What graduate degree can I get in History?
At the graduate level we offer both the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy
How do I become a graduate History major?
If you are admitted to our graduate program, you are by definition majoring in History.
If you want to concentrate in Egyptology, be aware, however, that acceptance into
the department does not necessarily mean acceptance into the Egyptology program. Egyptology
faculty must approve any new student wanting to take Egyptology as a concentration.
Do I need to have a B.A. in History to enter your M.A. program or an M.A. in History
to enter your Ph.D. program?
Not necessarily, although these prior degrees are highly recommended. Students with
a variety of backgrounds can excel in our programs. It is vital that an applicant's
statement of purpose and writing sample demonstrate the qualities of critical thinking
and argumentation that are at the heart of historical analysis.
For admission to the M.A. program the department expects a minimum of 18 semester
hours in undergraduate history courses from an accredited institution. We may make
an exception for a student who has non-history courses sufficiently similar in content
or methodology to history courses.
For admission to the Ph.D. program the department expects a minimum of 24 graduate
hours in history from an accredited institution. Although an M.A. in history is strongly
recommended we will also consider an applicant who has an M.A. in a field other than
history that is similar in content or methodology to history.
What GPA must I have to enter your program?
For M.A. admission, we require a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale in all undergraduate
history courses, with a minimum of 18 semester hours in undergraduate history.
For Ph.D. admission, we require a minimum GPA of 3.25 on a 4-point scale, with a minimum
of 24 graduate hours of history from an accredited institution.
What entrance examination requirement do you have?
For M.A. admission, you must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination or
the Miller Analogies Test. We urge you to take the Graduate Record Examination, especially
if you plan to work toward the Ph.D. degree.
For Ph.D. admission, you must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination.
All test scores must be sent directly from the testing agency to Graduate Admissions,
The University of Memphis, 100 Wilder Tower, Memphis, TN 38152. Test scores older
than five years are generally not acceptable. We do not accept scores on MAT exams
taken in less than 2-month intervals.
What kind of writing sample do you require for admission?
For M.A. admission, you must submit a writing sample, such as a paper from a course,
that demonstrates your ability to write and think about history. In addition, you
must submit a statement of purpose of at least 500 words, in which you should discuss
your reasons for wanting to be in the history M.A. program, your major field(s) of
interest, and anything else you can tell us about your interests in history.
For Ph.D. admission, you must submit a writing sample, preferably a M.A. thesis, or,
if this is not available, a major seminar paper, that demonstrates your ability to
write and think about history. In addition, you must submit a 750-1000 word “Statement
of Purpose,” in which you should state your educational goals, anticipated fields
of study, and general research interests. In this statement, we expect you to demonstrate
familiarity with the Department of History’s program and faculty and to discuss explicitly
how particular faculty might be helpful to you academically.
Are there additional requirements for the admission of foreign students?
Yes. The Graduate School has several additional requirements for the admission of
foreign students. They involve evaluation of courses taken at foreign institutions,
the Test of English as a Foreign Language, and, for those who are applying for an
assistantship, the Test of Spoken English. These requirements are difficult to explain
in a few words, so please refer to the section on Special Procedures for Admission of Foreign Students in the Guide for Graduate Students.
What foreign-language requirements will I have to meet?
Requirements differ considerably for a concentration in Egyptology and other fields.
For most fields, no foreign language is required for the M.A., but the M.A. in Egyptology
requires either German or French.
For the Ph.D. in most fields, you must demonstrate a reading proficiency in at least
one non-English language as directly related to your dissertation field as possible,
as determined by the dissertation director. This requirement is a minimum for all
Ph.D. candidates — you must pass an examination in all languages (however many) that
your Advisory Committee considers necessary for expertise in your primary area(s)
of research. In most cases, students in U.S. history will need only one language,
and usually it can be a language already studied. The Ph.D. in Egyptology requires
both German and French, and students must take six credits of Middle Egyptian in the
Art History Department or show they have successfully completed first-year Middle
How will I get advised as a graduate History major?
