Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Find Out What Courses Will be Offered?

Each semester the department puts out a booklet with descriptions of courses that will be offered in the following semester. This booklet is generally available by the latter part of the preceding semester and may be obtained by calling the history office at 408-924-5500. 

For a complete list of classes, by semester, visit the Office of the Registrar and click on the "Schedule of Classes" link.

How Do I Register For Classes?

Students are able to register for classes using the MySJSU system. Students will need their student identification number and their MySJSU password to log in and register for classes. If you experience any technical problems with the MySJSU registration system, please contact the University Help Desk. For a list of enrollment appointments and other valuable registration information, visit the Office of the Registrar.

Do Some Classes Fill Up?

In recent semesters, some graduate classes have filled up, and we have had to turn students away. (Graduate classes are limited to fifteen students.) While this may not happen, play it safe and register for the graduate classes you want to take as soon as possible. In addition, your early registration helps us to plan our program and sometimes to take contingency measures. Undergraduate upper division class may also fill up rapidly. (Remember that you may take 12 of your 30 units toward the M.A. degree in upper division courses.)

How Many Classes Should I Take?

There is no hard and fast answer to this question, as people's circumstances and work capacity vary. As a general rule, you should not attempt more than two classes, especially ones at the graduate level, if you have significant employment or family responsibilities. (The vast majority of our graduate students take one or two classes per semester.) If you are able to be a full-time graduate student, three classes are a heavy load, though very occasionally four classes have been managed by students. Keep in mind, that reading, writing, and other requirements will be much more demanding than most undergraduate classes you have taken.

Which Classes Should I Take?

You should make a decision reasonably early on as to what will be your primary and secondary fields, but you do not have to make this decision over the summer or even in your first semester. Obviously, if it is unlikely that you will ever want to make U.S. history either your primary or secondary field, it would be a waste of your time to take classes in that field. The fields you select as your primary and secondary ones will be (or should be) mainly a function of your interest in them. 

Conditionally classified graduate students who are required to complete courses in addition to the core 30 unit program should complete their “conditional” classes as early in their program as the schedule permits. While most “conditionally” classified students do not have to complete their additional requisite courses before taking other graduate courses, you are strongly advised to do so, especially History 102 and History 200, which are meant to be foundation courses for your further study. In any case, remember that you cannot become a classified graduate student, file for candidacy, or complete the degree until you have completed your “conditional” courses. 

It is a good idea to take at least one graduate class in your first semester. You need to become familiar immediately with the greater demands that graduate classes place on you. You should also keep in mind that some graduate classes are offered only once every two years, for various reasons. General advice on taking classes follows: 

  • If you see a graduate class that really attracts your interest, take it, as it might not be offered for a couple of years.
  • Everything else being equal, chose a colloquium over a seminar. A colloquium will give you a broader introduction to graduate work by forcing you to read intensively in a subject area. Most research seminars will plunge you into a research project for the better part of the semester, and it might be better not to do that in your first semester.
  • If you feel your writing, research, and historiographical skills are rusty or in need of sharpening, and you want to learn more about graduate studies and the history academic profession, take History 200.
  • If your primary concentration will be U.S. history, you should enroll in History 210a, 210b, or 210c in order to prepare for the final comprehensive examination. (This is a three semester colloquia sequence on important issues and books in American history. 210a covers the period up to 1780; 210b, 1780-1900; and 210c the twentieth century.) It is mandatory that you take all three classes in this series. It does not matter in which particular order you take them.
  • You may have a special field of interest or already know of a professor with whom you would like to work, but find that a professor is not teaching a graduate class in that field next semester. Then, consider taking an undergraduate class with him or her if you possibly can.