Ph.D. Degree in History


Welcome to the Ph.D. program in History! The doctorate is the highest degree available to students of history. It is the degree appropriate for those seeking teaching, administrative, or research positions in colleges and universities, foundations, government agencies and major libraries or archives. It is also appropriate for high school teachers or informed citizens with prior training who want to develop their historical interests to the fullest in a rigorous, professional atmosphere.


Students applying to the Ph.D. program must hold a master's degree. The doctorate entails 72 credit hours of coursework. Thirty credit hours are typically drawn from the M.A. degree. Ph.D. students usually take an additional 24 credit hours of coursework. The remaining credit hours come from work toward their candidacy examination and doctoral dissertation. Our program allows students to study in numerous fields and work closely with faculty advisors.

During the first stage of the doctoral program while pursuing coursework, the student pursues two goals:

  • preparing three field essays and a teaching portfolio and taking a follow-up oral exam
  • developing and defending a prospectus for the dissertation.

Doctoral students must also demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages at an average level or in one foreign language at a high level.


In the second and final stage of the doctoral program, students register for History 799 (Doctoral Research and Dissertation). Once a prospective director for the dissertation has been identified and a committee of three faculty members has approved the proposed dissertation topic, the student undertakes research in a substantial body of primary sources and produces an original work of historical scholarship in the form of the doctoral dissertation. See our current dissertations in progress and recently completed dissertations.

Career Development

Doctoral students should also expect to prepare for employment by participating in professional conferences, seeking external funding for research, submitting research for publication, and playing an active role in departmental events. Most funded doctoral students will also teach at least one independent section during their assistantship period. Our students who have prepared well for the job market have a strong record of placement in academic and non-academic positions.

For more information, consult:

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