Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
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Guide for Graduate Students

Doctor of Philosophy in History

The program
Admission requirements
Nature of course offerings
Fields of study
Requirements and restrictions
Previously earned credits
Time limitation
Foreign language requirement
Comprehensive examination
Reading lists for Ph.D. comprehensive examination fields
Timetable for doctoral program
Forms and applications

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Application to the Ph.D. Program and for an Assistantship

Application to the Ph.D. Program and for an Assistantship

Note that there are two separate applications, one for admission ( and another for the assistantship ( Both applications require some of the same materials, but you need only send each item once. Make sure that your recommendations primarily address your academic qualifications and not just your character or competence and reliability as an assistant. They should also evaluate your previous graduate, not undergraduate, work.

For admission: The Graduate Admissions Committee evaluates all applicants for a given semester at the same time. The deadlines to submit all required application materials are January 15 for summer or fall semester admission, the same date that the separate assistantship application is due, and September 15 for spring semester admission. The April 15 deadline mentioned above is for M.A. applicants only.

New students applying for the Ph.D. program must be admitted to the Graduate School. You should send or have sent all transcripts, test scores, and fees directly to Graduate Admissions, The University of Memphis, 100 Wilder Tower, Memphis, TN 38152, not to the Department of History. Note that when the Graduate School tells you that your application is complete, it is referring only to the materials that they require you to send to it, not what the department requires in addition.

You should send any other supporting materials, such as letters of recommendation, writing samples, or personal statements, directly to the Department of History. We prefer for all materials sent to the Department of History (as opposed to the Graduate School), whether for admission or for an assistantship, to be in electronic form (docx, doc, rtf, or pdf). Letters of recommendation are confidential, so they are acceptable only if they come directly from the professor, either signed and on department letterhead or from the professor’s college e-mail account. Please send these materials to our graduate secretary, Karen Jackett, at You should send paper documents to her at 219 Mitchell Hall, Memphis, TN 38152-3450.

Three weeks after all the material has been sent to the department, whether for the application or the assistantship, please e-mail Karen Jackett to confirm that we have gotten everything.

Applications take four to eight weeks to process after the due dates; the Department of History's Admissions Committee and other appropriate faculty review all applications before making a recommendation about admission to the Graduate School.

Note that it often takes a frustrating amount of time for test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation to arrive, so arrange for them early. If you apply too late or do not yet meet all the requirements, you can still register for a time as a non-degree student (see above, under Application Procedures).

All credentials become the property of the university, which will not forward or return them. We will maintain your credentials in an active file for at least one year.

If you are admitted, but do not register for the term for which you are admitted, or fail to register for every Fall and Spring term, the Graduate School will require you to fill out a short on-line readmissions application before beginning or resuming your study. Get the form at

For assistantship: To apply for an assistantship for the following academic year, send your application to the Department of History by January 15, using the same guidelines as for the admissions application above. Send unofficial transcripts and test scores to the department only if they have not arrived at the Graduate School. You may use the three letters of recommendation for admission for the assistantship as well, although you may wish to send additional letters addressing your suitability for an assistantship. We normally make decisions about graduate assistantships for the following academic year by April 1.

Normally, Ph.D. students apply for a teaching assistantship.

All credentials become the property of the Department of History, which will not forward or return them. We will maintain your credentials in an active file for at least one year.

As full-time students, assistants at the Ph.D. level are expected to pass their comprehensive exam by the beginning of their seventh Fall/Spring semester. Those who do not will not be able to renew their assistantships, except under exceptional circumstances.

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Last Updated: 3/12/14