A graduate program consists of many things, from the details of faculty and students to curricula, concentrations, and special fields of study. Beyond these are larger features that capture more generally what might be called the character of a program. These are the matters of professional belief that constitute a program's character and embody its vision of what it ought to be all about. Briefly put, the character of the UMass/Five College program involves:
- Cultivation of the research skills essential to good scholarship at all levels;
- The use of the exceptional resources of five campuses to provide a professional training that combines intellectual breadth and historical focus;
- An emphasis on the crucial and timely importance of bringing history to a broad public and of writing well for a variety of audiences from professional to popular, national to local;
- And the promotion of diversity, both in the composition of our collegial community and in the variety of occupations for which our students prepare.
The Graduate Experience
Mission and resources lend the program overall shape and identity. But also important are the threads from which the whole cloth of graduate experience is woven as students move through the program from matriculation to commencement and into the early stages of careers:
- Coursework. Reading, writing, pursuing the puzzles of original research, discussing ideas with other students and faculty – it is within small graduate seminars that students learn the disciplinary territory and begin to locate themselves within it.
- Fields. While the accumulation of courses is important, it's the preparation of fields that provides the program's culmination. Decisions about the nature of each of three fields – focus, breadth, relevance, mutual articulation, as well as the availability of courses and faculty advisors - offer students the chance to define the kind of historians they intend to be.
- Teaching. Historians teach – and many of our students work as teaching assistants. Much as a medieval guild, the program enables faculty and TA to work together as master and apprentice to learn the craft and practice the art of teaching.
- Research. Professional identity and authority are both grounded in research. In theses and dissertations, as well as in the research projects pursued within various courses and seminars, at various sites around the Valley and elsewhere throughout the world, original investigation lies at the heart of the program.
- Internships. Historians are needed in many places outside the academic world. The graduate program, especially in the Public History concentration, helps students search out opportunities to work as historians in public places outside the University.
- Reading Groups. Students in the program read intensively both for seminars and as they prepare fields in anticipation of general examinations. Informal reading groups, organized by discipline and meeting at salubrious sites every few weeks, offer students and faculty the opportunity to read together articles from current core journals.
- Conferences. Historians, apprentice and master both, move in widening circles. The program encourages its students to present their work at national and local conferences – thereby forging identities beyond the local community important for their future careers.
- Community. Not least, our students and faculty relish the camaraderie of a program whose members enjoy meeting and socializing with one another both within and without the classroom.