Graduate Degree - History - Doctor of Philosophy

History - Doctor of Philosophy
Program Code:
7611 History
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Philosophy
Start Term:
College of Social Science
Relevant Excerpt(s) from Academic Programs:
Department of History
Relevant Excerpt(s) from Academic Programs:

Excerpt from the official Academic Programs Catalog:

Listed below are the approved requirements for the program from the official Academic Programs Catalog.
Students must consult their advisors to learn which specific requirements apply to their degree programs.
Requirements as represented in Degree Navigator are not available for this program.

College of Social Science

Department of History

Graduate Study
History - Doctor of Philosophy

The program leading to the doctoral degree with a major in history is designed to provide wide knowledge in several fields of history, specialized competence in a limited area, and research techniques that will prepare the student for a career in teaching, research, government service, private industry, and other areas of professional historical activity.

The following fields of study are available to doctoral students in the department:
    Ancient history
    Medieval history
    Early modern European history
    Modern Western European history
    Russian history
    East European history
    American history
    African–American history
    History of the Atlantic world
    Latin American and Caribbean history
    Comparative Black history
    African history
    Asian history
    The history of women and gender relations

The department recognizes the high importance of developing among its doctoral candidates a proficiency in college teaching. To the limit of its resources, it undertakes to provide experience in teaching in the form of graduate assistantships, along with organized discussions of the ends and means of the teaching career.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.


Students are admitted to the program for fall semester only.  The department must receive all application materials by January 1.  Decisions on admission are announced on or shortly after March 31.  In making admissions decisions, the department considers the competencies of the faculty and the needs of students and the profession.

To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in history, an applicant must:

  1. Have the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and the Subject Test in History forwarded to the department.
  2. Submit a term paper to the department that the applicant considers to be a fair representation of his or her ability in research and writing.
  3. Include in a letter required by the college a 500-1000 word statement that addresses the applicant’s goals in pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in history.
  4. Have at least three individuals, preferably scholars with whom the applicant has had course work or other professional contact, submit letters of recommendation to the department.

To be admitted to the program with regular status, an applicant must demonstrate the appropriate reading and/or speaking knowledge in one foreign language relevant to the student’s doctoral study. Applicants without a master’s degree or 30 credits of approved course work, including History 803 or its equivalent; significant course work in historiography and content in the major field; and two minor areas of concentration; will be admitted provisionally. The graduate director and/or advisor will advise students regarding the removal of deficiencies and the completion of a specified number of collateral courses before regular admission to the Ph.D. in History is granted. Applicants completing these pre-Ph.D. courses will acquire a graduate academic record equivalent to the course requirements of the Master of Arts in History.

In addition, an international applicant is required to have fulfilled the university's English language proficiency requirement as described in the Graduate Education section of this catalog in one of the following three ways:

  1. Have a total score of 580 (paper version) or 237 (computer version) or above on the Test of English as a Foreign Language with no subscore below 55 (paper version) or 21 (computer version) and have the approval of the English Language Center.
  2. Have an average score of 85 or higher on the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery with no subscore below 83 and have the approval of the English Language Center.
  3. Have an average score of 85 or higher on the English Language Center Test with no subscore below 83 and have the approval of the English Language Center.

Applicants for doctoral study should understand that the department can offer no assurance that all of the areas of professional specialization will be available to students at any particular time. It is essential that persons with specific, clearly defined academic interests communicate with the Graduate Director before making firm plans to enroll in the doctoral program.

Guidance Committee

Students entering the doctoral program will be guided by the graduate director in the selection of courses for the first year. By the end of the second semester, students should choose their major professor and their guidance committee. The committee shall consist of at least four members: two represent the student’s major field, one of whom shall chair the student’s guidance committee and direct the dissertation. In addition, two faculty members, one from each of the student’s chosen two minor fields, will serve on the committee.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in History

The student must:

  1. Complete at least 3 credits in the historiography courses specified by the graduate advisor or guidance committee.
  2. Complete at least 9 credits in additional 800-900 level courses in a major field of history as specified by the student’s guidance committee. The major field should be the field in which the student plans to focus research for the dissertation. The available major fields of history are referenced above.
  3. Complete at least 6 credits in each of the student’s two minor fields or in one minor field of history and in one minor field in a related discipline.
  4. Student must demonstrate knowledge of a second foreign language before they may take the comprehensive examinations. This requirement for students formally admitted to the Ph.D. program can be fulfilled by one of these three options:
    1. Competency in an additional (second) foreign language.
    2. With approval of the student’s guidance committee, the student may substitute certification in humanities computing for the second foreign language.
    3. With the approval of the student’s guidance committee, the student may complete courses in a supporting discipline such as statistics, philosophy, economics, or anthropology in lieu of demonstrating knowledge of a second foreign language. The supporting discipline shall constitute the student’s third minor field. A faculty member in the supporting discipline shall be added as a fifth member of the student’s guidance committee.
  5. Pass the following comprehensive examinations:
    1. A 3-4 hour written examination in the student’s major field and a 3-4 hour written examination in each of the student’s minor fields. This requirement must be satisfied during one semester of enrollment in the program and should be completed during the fifth semester.
    2. An oral examination of up to three hours. This requirement must be satisfied after the student has passed the written examinations.
    3. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Academic Standards

A student who does not demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language during the first year of enrollment in the program will not be permitted to enroll in any courses, with the exception of courses in a foreign language, until that requirement has been satisfied.