of knowledge to which they have been exposed during their course of study in ways that would be most useful for them in their future endeavors. Teachers in secondary schools could use this opportunity to design a new sequence of world history offerings or an alternative world history curriculum that would include specific readings, classroom exercises, and project assignments. Students hoping to gain admission to doctoral programs might want to turn a paper written in one of the 500-level courses into a publishable article or the essay they would submit in applying for admission to major Ph.D. programs. With the permission of a faculty supervisor, some might elect to write a traditional master’s thesis. The instructor of the capstone course will meet with the students in both regular group sessions and individually, and guide them in all stages of their work.