MA and PhD Programs

The Department of History offers a full range of courses and programs in the fields of European and American history and also has strength in Ottoman and Middle Eastern history as well as in East Asian history. It offers exceptionally strong training in the fields of women's and gender history and in the history of science, technology, and medicine. While concentrating on the history of one nation or geographic area, students are encouraged to develop a comparative or global perspective in their work.

The department cooperates closely with a wide variety of interdisciplinary programs and departments to offer students additional instruction in comparative and world history perspectives. These include the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations; the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender; the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies; the Asian and Asian American Studies Department; the Middle East and North Africa Studies Program; the Judaic Studies Department; the Africana Studies Department; the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies Program, and the Women's Studies Program.

View MA Program overview.

View PhD Program overview.

COMBINED BA/MA BROCHURE  (pdf, 4.6 MB)

Requirements

Admission

Applicants for admission to graduate work in history are required to submit their college transcripts and scores in the Graduate Record Examinations, an example of their written work (e.g., a paper submitted in an advanced undergraduate or graduate course) and a statement of their research interests and career goals.

Adviser and Guidance Committee

Students are advised by a faculty member in their fields of concentration during their first semester in the graduate program. Before the beginning of the second semester, the student selects an appropriate member of the faculty as principal adviser (sponsor) and chair of a guidance committee. The student, in consultation with the principal adviser, solicits two additional faculty members to serve on the guidance committee. The chairperson of the guidance committee, with the assistance of colleagues and the director of graduate studies, aids students in their choices of courses, advises them on the fulfillment of other academic requirements and in general guides them through the graduate program. Normally, the guidance committee forms the core of the student's comprehensive examination committee. In most cases, too, a student's guidance committee serves as a three-person dissertation committee.

Normally, full-time matriculated students take three courses per semester. A student's coursework should be closely correlated with the proposed major and minor fields and should include a balance between general colloquia and specialized research seminars. Students are encouraged to work with a number of different professors to broaden their exposure to different historical styles, methods and theories. In addition to the work completed for their courses, students are expected to pursue a coherent program of readings in preparation for their comprehensive examinations. Independent readings courses may be arranged with individual instructors to cover special topics, but must not be used to satisfy more than one-third of a student's degree requirements. At the Master's level, only one independent study of between one and four credits may be taken under the S/U grading option and still count toward the master's degree. At the doctoral level, only four (additional) credits of independent study taken under the S/U grading option will count towards the minimal number of course credits required for the degree. All graduate seminars counted toward the history degree must be taken for a letter grade.

No faculty member is required to accept a particular student as an advisee. By the same token, a student may, for reasonable cause, petition the director of graduate studies for a change of principal adviser or guidance committee.

General requirements

Normally, full-time matriculated students take three courses per semester, closely correlated with the proposed major and minor fields, which include a balance between general colloquia and specialized research seminars. Students are encouraged to work with a number of different professors to broaden their exposure to different historical styles, methods and theories.

Students are also expected to pursue a coherent program of readings in preparation for their comprehensive examinations. Independent readings courses may be arranged with individual instructors to cover special topics, but must not be used to satisfy more than one-third of a student's degree requirements. At the master's level, only one independent study of between one and four credits may be taken under the S/U grading option and still count toward the master's degree. At the doctoral level, only four (additional) credits of independent study taken under the S/U grading option will count toward the minimal number of course credits required for the degree. All graduate seminars counted toward the history degree must be taken for a letter grade.

Master of Arts Program

The master of arts in history is granted on completion of the following requirements:

  • Credit Hours: Thirty-two graduate credit hours with a B average or better. All master's degree students are required to take HIST 592, Historiography, and one 600-level research seminar. MA students who choose to write a master's thesis are not required to take the 600-level research seminar for the master's degree; however, all master's students, including those who write a thesis, must pass the master's examination. Twenty-four of the credits offered must be taken in residence.
  • Foreign Language Requirement: Master's level students in non-anglophone history must meet the language requirement at the master's level.
  • All students completing the M.A. are required to pass a master's examination or successfully defend a research portfolio.
  • The master's examination is a three-hour written examination in the student's field of specialization given by three faculty members, at least two of whom must be members of the history department. An MA degree may be earned in one or two fields. These fields may be drawn from the list of major and minor fields in the Graduate Student Handbook. Examinations are offered once each semester, and should be taken during the semester in which the student completes all other degree requirements.
  • The research portfolio defense is an oral examination of a student's written work, including an article length paper (approx. 10,000-15,000 words inclusive of footnotes) based upon original research, and a historiographical paper (approx.. 4,000-7000 words inclusive of footnotes), which should be substantially distinct from the research paper. The examination committee is made up of the student's guidance committee. Typically students will defend their research portfolio in either their third or fourth semester in the program, which can be scheduled after a student completes at least 20 credits in the program.

Doctor of Philosophy Program

Admission
Admission to the PhD program is determined by the department when the student has completed work for the MA degree or its equivalent. All students who enter the program with an MA degree in history from another institution have their work reviewed by the department at the end of their first semester to confirm their admission to the doctoral program.

Admission to Candidacy
At least two semesters must elapse between admission to candidacy and the granting of the degree. Requirements are:

  • Course Work: Not fewer than 56 graduate credits (excluding credit for the dissertation, but including credits earned toward the MA), with an average of B+, as follows:
    • Courses in a major field;
    • Courses in two minor fields;
    • HIST 592. Historiography;*
    • Two 600-level research seminars (one of which may have been taken at the master's level.

      *Students are encouraged to fulfill this requirement of HIST 592, Historiography, early in their doctoral program.

  • Languages: All PhD students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than their native language, determined by the student in consultation with his or her guidance committee. The guidance committee may also require additional languages necessary for scholarship in the student's field. Quantitative methods or other courses may satisfy the language requirement for students who specialize in anglophone areas, as determined by the student's guidance committee.
  • Comprehensive examination: The comprehensive examination consists of examinations in the major and minor fields and a dissertation prospectus. Doctoral candidates must take a comprehensive examination in one major and two minor fields OR in two major and one minor field. Every major field has a written component, either a one-day exam of six to eight hours or a take-home exam completed over a period of two weeks. The student will be examined on the written answers in the subsequent oral portion of the examination, which also tests the student's knowledge in the minor field(s), includes a defense of the prospectus and lasts three hours. Detailed lists of both major and minor fields are available from the department and in the departmental Graduate Student Handbook.
  • Dissertation prospectus: Presentation of an acceptable prospectus is assumed to be part of the PhD oral comprehensive examination. A student may, in consultation with his or her guidance committee, separate their prospectus presentation from the comprehensive examination. In such cases, the student must have a colloquium on the prospectus within three months of the PhD oral comprehensive examination. If necessary, revisions to the prospectus may be made following the comprehensive examination or prospectus colloquium. The final prospectus must in any case be on file in the department within six months of passing the comprehensive examination.
  • PhD candidacy: Students are officially admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree upon satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination. Candidates for the PhD degree must maintain registration (dissertation or continuous) until all the degree requirements are completed. (See also the Graduate School policy statement.)

Granting of the Degree

The PhD in history is granted, after admission to candidacy, on successful completion of the following requirements:

  • Submission of a dissertation approved by the candidate's dissertation committee. The dissertation must present a new interpretation of a familiar subject, or an investigation of a subject hitherto neglected, and must be written under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty;
  • Successful defense of the dissertation in an oral examination.

Waiver of Regulations and Requirements

The department reserves the right to alter these regulations and requirements without notice, pending the publication of the next scheduled issue of this publication.

Last Updated: 8/12/16