The Graduate Coordinator advises both M.A. and Ph.D. students. The Graduate Coordinator
is Dr Daniel Unowsky, 131 Mitchell Hall, 901.678.3385. Telephone or e-mail to make an appointment.
Will I have to meet with my advisor every semester?
Not every semester. But you must do so before you register for the first time, and
at least once a year afterwards. This is necessary for you to obtain advising clearance
from the Graduate Coordinator in order to register.
How many graduate History classes will I have to take to get a degree?
For the M.A. it depends on whether or not you write a thesis. You must have a total
of 33 credits if you decide not to write a thesis, and 30 credits if you write a thesis
(24 credits of coursework, and 6 credits of thesis).
For the Ph.D. you must have a minimum of 60 credits of regular graduate course work
beyond the bachelor’s degree, excluding dissertation credit (more than 60 hours may
be required in some fields). You must have a minimum of 12 credits for the dissertation.
You must distribute your credits over three fields. The minimums for these fields
are difficult to explain in a few words, so please go to the section on Ph.D. fields in the Guide for Graduate Students.
How many graduate History classes may I take?
You may take as many History classes as you wish, but to receive a degree you must
have some variety in the courses you take.
For the M.A. program, you may not count more than 21 credits in a particular field
toward the total of 30 or 33 hours required for the degree.
For the Ph.D. program, at least one of your minor fields (minimum of 12 credits) must
be in a geographical area different from that of your major field.
I don’t seek a graduate degree in History. May I take History courses anyway?
Yes, if you have been admitted to the Graduate School you may take any graduate course
for which you meet the pre-requisites. We often have students from other fields taking
May I audit a History class instead of taking it for credit?
Yes, if you are a registered student at The University of Memphis and you have the
prior approval of the instructor and the department chair. Fees for audits will be
assessed on the same basis as fees for credit courses.
If you are a totally and permanently disabled Tennessee resident, incapacitated from
working at an income-producing occupation, or a Tennessee resident 60 years or older,
you may audit courses on a space-available basis without paying tuition charges.
I don’t qualify for admission to your graduate program at the moment. May I take History
Students who do not meet all requirements of the program or applicants who apply too
late for admission for a given semester are eligible to take courses as non-degree
students. Up to 12 credits of this work may later be counted toward a graduate degree
upon admission to a degree program.
If I have earned graduate credits elsewhere, will I get credit for them if I transfer
to your school?
Yes, under certain conditions.
For the M.A. degree, you may transfer a maximum of 12 semester hours of credit from
another college or university, provided these credits are no more than 6 years old
when you receive the M.A. degree and there can be no transfer of credit for grades
less than B.
For the Ph.D. degree, with the approval of your Advisory Committee you may count a
maximum of 30 hours from your M.A. degree. (There are certain conditions for these
credits for the Ph.D. that are difficult to state in a few words. Please refer to
the section on transferring credits in the Guide for Graduate Students for a complete answer.)
I can’t take classes on your campus. Do you offer any alternatives?
Yes, but the choices are somewhat limited. The online Master of Arts degree in history will enable students to complete all requirements for the degree online, but not
all courses and not all fields of study listed in our graduate catalog are available
online. Some of our courses that enroll both undergraduate and graduate students are
taught at satellite campuses, usually during evening and weekend hours. But M.A. students
are allowed only 6 credits (2 courses) of such courses (online M.A. students may take
9 credits at present) and Ph.D. students may take only 6 credits more.
You may take a course through Study Abroad. For many years, Dr Dennis Laumann has taken a group of students to Ghana in the Ghana Study Abroad Program, which gives academic credit as well as cultural experience. From time to time, other
courses are arranged, such as the one that Dr Laumann and Dr Daniel Unowsky conducted
during the summer of 2009 in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic in connection
with a study of genocide, Dr Laumann’s study/tour of Brazil and Dr Peter Brand and Dr Suzanne Onstine’s study/tour
of Egypt in the summer of 2010.
May I take Regents Online Degree Programs (RODP) courses?
