Master of Arts in Comparative History (1 year)

Please note that we do not accept applications for this program any longer. If you are a prospective student applying for the one-year MA, see the list of our MA programs starting in September 2024.


As an international faculty and student body, we strive to think about history not only within but also across geographical regions, national boundaries, and academic disciplines. The 1-yr MA program welcomes students to explore a broad range of topics and historical periods using the tools of global, intellectual, cultural, and social history.

Since the program is short and intense, it is best suited for students who have a relatively clear idea for a thesis topic. The subtitle of the program "Comparative History" is meant here in the broadest sense of thinking about one's particular project with consideration of similar developments in other geographic, imperial, or national contexts in order to avoid insularity and to keep in mind both the interconnectedness and distinctiveness of certain historical trajectories. (Students are not required to submit research proposals that carry out systematic, symmetrical comparisons.)

Program structure

In accordance with the CEU academic calendar the History Department offerings are divided into a Pre-Session (2 weeks: September), the Fall term (12 weeks: late September to December), the Winter term (12 weeks: January-March) and a Spring Session (10 weeks: April-June). The Pre-Session (general orientation about the university and about the curriculum) is designed to introduce students to resources within CEU and the surrounding urban environment. The Fall and Winter terms consist of coursework and lay the groundwork for the Master's thesis. For the one-year MA the Spring Session is largely research-oriented, allowing time for writing and research. Likewise, the April break allows students much needed leeway to do fieldwork or archival research. The university provides modest grants to assist students in accomplishing their research (in early February, information is made available about the application procedure for these grants). After the research break, there is an optional educational field trip within the region. In May all students return to CEU to consult with their thesis supervisors, participate in workshops with faculty and fellow students to present their projects, and complete their theses by the second week of June.

Workload and graduation requirements

In order to graduate, one-year MA students must earn 30 credit points, out of which 2 are obtained by attending the Winter and Spring Thesis Workshops and 5 for a successfully defended thesis. The remaining 23 are course credits, as detailed in the Curriculum. One course credit equals one hour (50 minutes) of classroom attendance per week over a 12-week long academic term. History Department courses are usually 2 or 4 credit courses (i.e., two or four hours per week for a term), with proportionate reading assignments and other requirements which altogether demand a time investment of c. 3 times as much as the number of class contact hours.

In the one-year MA, the only mandatory courses are the one in Historiography (2 credits, Fall term) and in Academic Writing (2 credits in the Fall and 1 credit in the Winter term). The remaining 18 course credits can be collected in elective courses, mainly from the wide-ranging offer of the History Department, but bearing in mind that it is possible to take a limited number of cross-listed courses from other CEU departments as well. While students thus have significant latitude to construct their personal curriculum, in order to achieve a proper balance and range within their training in history, they are also strongly encouraged to look beyond the scope of their thesis research in selecting their courses. The MA Program Director, their supervisors and other faculty assist them in making a selection that is best suited for both their specific field of research and the program’s aim of comparative training.

The MA Thesis

Each student is required to write a thesis based on original research. Students are expected to indicate their proposed thesis topic in their application but this topic can be refined and developed during the coursework. The research component will be especially enhanced by knowledge of some type of available primary resources, whether archival documents, prospective interviews and fieldwork, or periodical collections. Detailed information concerning the thesis is provided in the latest MA Thesis Guidelines.

Learn more about this program on the CEU Course hub and from the program Brochure.