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

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Ph.D. Program Requirements and Restrictions

Note: History students should follow the format recommended by the most recent edition of Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). The Chicago Manual of Style is also acceptable. Note that both manuals also give formats for the work-cited format, which is not the one we require (the notes-bibliography format). Everyone should have a copy of one of these books.

1. A minimum of 60 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, excluding dissertation credit.

2. 12 hours of History 9000 (Doctoral Dissertation), for a minimum total of 72 graduate credits.

3. The final 30 hours of the 72 hours must be taken at The University of Memphis.

4. At most 6 credits of MA courses and 6 credits of PhD courses at the 6000-level, none of which may be in the major field, unless the advisory committee approves it. In special cases, the advisory committee may allow up to 15 credits at the 6000-level. Those in the Ancient Egypt concentration may take more than 6 hours with the permission of the Egyptology faculty.

5. A historiography course in the major field. We recommend historiography courses in the other fields, and your field advisors may require it. If your major field is one without a formal historiography class, you must arrange with your major advisor to do it as a Directed Readings, within the format of a Studies class, or independently.

6. As part of the 60 hours, at least six hours in Research Seminars (History 8070 or the equivalent); however, if you have completed a Master’s thesis in history you may count it as one of these seminars. You can also count any 7070 classes you took.

7. As part of the 60 hours, History 8011 (Philosophy and Theory of History) or its equivalent. We also recommend but no longer require History 8100 (Global Historiography).

8. As part of the 60 hours, 3 credits in History 8990 (Reading for and Writing Comprehensives) in each of the fields, with the option for 3 additional credits of History 8990 in the major field.

9. No more than 6 credits of History 8012 (Directed Readings), although you may petition the Graduate Coordinator for up to an additional 6 credits. For any Directed Readings class you will need to fill out and have the professor sign a form. See above, under Nature of the Course Offerings, for the procedure.

10. No grade of C+ or lower may count toward the required number of credits.

11. The following courses do not count toward the 60 credits: History 8020 (Seminar for Teaching Assistants), History 8021 (Colloquium for Graduate Assistants), History 8022 (Teaching Skills for Graduate Assistants), History 8991 (Independent Readings), and History 9000 (Doctoral Dissertation).

12. The 60 credits is a minimum; it is up to the Advisory Committee to determine if you are fully prepared in each field, and in some cases it may require that you take additional course work.

13. Review of the student's progress by the Advisory Committee at the end of the first and second year, or the equivalent for part-time students. The committee will normally meet without the student and will always provide written feedback to the student. This will be detailed if the finding is that the student's performance is satisfactory but needs improvement or is unsatisfactory. In either of these cases the student should immediately consult with each committee member to develop a plan for improvement. Although this review is primarily designed to give guidance to the student, a committee's finding that the student's work is not satisfactory will be considered a potential cause for dismissal.

14. The university requires that the student commit to full-time study (9 credits) for a minimum of two successive semesters at some point during the degree program. This can include a summer semester, but graduate history courses are limited at that time. If this is a problem for you, be sure to discuss options with the Graduate Coordinator, since there is usually a solution. In particular, note that four Reading for and Writing Comprehensives courses (the maximum allowed) plus two more courses, taken over two consecutive semesters will fulfill the requirement.

15. A language exam in at least one foreign language (see below, under Foreign Language Requirement) for all those with a non-US major field. For those with a US major field (US before 1877, US after 1877, or African American History) it is up to the Advisory Committee to decide whether you need to pass a language exam.

16. A written and oral comprehensive examination (see below, under Comprehensive Examination).

17. A dissertation (see below, under Dissertation).

Concentration in Ancient Egyptian History: (Note: “Concentration” refers to a specific program in this area. It does not imply that this is our only area of specialization.) Those living in most southern states who are accepted in this concentration are generally eligible for the in-state tuition authorized by the Academic Common Market ( Please note that if you wish to enter the Ph.D. program in Ancient Egyptian history, you must have the explicit approval of the Egyptology faculty. At present this consists of Dr. Peter Brand,, and Dr. Suzanne Onstine, All those interested in the Egyptology concentration should write to Dr Onstine, explaining your interest and background in Egyptology and related areas, such as other ancient history, ancient Near Eastern cultures, classics, archaeology, anthropology, or Middle East studies. See for more information on the Egyptology program.

Although the department evaluates most applications twice a year, as mentioned above, the Egyptology faculty considers all current applicants as a group after January 15. This has become necessary because of the large number of applicants. Although we may accept applications after that, your best chance of admission is to apply before January 15 for the next school year. Most students begin in the Fall, but we will sometimes consider applications for Spring if you have a strong record and sufficient background.

If you choose this concentration you must take at least 12 hours of courses in the dissertation field of Ancient History that focus specifically on ancient Egyptian history. You are also expected to deepen your proficiency in Middle Egyptian, which you should have studied already before entering the Ph.D. program. Further, you must demonstrate reading knowledge of French and German before you will be allowed to take research seminars in Ancient Egypt or write your dissertation.

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