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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Foreign Language Requirement in the Ph.D. Program

If your dissertation is in a non-US field, 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. You must demonstrate this proficiency by reading and translating a selection from a historical work or source assigned by the examiner. This requirement is a minimum for all Ph.D. candidates in non-US fields; 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. The language requirement, if any, for students in U.S. history is determined by your Advisory Committee, which can waive the requirement completely. Be sure to have your committee enter their decision to waive this exam on your Ph.D. Planning form when you meet with them during your first year in the program. You must pass all required language exams before taking the comprehensive examination.

The Department of Foreign Languages (DFL) will administer Ph.D. language examinations in all languages in which it has a specialist. DFL agrees to the following as its standard procedure, although it is willing to make special accommodations (such as a suggestion for a text or different requirements for the exam) as determined by a student’s committee: “The exam will assess the reading skill of the candidate and will be geared at the 2202 level. Also, every effort will be made to select a passage to be translated relating to the candidate’s field of interest. Each exam will last from one hour to an hour and a half and will be based on translating a passage ranging from one to one-and-a-half pages. Moreover, candidates may use dictionaries to assist them.” “Dictionaries” refers to books whose purpose is to translate words between two or more languages; you are not allowed to use grammar books, verb books, etc. in the exam.

To arrange for the exam, you should contact the appropriate professor in DFL, who will also be able to advise you on texts to study and how to prepare for the exam. At present, you should contact one of the following:

These contacts may change. If you can’t reach the proper person, or you wish to take an examination for a language not listed, contact the DFL main office. Most language professors will arrange to give an acceptable exam at the conclusion of an intermediate-level language course. But this is not necessarily the normal exam for such classes, so you must speak to them ahead of time to see if it is possible to arrange. It is not currently the policy of the department to accept a passing grade in such a course in lieu of the exam, but if you have had many courses in a language or can otherwise demonstrate proficiency far beyond the intermediate level, talk to the Graduate Coordinator to see if you can be exempted from the exam.

It is your responsibility to arrange for a language proficiency examination before taking the comprehensive examination.

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Last Updated: 3/12/14