Apr 13, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 
Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in History

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Director of Graduate Studies: James Palmitessa
Room 4311, Friedmann Hall

The Doctor of Philosophy in History is designed to prepare students for careers in higher education, public and applied history, and historical administration. Preparation extends beyond archival research techniques to include oral traditions, ethnohistory, archaeology, material culture, museum studies, historic preservation, gender studies and collective memory. Students are provided with opportunities to teach in the undergraduate program under the direction of senior colleagues and receive training in additional professional skills.

Faculty research and instruction emphasize the social and cultural aspects of historical change. Resources include the Medieval Institute, the Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies, the Rawlinson Centre for Anglo-Saxon and Manuscript Studies, the Kercher Center for Social Research, the Diether Haenicke Center for International Study, the Archives and Regional History Collection, and the holdings of the French Michilimackinac Research Project.


Admission Requirements

  1. Admission normally requires a master’s degree in history or a closely related discipline. No student shall be admitted to the Ph.D. program, except on probationary status, before having completed all work and examinations requisite to the M.A. degree.
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general aptitude test scores.
  3. Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic work.
  4. A brief essay concerning applicant’s academic and professional objectives, and a writing sample.
  5. Reading proficiency in languages other than English appropriate to the proposed program of study is strongly recommended; studies to meet deficiencies in this area must be begun during the first year of doctoral study. Students whose native language is other than English must achieve a TOEFL score of 600 or above, or otherwise demonstrate a command of English judged adequate by the department to pursue graduate study in the discipline.


Program Requirements

Award of the Doctor of Philosophy in History is based upon successful completion of qualifying examinations in several fields, and demonstration in seminars and the dissertation of the ability to conduct original research. Programs of study are developed in consultation with the supervising professor and appropriate faculty. The program requires a minimum of 75 hours of credit beyond the baccalaureate degree or 45 hours beyond the master’s degree.

All students must complete two core courses: HIST 6010 (in the first year of study) and HIST 6980 (prior to teaching as an instructor of record). These courses serve several roles: They provide students with the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the profession of historian in all its myriad forms and applications; they train students in the various skills needed to succeed as professional historians in various venues; and they help students become part of the graduate student community in the department. Each student must also complete course work in theory and research techniques in an allied social science or humanities discipline appropriate to the student’s research agenda.

Major Field

The major field designates an area of study in which the student seeks to establish primary professional competence.

Minor Field

A minor field designates an area of study that is complementary to, or provides skills necessary to, the major field.

Outside Field

The outside field may comprise work in a series of courses within a discipline outside of, but bearing upon, the major field and dissertation topic.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one language other than English appropriate for their programs of study prior to qualifying examinations. Proficiency is demonstrated by satisfactory completion of a 2010-level or 5010-level non-English language course, or by a translation examination. Many major fields have additional non-English language requirements. All required course work to achieve necessary proficiencies must be completed prior to qualifying examinations

Theory, Research, and Applications Course Work

Each student must complete approved course work in theory and research techniques in an allied social science or humanities discipline appropriate to the candidate’s research agenda. Course work is selected in consultation with the student’s examination committee and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Research Tools

Three research tools are required. Competence in one language other than English as a research tool is required for all doctoral students in the history program. When appropriate, a second non-English language may be used as a second research tool. Requirements for demonstrating language competence are specified in the History Graduate Handbook. Other research tool requirements can be met either with a third non-English language or through approved course work that incorporates theoretical or methodological approaches relevant to the study of history. Competence in theoretical or methodological tools is normally shown by a grade of “B” or better in approved course work or by an advanced degree in the appropriate social science or humanities discipline. Students must consult with their supervising professors and the director of graduate studies before enrolling in any course, to ensure that it will fulfill the requirement.

Qualifying Examinations

Written and oral qualifying examinations are taken after the satisfactory completion of all course work and foreign language requirements, typically during the student’s sixth full-time semester. The qualifying examination confirms the student’s competency in major, minor, and outside fields, and demonstrates that the student possesses the skills necessary to pursue dissertation research and writing. The examination involves the student’s preparation of a Portfolio of work, including a series of synthetic essays to demonstrate field competency; selected papers from graduate seminars; materials related to teaching; a dissertation proposal; and other documentation, as specified in the History Graduate Handbook. The submission of the written Portfolio is followed by an oral defense and examination.


The dissertation comprises from 12 to 18 hours of graduate course work depending upon other characteristics of the program of study.

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