Admissions Procedures and Information

Standards and Criteria for Admission

Detailed information about graduate admission procedures and policies may be found in the San José State University Catalog. University policy requires that, except under special circumstances, all applicants for graduate school have a minimum gpa of 2.5. As a general rule, the history department requires a GPA close to, or above, 3.25, and grades for history courses are scrutinized for signs of promise.

The History Department makes its admission decisions not solely on the above criteria, but also in relation to the department's resources and the number of new graduate students it believes it can accommodate. In years where the number of students applying significantly exceeds the estimated capacity of the department, not all students meeting the minimum standards can or will be admitted.

Most applicants with a B.A. degree in history will be accepted as fully classified graduate students, that is, without being required to take additional classes beyond the 30 unit M.A. requirement. Promising applicants who do not have a B.A. in history may be admitted as conditionally classified students and required to take a minimum of two courses: History 102 (Historiography) and History 200 (Graduate Methodology, Research, and Writing). These course units will not count toward the 30 unit requirement for the M.A. degree. The Graduate Advisor also may require additional prerequisites of non-history majors up to a combined total of 15 units.

The Application Process

The History Department does not require the GRE exam.

The History Department accepts graduate students twice a year with an April application deadline for admission for the following fall semester, and a November deadline for admission the following spring semester.

The application deadline for the fall semester will be April 1 for the following fall. The deadline for receiving all supporting documents will be April 20. The application deadline for the spring semester is Nov. 1 with a document deadline of Nov. 20. Please check the Graduate Studies and Research website for any future changes in admission deadlines.

Applicants will be notified as to whether they have been admitted on a rolling basis and by the first week of May at the latest for Fall admission. Please keep this in mind, and do not call Graduate Studies, the Director of Studies in the History Department, or the History Department to find out whether you have been admitted until after April 30.

To apply for university graduate admission one must first apply online (CalState Apply). For further information about the application process at SJSU go to the Graduate Studies website.

The Graduate Division cannot process your application until it receives your fees and copies of all your official transcripts. It is highly recommended that you have your sealed transcripts sent directly to you, and that once you have collected them, send them as a package to the Graduate Studies Office. This way you will know whether your previous educational institutions have sent out your transcripts AND they will not have to be collected one at a time at Graduate Studies.

Be sure to send the official transcripts to Graduate Studies and not to the History Department or the History Director of Graduate Studies. 

How to Check That Graduate Studies Has All Your Documentation and on the Progress of Your Application with Them

After your application has been received by Graduate Studies, you will receive an email containing a User I.D. and instructions on how to check on the status of your graduate application. This email will be followed by a letter containing your own personal Password.

At the outset, remember that the History Director of Graduate Studies cannot act on your application until it is fully processed by Graduate Studies.

What You Should Send to the History Director of Graduate Studies, and not to Graduate Studies:

Please assemble the items below and send (via email) to the Graduate Advisor.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

  • Two letters of recommendation: Please have two letters of recommendation sent to the Director of Graduate Studies. These should be sent electronically to the Director of Graduate Studies by your referees. If you received your history degree from San Jose State, you do not need have to professors send letters of reference, but you must list two San Jose State professors who can speak to your qualifications.

  • A statement of purpose: In evaluating your application your statement of purpose will be very important. Please take time to address all of the following thoroughly and thoughtfully. You may do this in any order. Please fully double space your written answer.

    • Why you now want to pursue an M.A. degree in History? Do you want to teach in a Community College or in the public schools, or enhance an existing teaching credential? Do you want to work in fields outside of teaching with your degree? Do you intend to work toward a Ph.D.? Or, do you want to obtain the degree for your personal edification? In evaluating applications, the Graduate Committee does not give preference according to your reason for wanting to enter an M.A. history program. (For example, applicants stating that they intend to go into a Ph.D. program will not be at an advantage over applicants who are applying for other reasons). It does, however, request as clear a statement as possible from applicants as to why they want to pursue an advanced degree.

    • What areas (U.S., European, World) and periods of history do you intend to study? If possible, suggest your primary field of study from those that we offer. If you have topical interests in these fields or periods, mention them and explain how you developed the interest(s). What prior training or interest do you have in the general or specific fields? Discuss in a few sentences one or more books that have influenced you in your main field of interest and why.

    • Describe and discuss your prior training in history. If you have no prior training, describe and discuss how other training or interests have turned you to history and why you feel qualified to study it at an advanced level, regardless of your prior areas of study.

    • Please discuss in detail any factors that may affect your application, negatively or positively. For instance, if you are a returning student from many years ago, why you now feel the need to study history at the advanced level and why you feel qualified to do so? If you have a lackluster academic record heretofore, why is that so and why do you think that the graduate advisor/committee should overlook that? Or, on the other hand, if you have excelled prior to your application, highlight aspects of that record.

  • A writing sample: Please enclose a writing sample. This should be as academic and written as recently as possible, though we recognize that in a significant number of cases applicants may find this difficult. In which case, send us something that demonstrates your writing skills. The piece should be between 600 and 1,000 words. It may be part of a paper you have written, or you may review a historical book that you have read. Please do not send long or “full” papers as the Graduate Committee has limited time to read samples.

Important Note for Students Re-Applying to the Program, or in “Lapsed” Status

If you fail to enroll in classes in the program for two successive semesters, Graduate Studies will drop you from the program. (If you do not enroll for one semester your status is unaffected). When Graduate Studies drops you from the program, you must formally reapply for admission again. Please note that there is NO guarantee that you will be re-admitted simply because you were formerly in the program.