Banner for National History Day <i>in Massachusetts</i>

National History Day in Massachusetts


Judging is key to the success of National History Day in Massachusetts! Hundreds of volunteer judges are needed to meet with students at regional and state-wide contests.  By volunteering your time, you are creating an opportunity for thousands of students to showcase their efforts.

How Do I Sign Up to Judge?

Judge registration for the 2021 NHD MA Competition is now open.  Sign up here and tell your friends!

Two students gesture at something outside of the photo frame while two judges look on and take notes.  In the background we see a number of exhibit boards on display.



National History Day in MA Has Gone Virtual!

In light of safety precautions implemented regarding COVID-19, the Massachusetts History Day 2021 State Contest will be entirely virtual. Like last year, we will be holding a single state-wide contest for all Massachusetts students. In a virtual contest, many of the expectations of judging are the same as in-person. Judges will receive virtual project materials to assess in advance, and we will arrange virtual student interviews during two rounds of competition. 

Almost all judging will take place in Round One during the week of March 15, with a small team of judges needed for our finalists in Round Two during the week of April 12.  Winners will advance to the National contest.  You can also learn more about our virtual competition by visiting our Contest Info page.  

How Does It Work?

NHD relies on consensus judging. For virtual judging, judges will be assigned to work in teams of three to review projects in their category (papers, websites, exhibits, performances, or documentaries) over a several day period. For more information, please check out the Quick Judging Links on this page.  

During our virtual contest season, NHD Judges will:

  • Sign up in advance on our registration website.
  • Attend a judge orientation and/or watch a judge orientation video, and review judge training materials.  (We will send out orientation materials closer to the contest.)
  • Review projects materials independently, which you and your team will receive about a week in advance of the contest.
  • Work with a judge team of two or three to select the strongest projects to advance to the next round of competition.  Note: due to student privacy and equity concerns, we will not be holding virtual student interviews.
  • Provide written feedback about each project you view via the online portal.

As a judge, you are responsible for the following:

  • Contact us as soon as possible if you cannot fulfill your commitment to judge. We may ask that you help us to find someone to fill your time slot.
  • Pay careful attention as you review the  projects so that you can evaluate them well. Students have worked for months on their projects and are looking forward to this opportunity to share their work.
  • Alert History Day staff to any conflicts of interest, including students you know personally or schools with which you have a close relationship.
  • Set aside personal bias for or against topics. Judge each project based on the merits of the evidence and historical claim that the student presents.
  • Contact History Day staff immediately if there are problems. We are here to help! 

Timeline of Judging Events

After student registration closes on Wednesday, February 24, you will be assigned to a judging team.  A Team Captain (an experienced NHD judge) will be named for each team.  The Team Captain will be responsible for ensuring that the group finds a time to meet to discuss your projects, and will be responsible for submitting the rankings and special prize nominations to us.  Don't worry, the process is very simple and we will show you how to do so during trainings!

After student project materials have been submitted on March 10th, we will share project materials with you through this registration portal.  Due to student privacy and equity concerns, we will not be holding virtual student interviews this year.  Instead, you will review student project materials independently and then meet with your judge teammates at the time of your choosing between Wednesday, March 17 and Sunday, March 21 to discuss your scoring and rankings.  All Round One rankings and feedback forms are due by 11:59 on Sunday, March 21.

After students get their feedback forms returned, the finalists will have the chance to revise their projects before Round Two.  Round Two of judging will take place from Wednesday, April 16 to Sunday, April 18, when a small cohort of judges will evaluate the top projects from each judging room in Round One and select the top two projects in each category to advance to Nationals. As with Round One, you will schedule a time to meet with your fellow judges and decide rankings at a time convenient to you.  All Round Two rankings and feedback forms are due by 11:59 on Sunday, April 18.

Lastly, our Virtual Winners Ceremony will take place on Monday, April 26, where we will announce the Category Winners heading to the National NHD competition, as well as winners of special prizes.  We hope you can join us!

Judge Training

All judges will be asked either to participate in a Zoom Judges Orientation or review the judging materials on their own. These training session dates will be made available in mid-February and will cover two of the major changes for the upcoming year:

  • Rubric-Based Judging: All National History Day contests will be using a new rubric-based document to evaluate student projects.
  • Judging through the ZFairs System: ZFairs is NHD's online contest management system. Judges will use this system to register, review projects, submit rankings, and return project feedback.

In addition, judges will receive judging packets with information on how this year's judging experience will work.  We appreciate your time and will do our best to make this experience rewarding for everyone involved!  If you have any questions, please contact us at