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History PhD Program

About the History PhD Program

The Doctor of Philosophy program provides general instruction in the historian’s craft and intensive training in one major field and two minor fields of history. Candidates for the PhD are expected to obtain a broad historical knowledge, demonstrate expertise in the special area of their dissertations, and master fundamental research techniques and methodologies. As prospective members of a time-honored profession, candidates should strive to make substantive contributions to historical scholarship in original research and writing, classroom teaching, or institutions of research and interpretation. 

In addition to the departmental requirements noted in the History Graduate Handbook, please read the University requirements for the PhD degree, which are listed on the Graduate School website.

PhD Departmental Requirements

For a complete list of Doctoral Degree Requirements, please review the Graduate Handbook, pages 7-13.1

PhD students must form a supervisory committee no later than the second semester of graduate study.

Supervisory committees for doctoral students consists of 5 members of the University faculty including adjunct and reserach faculty. A majority should hold regular faculty appointments and at least one member must be from a department other than history.

Graduate school regulations for Supervisory Committees can be found on the Graduate School website, and in the Department Graduate Handbook pages 8-9.

There is no stipulated number of credit hours required for the PhD. In consultation with the Supervisory Committee, PhD students will create an individualized program of study designed to prepare them to pass the qualifying examinations and proceed with dissertation research.


  • HIST 7800: History Methods
  • PhD in U.S. History must complete HIST 7500 & 7510
  • Two research seminars, at least one of which must be in their major field.
  • One seminar or colloquium in each minor field.
  • Minimum of 14 hours of HIST 7970: Thesis Research.

See History Graduate Handbook pages 9-10.

The program of study is a list that contains all the coursework and research hours completed for the degree. Candidates for the PhD degree ordinarily must complete no fewer than three full years (six semesters) of approved graduate work (i.e., courses numbered 6000 and above) and a dissertation. All candidates for a PhD will meet with the Graduate Advisor one semester before graduation to discuss the final requirements, which will provide sufficient time for entering all the information online. The Supervisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies must approve the program of study. 

See History Graduate Handbook page 10.

Doctoral students must complete the degree requirements within seven years of the original date of admission; failure to do so shall necessitate reapplication for admission to the
program and repetition of all qualifying examinations.

See History Graduate Handbook page 13.

Doctoral Student smay be dismissed from the program for failure to achieve any of the following:

  • Maintain a minimum GPA fo 3.0
  • Officially register documentation of a supervisory committee from the time of official registration of the supervisory committee through completion of the program.
  • Pass qualifying exams by the end of their 5th year in the doctoral program. In the event that a candidate fails the final exaination, it may be repeated, but only one; failure to pass an examination a second time shall automatically result in termination of the Student's PhD program.
  • Complete dissertation revisions as required by the supervisory committee and obtain the supervisory chair's signature on the Final Reading Form wthin 120 days of the dissertation defense.

All PhD students must achieve advanced proficiency in one foreign language. Students
should contact the History academic advisor to learn how to fulfill this requirement. PhD students may also be required by their supervisory committees to master other foreign languages to conduct research and read scholarship in their chosen fields. Language credits will not count towards fulfillment of degree requirements. 

See History Graduate Handbook page 10.

PhD qualifing examinations consist of two parts: a written examination and an oral examination.

Written Examination:
In the major field, the written examination will not exceed eight hours in length. The
exam is constructed and evaluated by the PhD student’s Supervisory Committee and will reflect the breadth and complexity of the entire field. In the minor fields, written
examinations will not exceed four hours in length altogether (i.e., two hours in each
minor field). At the discretion of the supervisory committee, the student may substitute a portfolio for a written examination in either or both minor fields. This portfolio will consist of sample syllabi for a course or courses in that field, along with an annotated bibliography and the student’s written work deemed appropriate for the portfolio by the student’s minor field Supervisory Committee member.

Oral Examination:
The student’s Supervisory Committee will conduct an oral examination of approximately two hours after the completion of all written examinations. The oral examination shall be conducted by the student’s Supervisory Committee Chair and will cover the major and minor fields. 

See History Graduate Handbook pages 10-11.

Upon completion of the qualifying examination, the student shall be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. Thereafter the candidate shall present a prospectus of the dissertation to the Supervisory Committee for approval. The prospectus is a proposal for the
dissertation, and will normally include a statement and justification of the topic to be
explored, a research plan, a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and a discussion of methodology. The prospectus should be developed only after considerable
preliminary investigation of a general problem. The prospectus must receive formal
approval by the candidate’s Supervisory Committee. A departmental form summarizing the action of the committee, along with a copy of the approved prospectus, must be filed with the Advisor following the prospectus meeting.

See History Graduate Handbook page 11.

After the prospectus is approved, candidates proceed to research and write a dissertation
under the supervision of the dissertation advisor, who in most cases will be the Supervisory Committee Chair. This is to be a major research and writing endeavor, incorporating exhaustive research and advanced conceptual and analytical skills. Although supervision of the dissertation shall be the province of the dissertation advisor, candidates are expected to advise other committee members of their work in progress. The candidate shall submit a draft of the dissertation to each member of the supervisory committee at least one month prior to the final oral examination. The style and format of the dissertation must accord with departmental policies as administered by the Thesis Office at the Graduate School.

See History Graduate Handbook pages 19 and 24.

Students are responsible for filling out forms with the Academic Advisor and Director of Graduate Studies in a timely manner so that their student records can be updated and the studen will not fall out of compliance with the Graduate School.

All forms can be found here.

Last Updated: 3/20/24