MAGIC Course of Study

The MAGIC curriculum is designed to build strength in comparative history while allowing students the flexibility to explore their specific regional and thematic interests. Students, in consultation with the program director, design a curriculum that simultaneously provides broad exposure to global historical perspectives and depth in a particular regional or thematic history.

All students complete the core colloquium HIST 505, Introduction to Global History in their first semester.  This class functions as the first semester of a two-semester research seminar. In addition to a syllabus of readings introducing global and comparative history, Hist 505 provides an opportunity for students to review and critique the secondary historical literature associated with their research focus. In the second semester, HIST 504 will introduce problems and methodologies of research and writing history, while students devote themselves to research and writing on their individual topics, in consultation with a field-specific mentor from the History department faculty. HIST 504 culminates in substantial progress towards a publishable article-length work of original history (8,000-10,000 words). Some students will continue research during the subsequent summer (between first and second years) in archives or libraries in or outside of DC, for which some summer funding is available, and expand and revise their article accordingly with continued advice from their field-specific mentor and the MAGIC director. This piece of original research, employing non-English language sources as appropriate, can serve as a writing sample for those students applying for the PhD. Students are also encouraged to apply to present this research at academic conferences, and ultimately submit it for publication.

All students in the MAGIC program will turn in an final ‘capstone paper’ by the end of their second year. Many students will simply submit their research article as their capstone. Others may submit what they feel is their best work from one of their other courses. All students may, if they wish, submit their capstone for consideration for the MAGIC Capstone Award, the winner of which is announced during pre-graduation festivities.

The remaining eight courses in the MAGIC course of study are usually distributed as follows:

  • Field I – Global and Comparative History (4 courses) emphasizes transregional and comparative studies, offering students the opportunity to explore common themes across different geographic regions.
  • Field II – Regional and National History (4 courses) allows students to gain deep knowledge of a particular part of the globe.

By petition, a student may focus Field I on one world region, Field II on another region, and emphasize relations between the two (e.g., Europe and the Americas); or develop an explicitly comparative perspective on a thematic issue, such as, for example, politics, gender, and culture in the Middle East and Latin America.

All students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one language other than English by passing the History department-administered language examination before beginning their third full semester in the program. This exam involves reading, answering questions based on the reading, and some translation into English of foreign language texts. At the beginning of their studies, all students will take a reading examination in a language other than English to determine their level of proficiency. Students who do not pass the examination this first time will be required to take courses or other appropriate steps to bring their language skills up to department standards before retaking the exam.  Students who received a high school diploma or an undergraduate degree from an institution in which English is not the primary language of instruction can petition to waive the exam (native proficiency). While the language requirement is not a prerequisite for admission to the MAGIC program, prospective students are strongly encouraged to have language study prior to matriculating in the program, and if necessary to refresh their foreign language knowledge during the summer before matriculation. Even those students who can pass the History department reading exam upon arrival are nonetheless encouraged, as appropriate, to take advantage of advanced language course offerings at Georgetown, a free benefit of the MAGIC program.  For additional information on the language exam, please consult the MA Handbook.