History, Ph.D.

Degree Requirements 

Minimum of 60 hours post baccalaureate; minimum of 30 hours post Master’s Degree (additional hours post-Master’s may be required based on consultation with an advisory committee)

The Ph.D. is offered in the following major fields:

  • U.S. to 1877
  • U.S. since 1789
  • Early modern Europe
  • Modern Europe
  • Latin America
  • History of culture, identity and economic development
  • History of science, technology, and environment

Ph.D. candidates will choose three fields of specialization. The major field in which the dissertation is written shall be one in which the Ph.D. is offered. Those fields can also be minor (secondary or tertiary) fields, though trans-national, thematic areas (such as cultural history, southern studies, comparative slavery, women and gender studies, or Atlantic World) can also be designated minor fields. Additionally, the second and third fields may include up to two of the following special fields: African American studies; diplomacy; Latin America; East Asia; sub-Saharan Africa; North Africa; Middle East; public history or one of the component areas of specialization in public history (archives, museum studies, historic preservation); military, legal, or constitutional history; U.S. South; women’s history; gender studies; industrialization; labor; rural studies; environmental history; ethnicity; nationalism, or one cognate field in another discipline may be substituted for one of the minor fields.

The major field shall reflect the student’s main interest and shall be chronologically and/or geographically defined.

One of the student’s two minor fields also may be defined chronologically and/or geographically, provided that it covers a different area and/or time from the student’s major field; or it may be a topical, thematic, or comparative field, including culture, identity, economic development.  In order for graduate students to be trained broadly in the discipline of history, the secondary or tertiary field should not both be a subset of the primary field, and clearly distinguishable as a separate field of study. Normally, students will be expected to complete 9 hours of course work in the second field and 6 hours of course work in the third field.

The student’s third field can be in any approved field if the student’s second field is a topical, thematic, or comparative field; otherwise, it shall be a topical, thematic, comparative field, or cognate field. The student can choose to do one field outside of history—as either the secondary or tertiary field—with an examiner from outside the department.

Ph.D. candidates shall file a program of study immediately after their admission to candidacy, which follows the successful completion of the qualifying examination or comes no later than 24 months after entering the program.

Doctoral students are required to take a minimum of 18 hours of course work beyond the M.A., but additional hours may be specified by their advisor and approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies. Ph.D. students should expect to take at least 12 hours of dissertation preparation.

Credit hours shall be distributed as follows:

Graduate-Level Reading Seminars (6 Hours)

Unless taken at the M.A. level.

The seminars should be in two of the student’s fields of study. The student’s advisor may substitute other appropriate courses.

Methodological and Theoretical Training Coursework (6 Hours)

Courses will complement the 700-graduate reading seminars in historiography.

Course Title Credits
HIST 720Introduction to the Study of History3
HIST 783History and Theory3
Total Credit Hours6

800-Level Research Seminar (3 Hours)

Seminar will be in the student’s major field and is in addition to the research seminar required for the M.A.

Course Title Credits
HIST 815Dissertation Prospectus Seminar3
Total Credit Hours3

Additional Information

Every Ph.D. student shall prove competency in at least one foreign language or appropriate methodology. Additional languages and/or methodological requirements will be determined by the student’s program advisory committee when the chosen fields or research interests demand more.

Written comprehensive examinations in three fields are required and are offered in January, May, and August of each year. Minor-field examinations will be administered independently by the faculty in those areas and will consist of one four-hour examination for each field.

The major field will have two examiners, and there will be two four-hour examinations. All requirements for attaining the degree (except for completion of the dissertation) shall be accomplished prior to taking the comprehensive examination in the major field. This includes the satisfactory completion of the language requirement and the removal of any grades of incomplete.

If a student fails, the exam may be retaken one time and must be administered by the same examiner(s).

Oral examinations covering the major and minor fields will be scheduled after the successful completion of written examinations in all fields.

In order to achieve official ABD status, all students shall orally present and defend a written dissertation proposal to their committee and other interested members of the department. The dissertation prospectus defense will take place while the student is enrolled in HIST 815 or, with the approval of the committee, shortly after completion of the course.

Finally, candidates will prepare for submission a dissertation that is expected to represent a substantial contribution to historical knowledge.