No. Regents courses are designed primarily for undergraduate students. There are a
few graduate-level programs but there is not one in History.
I have already been admitted to the graduate program and am trying to register in
a History class, but the system tells me that the class is closed. Is there any way
I can enroll in the class?
Perhaps. If the class is closed because of heavy enrollment, the instructor may or
may not be willing to accept more students. Some classes may be closed to students
who do not meet the prerequisites for them and you may have to show that you do meet
the requirements. You will find full instructions in a PDF form for requesting enrollment in a closed class.
What are your faculty members like?
The Department of History at The University of Memphis can give you good training.
We have more than two dozen well-trained scholars with expertise in most time periods,
regions of the world, and subject matter. All our full-time faculty members hold a
doctorate degree. If you take courses that enroll both undergraduate and graduate
students, they may be taught by teaching assistants or part-time instructors. All
of our teaching assistants and part-time instructors are required to hold a master’s
degree; many of our part-time instructors hold a doctorate degree. Read about our faculty.
What student organizations do you have?
You will be associated with fine students. Both undergraduates and graduate students
may join the Epsilon Nu chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary organization for history. Graduate students must have a GPA
of at least 3.5 on all courses completed for graduate credit and no failing grade
on any course. Anyone is welcome to attend its pizza lunches, which are held several
times a semester to hear presentations on historical subjects. All graduate students
in history may become members of the Graduate History Association, the Transcending Boundaries reading group, and the Graduate Association for African-American History. Graduate students in Egyptology may become members of the interdisciplinary Egyptology
Graduate Student Association.
What financial aid is available to me?
The department has a limited number of assistantships, divided into grading and teaching
assistantships. M.A. students normally apply for grading assistantships and Ph.D.
students for teaching assistantships. Normally, grading assistants assist a professor
in a large lecture section, attend the professor’s lectures, grade examinations and
papers, lead discussion sections, and consult with students. Teaching assistants normally
grade for the first year that they have an assistantship and then teach one class
the first semester of the second year. After that the normal assignment is to teach
two sections of World Civilizations (History 1110 or 1120) or U.S. History (History
2010 or 2020) per semester. However, we are increasingly asking teaching assistants
to grade after the first year, because we believe that doing so will leave much more
time for their work.
At present grading assistantships pay $7300 per academic year, plus all tuition and
fees; teaching assistantships pay $8600, plus tuition and fees. In addition, in the
recent past we have able to offer an additional stipend which came out on average
to approximately $1000 per assistant because some assistants are eligible for government
financial aid (not a loan, but pay for work as a graduate assistant), and we can spread
out our savings to other assistants.
In addition to assistantships, the department has several fellowships for Ph.D. students:
the Ruth and Harry Woodbury Fellowship in Southern History, the Dr. William R. and
Helen Lucille Gillaspie Scholarship in Latin American History, the Dr. Peggy Jemison
Bodine Dissertation Fellowship, and the Belle McWilliams Dissertation Fellowship.
The stipends vary from year to year because of changes in endowment earnings.
Students who are ABD may apply to the department’s Graduate Awards Committee for a
Dissertation Research Grant for funding for research and travel that is specifically
related to completing the dissertation.
Annually, the department gives the Best Teaching Assistant Award and the Major L.
Wilson Graduate Paper Prize for the best paper written in a departmental graduate
course. Every two years, the department gives the Best Thesis and Best Dissertation
Awards. The Graduate Awards Committee periodically gives the Best Prospectus Award.
All of these carry small monetary awards.
Beyond the department, graduate students may qualify for financial aid from the Graduate School or the federal government.
If I do not choose to live elsewhere, does the university have housing for me and
The university has 150 apartments for graduates and married students, located about
a mile south of the main campus.
I have lots of questions that aren’t in this FAQ. Where can I find answers?
The links on our page for graduate students, especially the comprehensive Guide for Graduate Students, may be all you need. If you still have questions, send an e-mail message to Dr Daniel Unowsky, the Graduate Coordinator — he will be glad to help you.