Master of Arts in Comparative History (2 years)
As of 2008, a two-year MA degree in Comparative History was introduced at CEU as a joint initiative of the Department of Medieval Studies and the History Department. It consists of two tracks: Late Antique, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies and the Comparative History from 1500 till present time. In November 2007, this new program was 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 in July 2008 by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee.
The two-year program is set within the framework of the School of History and Interdisciplinary Studies (accredited in Hungary). By joining forces, the departments of Medieval Studies and History are able to offer a multifaceted degree program, strongly underpinned by a systematic introduction to theories, methods and research skills in history and related disciplines, focusing on Central, Eastern, Southeastern, and Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean from late antiquity to contemporary times, aimed at the understanding of persistent themes in the experience of these regions in a longue durée (historical) perspective. The two-year option does not affect the integrity of the accredited one-year MA programs currently offered by both departments separately, and it extensively relies on their curricula.
Who should apply?
The two-year MA program is as demanding as its one-year alternative, but its pace and substance are designed to meet the interests of students who may need more work on the basics of historical scholarship. It is specifically intended for applicants with a three-year BA (“Bologna type”) degree in history, archaeology, literary history, Classical languages, art history or other related disciplines or students who may have completed four or even five years of undergraduate education, but in a social science or humanities discipline other than history. Holders of four- or five-year undergraduate degrees in history are advised to apply to the one-year program (although they may be directed to the two-year program upon the examination of their individual backgrounds).
In accordance with the CEU academic calendar, the program offerings are divided into a Pre-Session and Zero Week (3 weeks in September), the Fall term (12 weeks from late September to December), the Winter term (12 weeks from January to the end of March) and a Spring Session (10 weeks in April and June).
The first year of the two-year program is integrated to a considerable extent between the Departments of History and Medieval Studies. It is intended to ensure good training in methods and theoretical basics as well as languages and other skills.
The Pre-Session and Zero Week are designed to accommodate students to the CEU environment. The program includes an excursion, introductory sessions for students about resources both within CEU, course introductions, and getting acquainted with the archival and library resources in Budapest.
The first term comprises several mandatory courses, while other courses are selected from a set number of mandatory fields (“elective” or “topical survey” courses). Some courses are separate electives for medievalists and modernists.
In the second term the number of common courses decreases and the choice of electives increases (but they are still open for both Medieval Studies and History students). The number of special courses for each group is larger and preparations begin for the second year. A thesis prospectus is submitted and defended at the end of the academic year. Students start to work on the prospectus under the guidance of a supervisor in the MA thesis planning seminar during the winter term, to be continued in the thesis workshops offered in the month of May. The three-week research break in April serves for students to explore possible archival and other sources at home or elsewhere. The university provides modest grants to assist students in conducting their research. Information is made available about the application procedure for these grants in early February.
The year ends with a spring session starting in the last week of April. Medievalists have a one-week field trip (prepared for during the Fall Term by a field trip seminar) to sites and areas offering insights into the medieval civilization of the region, and “modernists” go on an educational trip of several days to one or two cultural capitals of the region (traditionally, the “Vienna trip”). This is followed by the Spring Session that provides further guidance towards authoring the MA prospectus.
At the History Department students present and discuss the results of their research done in April with their peers and faculty members in the above mentioned thesis workshops. At the Medieval Studies Department the Spring Session primarily consists of a 3-week seminar period when elective courses provide further guidance towards writing the MA theses. 2 single-credit seminars have to be selected from 4 offered options.
In June, the prospectus defenses of the first-year students take place in the same period as the MA Thesis defenses of the second-year students. Approval of the prospectus by a committee of the relevant department is a condition for continuing studies. Specific research tasks for the summer break are also planned.
In the third term (the fall term of the second year) students take specialized seminars and advanced research methods courses. The fourth term and the spring session of the second year are almost fully devoted to thesis-related tasks (writing the thesis, attending thesis-writing workshops, and supplementing research results when needed).
Workload and Graduation Requirements
In order to graduate, two-year MA students must earn 66 credit points, out of which 12 are obtained for a successfully defended thesis. The remaining 54 are course credits (including thesis-planning seminars and thesis-writing workshops). One course credit equals one hour (50 minutes) of classroom attendance per week over a 12-week academic term.
Students have significant flexibility to select courses. Supervisors and other faculty assist them in making selections that are best suited for both their specific field of research and the program’s aim of interdisciplinary training. A tentative program for the entire year is discussed and designed individually with each student in each September. Naturally, minor changes, due to, for example, new interests on the part of a student, are possible.