At the heart of the program is the two-year dissertation (a master’s thesis in the American system), a piece of original scholarly work based on detailed empirical research and analysis. The dissertation is supported by a sequence of three core courses taken at Columbia and LSE, as well as a large range of electives that allow for specialization. Rigorous language study is also an important component of the curriculum as it enables projects that are international in nature.
The two-year core sequence begins with Approaches to International and Global History (HIST GR8930), which introduces the conceptual possibilities and problems of international and world history, and the year-long MA/MSc Research Skills and Methods (HISTGR5000). The latter is a series of practical workshops that help students develop their dissertation topics and begin their research. At LSE, students enroll in their final core course, a year-long Dissertation Workshop (HY458), designed to help students write their dissertations as well as think about where they would like to take their careers after their time in the program has finished.
During the summer between the years in New York and London, students are expected to work on their dissertations. The long summer (4 1/2 months) provides students with an opportunity to engage in ambitious research projects. Some students’ projects require working in multiple archives across the globe, while others are able to conduct the entirety of their research in a single city or using online resources. Many students choose to accompany their research with foreign language training, internships and other career opportunities. It is expected that students will have completed the majority of their research by the time they arrive at LSE and will be ready to start writing.