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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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Timetable for the Doctoral Program

You can find the specific dates for various deadlines in the student calendars provided by the Registrar’s Office. By far the most important calendar is the one for graduation deadlines provided by the Graduate School. Consult these calendars frequently, especially at the beginning of each semester, to make sure that you keep up with deadlines. Failure to meet deadlines will delay your graduation.

1. Apply for admission and/or assistantship:

Apply for admission, and, if you are interested, for a graduate assistantship. See above, Application Procedures and Application to the Ph.D. Program and for an Assistantship, for details and deadlines. Get the admissions application at and the assistantship application at (pdf).

2. Be advised and get registration clearance:

Once the Graduate School informs you of your admission into the Ph.D. program, contact the Graduate Coordinator for an advising appointment. You will not be able to register until you do this. Make sure that the Coordinator has your e-mail address, and let the Coordinator know whenever this changes. All our communications are by e-mail, and failure to keep your address up to date may mean that you miss crucial messages, which could affect your status. After advising, the Coordinator will clear you to register. Do not ask anyone else to clear you; only the Graduate Coordinator can do this. Register at the assigned time using the myMemphis Web-based registration system. See

Thereafter, meet with the Graduate Coordinator at least once a year for advising and clearance. When going for advising, take an updated planning form ( and an advising form signed by the members of your Advisory Committee (for early Ph.D. students (MS Word)) or Dissertation Committee (for ABD students (MS Word)).

Begin the Ph.D. planning form, available at (MS Word). Take an up-to-date version of this form to your advising meeting with the Advisory Committee and when asking committee members to sign the advising form.

3. In consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and a prospective major advisor, select your dissertation field and two minor fields and discuss who should be on your Advisory Committee. Talk to each of these professors and ask them to be on the committee.

During your first, or at the latest the second, semester, meet with this Advisory Committee, which must include a major professor with Full Graduate Faculty status (and if possible another professor in the major field) and at least two other Graduate Faculty members to represent the minor fields. Submit a copy of the planning form, with your committee’s recommendations and requirements, to the Graduate Coordinator. Make sure that your committee fills in the section on the second page provided for them to itemize all that they require for you to advance to comps, including any foreign language requirement or waiver. Keep this form up to date and discuss proposed changes with your Advisory Committee. After approval of changes, submit a revised planning form to the Graduate Coordinator.

At the end of your first and second year consider the written evaluation of your Advisory Committee concerning your performance. Unless they say that you are doing well and mention no problems, meet with each of the members individually to discuss your options.

4. Transfer credits from another school if necessary:

If you want to use any credits from another school (see above, under Previously Earned Credits), and your Advisory Committee and the Graduate Coordinator approve this, fill out the Transfer Credit Evaluation (For Doctoral Degree Programs Only) form at (pdf).

5. Complete all course requirements (see above, under Ph.D. Requirements and Restrictions). From the beginning you will need consciously to prepare for the comprehensive exam (see above, under Comprehensive Examination).

6. Take the language examination(s), if required (see above, under Foreign Language Requirement). You must pass all required language exams before completing the comprehensive exam.

7. Prepare for and take the Comprehensive Exam (see above, under Ph. D. Comprehensive Examination):

Assemble your Comprehensive Examination Committee, which normally has the same membership as the Advisory Committee. Fill out a committee form, available at (pdf), obtain all committee signatures, and submit it to the history office and Graduate Coordinator. The Graduate School does not need this form at this point. Write the written comprehensive essays in all fields, including two papers or one longer one in the major field, and the oral exam that follows. Submit the Comprehensive Examination form,, to the history office and Graduate Coordinator.

8. Present your dissertation prospectus and write your dissertation (see above, under Ph.D. Dissertation):

Select your dissertation topic. Choose the Dissertation Committee; those not at The University of Memphis must apply for Adjunct Graduate Faculty status; get the form for this at Fill out a committee form, available at, obtain all committee signatures, and submit it to the office and Graduate Coordinator. The office will pass it on to the Graduate School.

Prepare your dissertation prospectus. Get your committee’s permission to present it, have your chair e-mail the Graduate Coordinator to this effect, e-mail the Graduate Coordinator to schedule your presentation on one of the days set aside for this, send the Graduate Coordinator a copy of the prospectus and an invitation to the department to attend your presentation, and present it in a public colloquy. With the approval of the Dissertation Committee, submit the form to the Graduate School, history office, and Graduate Coordinator.

Write your dissertation in consultation with your advisor and, if it would be helpful, with your other committee members. For the proper format of the dissertation, see above, under Dissertation.

Maintain your active status and continuous enrollment by registering for at least one (1) hour of dissertation credit per semester, not including summer school. Have your dissertation director sign the dissertation enrollment form,, and take it to Karen Jackett, who will enter a permit. You will not need any form for clearance for the semester following the passing of the comprehensive exam or the term following the prospectus defense. In those cases, simply ask the Graduate Coordinator for clearance and Karen Jackett to enter the permit for dissertation hours.

You may not take dissertation credits until you have passed the comps and submitted the form to the Graduate School. You may, however, take dissertation credits before you have presented your prospectus.

9. One month before the end of the semester before the one in which you intend to graduate, give each member of your dissertation committee a complete rough draft of your dissertation and meet with the committee before the end of the earlier semester to discuss what revisions are necessary to produce an acceptable dissertation.

10. Defend your dissertation and graduate:

For the forms that the Graduate School requires for graduation, deadlines, and detailed instructions, see

Very early in the semester of graduation (be sure to check the deadline) you must do two things: 1. file the “Application for Admission to Doctoral Degree Candidacy” form, (You only have to submit this once, even if you don't graduate in the semester that you first submit it). List only courses that are eligible to count toward the degree), and 2. “Apply to Graduate” from your MyMemphis portal (

You must bring the Candidacy form to the Graduate Coordinator for approval before submitting it.

Before you defend your dissertation, get a dissertation defense scheduling form from and schedule the defense with the committee members. Be sure to schedule it before the Graduate School deadline for the semester. At least a week before the defense notify the Graduate Coordinator of the time, place, and dissertation title. In addition to the defense form, take a black pen and three copies of the signature page of the dissertation, on the correct paper and in the correct format, to the defense for your committee to sign. You will only need one, but it is a good idea to have some spares.

Submit a paper copy of the final draft to the Graduate School, including the signature page, for approval by the dean.

After both your committee and the Graduate School have approved the dissertation, submit the electronic version of your dissertation by the deadline, along with an abstract of not more than 350 words. See for all matters relating to submission and format.

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