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News, University News

University suspends terminal master’s in history

Department may revive program in future with extra year, stronger thematic focus

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, April 1, 2019

The University will no longer offer terminal master’s degrees in history beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

The decision came after the University compared its single-year program with longer, thematically-focused options at peer institutions and determined its degree program was not robust enough.

The suspension of the terminal master’s program, which offered a one-year program to individuals not previously enrolled at the University, leaves most outside applicants unable to obtain a Brown master’s in history. Outside applicants can still earn a transitional master’s through the University’s PhD program, and current students can enroll in the fifth-year master’s program.

“We compared Brown’s (master’s degree) to peer programs nationally and found that the vast majority of successful, competitive (master’s) programs are two years and most of them have a strong thematic or professional focus,” wrote Chair of History Robert Self in an email to The Herald. “Since ours was neither … we suspended it for further consideration.” The program may return if the University and the Department of History decide that it would be in their “best interests to develop a focused and competitive two-year program,” Self added.

Associate Professor of History Rebecca Nedostup said the history department is thinking about “how to create a more distinctive and robust program down the line.”

“It was difficult for people new to Brown to get in, get settled and get everything they wanted to do done in a year,” Nedostup said. As such, reviving the terminal master’s program “would probably mean making it a two-year institution,” Nedostup said.

But programs like the fifth-year master’s “make a lot of sense,” Nedostup said. For example, those completing a fifth-year master’s degree “can use two of the courses (they) took as an undergraduate and (they) are already connected with the faculty.”

Current terminal master’s student in history William Pei GS said the program’s suspension “was a pity because it’s a great program.” While “overall the program is good, it puts a lot of pressure on students” because of its short duration, Pei added.

The terminal master’s program in history also attracted some University employees. Nicholas Dow GS, who is both an employee in the athletic communications office and a student enrolled in the terminal master’s degree program, said “I just feel lucky that I was able to do it while I was still here.”

“It’s definitely been challenging at times working full-time and trying to also do the academic portion of it,” Dow said. “Brown has some great benefits that really allow you to do it and keep up with the financial aspect,” he added. “The type of people I’ve been able to interact with because of being a part of the program has been pretty awesome.”

Antonio Taylor GS, who will receive his degree in the spring, previously worked at the University under SEAS and in the physics department. “I was definitely shocked, and I felt very fortunate to remain with the program,” he said. “I think it’s just a lost perspective to be honest.”

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