MA in History Portfolio
Non-thesis students and MA in History with a Concentration students matriculating in the Spring of 2019 and beyond will submit and then orally defend a portfolio of written work during their last semester in the program. Because they are engaged in a major research project that is orally defended, thesis students shall not be required to present a portfolio.
By the end of their penultimate semester in the program, students must assemble a Portfolio Evaluation Committee consisting of three professors (one will be designated the “chair.”) The Appointment of the Portfolio Evaluation Committee Form shall be due to the Director of Graduate Studies in History by April 30 (for those students preparing to submit a portfolio that fall), and by November 30 (for those students preparing to submit a portfolio in the spring).
Portfolios will be uploaded as a single .PDF file to a unique BlackBoard section created for the MA in History Portfolio. Portfolios will be due on March 1 (for the spring term) and on October 1 (in the fall term). No late submissions shall be scored. The Portfolio Evaluation Committee will score the portfolios and communicate a result to the student within two weeks. Oral defenses must be completed by April 15 (for the spring term) and November 15 (for the fall term).
Each portfolio will contain the following items:
- Cover Sheet and Table of Contents: Students will prepare a cover sheet and table of contents for the portfolio. The cover sheet shall identify the student’s name and the title of his or her major thematic track. The table of contents shall list each portfolio entry and identify the course in which the entry was produced.
- Synthetic Essay: Students will prepare a substantive essay of 10-12 pages that builds connections between the courses completed in their major thematic track. The purpose of this essay is for students to address in a sophisticated way the organizing questions posed by their track.
- Annotated Bibliography: Students will prepare (in Chicago style) an annotated bibliography of the books and articles they read throughout the program, organized by thematic track.
- Two Article-Length Essays: Students will include at least two article- length essays in their portfolio (these may be historiographical essays, research papers, or one of each).
- Papers from Coursework: Students will include in their portfolios at least one piece of writing from each completed course (these may include book reviews or shorter response papers).
Students will select three professors to serve on a Portfolio Evaluation Committee. These professors will review the portfolio’s contents and score (individually, using the attached evaluation rubrics) the synthetic essay. Each member of the committee will score (1) a “Synthetic Essay Content” rubric, evaluating the essay’s historical content and analysis, and (2) a “Synthetic Essay Writing” rubric, evaluating grammar, mechanics, and citation.
Three outcomes are possible for each rubric: High Pass, Pass, or Fail. Each committee member will report his or her results to the chair of the Portfolio Evaluation Committee. If at least two committee members score the student “pass” on content, the student will “pass” content. If at least two committee members score the student “pass” on writing, the student will “pass” writing. All three committee members must score the student “high pass” on content for the student to earn a “high pass” on content; likewise, all three committee members must score the student “high pass” on writing for the student to earn a “high pass” on writing. Students must at least “pass” both the content and writing sections to advance to the oral defense. Students whose portfolios are incomplete (or who fail one or both sections of the synthetic essay) may re-submit their portfolio and essay one time. This must take place within one calendar year of the first submission, but no earlier than the next long semester. Under APS 900823, students may appeal a failure at this stage. Failure to pass a second time will result in termination from the program. A third re- evaluation may be permitted only with the approval of the appropriate academic dean and the department.
The Portfolio Evaluation Committee will conduct the oral defense (either in person or via Skype/telephone), which shall include (1) questions raised by the synthetic essay, and (2) questions about the historical content, historiographical debates, and/or major works discussed in the student’s relevant coursework. Professors will score the oral defense with the attached evaluation rubrics. Three outcomes are possible on the oral defense rubric: High Pass, Pass, or Fail. If at least two committee members score the student “pass” on the Oral Defense, the student will pass the Oral Defense. All three committee members must score the student “high pass” on the Oral Defense for the student to earn a “high pass.” Students who fail the oral defense may sit for another defense once. This must take place within one calendar year of the first defense, but no earlier than the next long semester. Under APS 900823, students may appeal a failure at this stage. Students who fail the oral defense a second time will be terminated from the program. A third defense may be permitted only with the approval of the appropriate academic dean and the department.
Reporting Final Results
Results of the exam will be communicated on the “Report of MA in History Portfolio” form. Students who earn “high passes” at all three points of evaluation (Synthetic Essay Content, Synthetic Essay Writing, and Oral Defense) will receive an overall mark of “high pass” for the Portfolio. Students who earn at least a pass at all three points of evaluation will receive an overall mark of “pass” for the Portfolio.
If you have additional questions, please contact the History Department's Graduate Director.
Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan
Department of History
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2239