Fields of Study in the Ph.D. Program

In consultation with your major professor/advisor and Advisory Committee, you will choose three fields of study, designating one of them as your major or dissertation field.

We offer the following dissertation fields:

•    United States before 1877

•    United States after 1877

•    African American History

•    Ancient World (Ancient Egyptian History only)

•    Global History

•    Women and Gender History

•    Modern Europe 


Minor fields in (in addition to the above) include:

•    Medieval-Renaissance Europe

•    Early Modern Europe

•    Latin America

•    Africa

•    China and Japan

•    Russia

•    Near East

At least one of your minor fields must have its primary focus on a geographical region different from that of the major field. With this restriction, you may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for a minor field or fields not listed in the official list if the prospective field advisor agrees and your Advisory Committee approves. Additionally, if your major field embraces separate regions or is conventionally divided into separate fields (such as Ancient or Medieval/Renaissance), it may be subdivided into two (and only two) separate fields. With the approval of your Advisory Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee, you may take one field in another department or devise an interdisciplinary field, including courses from at least two departments. In rare instances, if you can demonstrate a compelling reason, the Graduate Studies Committee may waive the geographical requirement.

If you wish to write your dissertation on a field outside of our normal dissertation fields, you should consider applying to a university with a specialization that matches your interests. However, it is sometimes possible to write a dissertation outside of our dissertation fields if a potential faculty dissertation advisor agrees to direct you. This will usually require obtaining a second qualified major field examiner outside of the department or university. You and your advisor must also petition the Graduate Studies Committee in order to get approval for a non-standard dissertation field. In your petition, you should make clear how you intend to compensate for the lack of departmental faculty in your field.

Although we require 60 total credits (including any transfer credits) before you can complete the Comprehensive Exam, we do not require a specific number of credits in each field, leaving this determination up to your Advisory Committee. However, we recommend that students take at least eighteen credits in the major (dissertation) field, and at least twelve credits in each of the two minor fields.

Near or after completion of the required coursework in each field, you must take three credits of Reading for and Writing Comprehensives (History 8990) in your major field and three credits in each of your minor fields. You may take an extra three credits in the major field (for a total of six credits of Reading and Writing for Comprehensives in the major field). These credits count toward the 60 hours of coursework. Reading and Writing Comprehensives are part of the Comprehensive Exam process. Click here for a detailed discussion of the Comprehensive Exam.