Master of Arts in Comparative History (1 year)

Program level: 
Degree awarded: 
Country of accreditation: 
United States
Program accreditation/registration: 
Program approved and registered by the New York State Education Department
Program accredited by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ-Austria)
Standard Program duration: 
1 year (10 months)
Type of degree: 
US degree credits: 
Austrian degree ECTS credits: 
Start of the program : 

Program Description

Please note that we are not accepting applications to this program as of academic year 2023-24. If you are interested, please see the new MA in Historical Studies (1 year).


The one-year Master of Arts degree in Central European History was first launched at CEU in 1992. It is registered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York (US) for and on behalf of the New York State Education Department, and is also accredited in Austria by AQ Austria.

Who should apply?

The one-year MA program is an intensive one, designed for applicants with four or five years of previous university education. Having an undergraduate degree in history is an advantage, but the department also welcomes applications from students in other social science and humanities disciplines and will decide on a case by case basis whether the applicant can be accepted in the one-year program, or would be better advised to pursue the two-year program. Holders of three-year BA degrees should apply for the two-year program.

In exceptional cases, applicants with a three-year bachelor’s degree may be allowed admission into one-year master’s programs. The applicants should be aware that they may not be able to pursue a doctoral degree in the European Higher Education Area if they have accumulated less than 300 ECTS credits in their prior university studies. Applicants wishing to pursue an academic career should choose their master’s program accordingly (two-year master’s in case they completed a three-year bachelor’s degree, and one-year master’s in case they completed a four-year bachelor’s degree). For the list of conditions under which exemptions may be granted, please refer to the program’s website.

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 both within CEU and in Vienna. The Fall and Winter terms consist of intensive coursework and lay the groundwork for the Master's thesis. For the one-year MA the Spring Session is largely research-oriented. During April students do fieldwork or archival research. The university provides modest grants to assist students in accomplishing their research (information is made available about the application procedure for these grants in early February). 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 40 credit points, out of which 2 are obtained by attending winter and spring thesis workshops and 8 for a successfully defended thesis. The remaining 30 are course credits. 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 (4 credits, fall term) and in academic writing (2 credits in both the fall and winter terms). The remaining 22 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.



Orientation (M) 0

Zero-week course presentations (M) 0

Fall term

Historiography (lecture + seminar, M) 4

Academic writing (M) 2

Elective courses (recommended load) 8–12

Winter term

Academic writing / thesis tutoring (M) 2

Thesis workshop (M) 1

Elective courses (recommended load) 10–14

Spring session

Thesis workshop (M) 1

Thesis and defense (M) 8

Total 40

M = mandatory activity/course

Course Syllabi and Readers

Some readers for courses (as described in the course syllabi) are available in the CEU Library, but the bulk of the course materials may be found at the department’s e-learning site: Links to individual courses are also included in the departmental course listings: .

Academic Honesty

The offense of academic misconduct includes plagiarizing, that is, representing the ideas or words of another without proper attribution to the source of those ideas or words, whether intentional or not. Students should consult faculty or the Academic Writing Center if they are at all unclear about the difference between appropriate citation and plagiarism. Additionally, students may not submit an assignment or part of an assignment for credit in more than one course unless approved by both course instructors. However, course papers may be incorporated into the thesis. Acts of academic misconduct will result in serious consequences such as a failing grade for the assignment, course or removal from the program.

For further information, please refer to the university’s Code of Ethics.

The MA Thesis

Each student is required to write a 18,000–22,000 word 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. Our lists of successfully defended MA theses will suggest the range of topics that have been researched in the History Department.

The Hanák Prize

Since 1997 the History Department has recognized outstanding research by its MA students, and since 1998 this recognition has been known as the Péter Hanák Prize, in honor of the founding Chair of the department. One or more Hanák Prizes have been awarded annually. The Prize (a book) is presented to the author(s) of the best theses chosen on the basis of nominations by supervisors and evaluations by other faculty members.

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