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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Nature of the Course Offerings in the Ph.D. Program

Students in the Ph.D. program may enroll for credit in all courses on the 6000 and 8000 level. If a course has only a 7000 component, you may take it at that level. You can find details on the content of each graduate course for the semester in the departmental minicatalog, (MS Doc).

Courses on the 6000 level are open to both graduate students and upperclass undergraduate students. These courses usually center around lectures and discussions and survey an entire period, enabling students to fill in their backgrounds. In addition to the lecture materials, readings, and examinations required of the undergraduates, graduate students are expected to do a significant amount of additional work. By close consultation with your professor about the precise nature of this additional assignment, you may be able to do work in accord with your interests and needs. If you have taken a course at the 4000 level (undergraduate), or its equivalent, you cannot take it again at the 6000 level. Only six credits of 6000-level coursework from your M.A and 6 from your Ph.D. work may count toward the degree.

7000 and 8000-level courses are the same in content, meeting times, and usually similar in requirements, although more is expected of Ph.D. students; they differ in the fact that M.A. students register at the 7000 level and Ph.D. students at the 8000 level. If you have taken any of the courses described in the graduate catalog at the 7000 level, you may not take them again at the 8000 level, unless their content has completely changed; see graduate course descriptions.

Courses on the 8000 level are open only to graduate students and are usually limited to a class size of 15 or fewer. With a few exceptions (History 8070, 8090, and courses that don’t count toward the degree) these courses are designed primarily to survey the important secondary works on a period, a part of a period, or a theme and to familiarize students with leading scholarly interpretations. The emphasis is on extensive reading, rather than on a major writing project on some narrow topic. Class discussions of common readings, written critiques, and student presentations, rather than the lecture, are the basic format of these courses. Those 8000-level courses designated “Studies in...,” “Thematic Studies in...,” “Topics in History,” or “Research Seminar” typically differ from term to term, and if this is the case you can retake them them as often as you like.

Courses with historiography in their names are designed to give broad coverage of the important scholarship in an entire field. All Ph.D. students must take at least one of these, in their major field. You are encouraged to take historiography courses in your other fields as well, and your field advisors may require you to do so. Most years we intend to offer historiography courses in all of the fields in which we specialize: U.S history before 1877, U.S history after 1877, African American history, modern European history, and Egyptian history. Historiography courses in other fields may be available occasionally.

History 8012 is a directed readings course taken individually with a professor. By advance consultation with and approval by a professor, students can arrange for directed readings in a field of interest not offered as a regular class, fill in gaps in knowledge in preparation for the comprehensive examination, or investigate possibilities for a dissertation topic. Taking this course requires the express agreement of the professor who will direct it; no one has the right to a directed readings course. You must file a directed readings registration form ( (pdf) with the department office prior to enrolling. Ph.D. candidates normally may enroll for no more than 6 hours of directed readings, but we may give permission to take 6 more, for a total of 12 hours, upon petition to the Graduate Coordinator. In this case you must (1) supply the Coordinator with a description of both the previous readings course and the one under consideration (including a list of books read) and (2) state the reasons why a second readings course is necessary. It is our policy not to approve readings courses if you are able to attend a class that covers the same or similar general topics.

History 8070 is a research seminar. The emphasis is on research using primary materials in announced topics and in the preparation of a scholarly paper. All Ph.D. students must take at least two 8070 seminars, including 7070 classes taken at the M.A. level. A M.A. thesis satisfies the requirements for one of these.

History 8990, Reading for and Writing Comprehensives, is a course designed for you to take at the end of your coursework to allow you to undertake intensive individual study for the comprehensive exam and/or write the exam. This course will not count if you take it earlier. You must take three credits of it in each field and may take up to six credits in the major field, in each of which you will be expected to make progress toward the exam. The timetable for completing the exam is determined by the professors in consultation with you, and need not be before the end of this course. So long as you are making progress toward the exam you should always receive a S grade, not an IP. You need to fill out a form to register for this class. Get it at (pdf).

History 8991, Independent Readings, is an individualized readings course for students preparing for comprehensive examinations. Credit is not applicable to the degree. Normally only assistants take this, but you can take it at any stage of your program. You need to fill out a form to register for this class. Get it at (pdf).

Assistants are required to take History 8025 (Principles & Practices in History Education), a rigorous readings course exploring approaches to the teaching of history. Non-assistants are also encouraged to take this course.

History 9000 is the course number assigned for dissertation credit. You may take as many credits of this as you like, but only 12 will count toward the degree. You need to fill out a form to register for this class. Get it at (pdf)

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