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Graduate Program

PhD Program

The PhD program of the Department of History offers individually tailored programs with opportunities for transnational and comparative study. Students design their own programs of study in consultation with their advisors in accord with their own intellectual and research interests. Through a mix of directed readings, independent study, and research seminars, students aim to balance understanding of particulars with an enriched sense of contexts.

Together the student and their advisor will use the Advising Worksheet (see handbook) to formulate the student’s academic plans. This worksheet will then be used to complete the Program of Study Form (see handbook), which is submitted to the graduate coordinator to obtain approval from the graduate studies office.

In order to complete their Advising Worksheet, the student and their advisor will need to determine 1] two research fields and two teaching fields in which the student will be examined and the identity of the department faculty member who will conduct the examination in each field, 2] a provisional list of twelve courses that the student will take in the first two years of study, and 3] a list of languages, if any, that the student must master in order to complete significant research.

Courses should be selected with an eye to the broadest possible coverage within fields. This is particularly important in the light of current academic employment opportunities; i.e., institutions of higher learning increasingly insist that their junior faculty be equipped to teach general survey courses in American, European, or transnational history, and also in at least one topical field. It is not unusual for individuals hired in an American history position to be asked to teach Western or World Civilization, and vice versa. Hence the dangers of overly narrow specialization are apparent, and students may be encouraged to take a course beyond those required. It is the responsibility of the student and of the student’s advisor to arrange the program with these facts in mind.

Students are expected to master the foundational knowledge in their research and teaching fields. Research fields are specialized and concentrated interests that should support dissertation work. Students will be required to read at least 35 books or article equivalents, the titles to be worked out in consultation with their examiner. At least one research field must be transnational or comparative in nature. Teaching fields are understood as those that qualify students to teach basic introductory or survey history courses. These generally will be national, regional, or global fields. Students are expected to master the foundational knowledge in these fields. Faculty will post the teaching fields in which they will examine and provide a list of fifty significant texts to any interested student. Although the department makes every effort to alert students of the courses available for them during their first two years, leaves, retirements, and other exigencies often intervene. Likewise, students find new interests and develop their own reading courses if relevant courses are not available. When changes occur, students will need to update their advising worksheet and file a new Program of Study Form with the graduate coordinator for approval.

With the approval of the director of graduate studies,students may have two co-advisors from the department who share equally in supervising the dissertation. The development of a dissertation topic should begin early in the student’s program. This will enable the student to shape the work in seminars in such a way as to lay the foundation for the dissertation.

For more information about the PhD program and to see a list of requirements, see the PhD handbook.