Program of Study

The Ph.D. Program in American Civilization recognizes the candidate’s command of specific fields of history as well as the ability to conceive and execute a dissertation. After completing course work and successfully passing qualifying exams, Ph.D. students work under the supervision of a dissertation director and faculty committee to complete a major research project that produces new historical knowledge or reshapes existing historical understanding.

The Ph.D. track students must fulfill the following requirements:

1. Complete 30 credits of graduate work, of which at least 21 credits must be in history.
The history credits must include the following:

  • Students in their first semester will take “The Art and Craft of Innovative History.”
  • Four reading seminars
  • Two research and writing seminars

2. Professional Development Portfolio:

Every entering Ph.D. student will begin to keep a portfolio of his or her accomplishments in courses, teaching, and professional development during matriculation in the graduate program. The portfolio, which will serve multiple purposes, will include a number of important items that students will be responsible for compiling, providing students with a tangible vehicle to participate in progressing toward candidacy. The Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee reviews the portfolio as part of the post-3rd semester review. The portfolio is used to gage whether a student is prepared well enough to move forward to the Qualifying Exams taken in the fall semester of the 3rd year.

3. Demonstration of Reading Competence in a Foreign Language:

Entering Ph.D. track students are encouraged to take a language examination as soon as possible and are expected to have met their language requirement before taking the qualifying exams in the fall of their third year. Students may retake a language examination until receiving a passing grade. Foreign language competence will be demonstrated by successfully translating two passages of a foreign language chosen by the student during a scheduled two-hour exam in the history department conference room.

4. Passage of Qualifying Exams. Link to our Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Guidelines. Students in the History of American Civilization program will take a field in some aspect of Material Culture studies as one of their three qualifying exams.

5. Prospectus Defense:

During the spring of their third year, students who have passed their qualifying exams must submit a written dissertation prospectus to their dissertation directors and hold a prospectus defense.

6. Presentation of Dissertation-Based Research Paper: DIPSOP (Dissertation in Progress and Occasional Papers)

Within one year of passing the qualifying exams, each student will present a research paper, based on his or her dissertation, to a departmental assembly of graduate students and faculty members. Two commentators, one a graduate student and one a faculty member will lead a discussion session of the paper. The faculty commentator should not be the student’s advisor, but may be someone from the dissertation committee.

7. Completion of a Ph.D. Dissertation:

The dissertation must make a significant contribution to historical knowledge, uphold professional standards of research and interpretation, and be written in clear, well- organized English prose.