PhD Degree Program
The Department of History also offers a program of study built upon the MA degree leading to the PhD degree. The program is designed to provide wide knowledge in two fields, more intensive preparation in a third field, and professional competence in original research and writing that will prepare the student for teaching and research in higher education or for a career in government, business, library service, and other research-related fields.
In making our decisions on admission we consider multiple factors, including transcripts and GPA, the nature of your coursework, recommendations, your writing sample and statement, your GRE scores (particularly the Verbal and Analytical Writing sections), the compatibility of our program with your interests, and availability of faculty to supervise your major field.
In most cases, you will need 24 graduate hours in history with at least a 3.25 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) from an accredited institution, or a M.A. in a related field that we judge as sufficient preparation for our PhD program. We strongly recommend an MA in history.
In addition to submitting your application and all transcripts to the Graduate School, you should submit the following, the first to the Graduate School and the rest to the History Department:
- Official GRE scores, which should include the Analytical Writing section.
- A 750-1000 work “Statement of Purpose,” in which you explain your educational goals, anticipated fields of study, and general research interests. In this statement, we expect you to demonstrate some familiarity with the history department’s program and faculty.
- Three letters of recommendation commenting on your academic ability and suitability for PhD work.
- A writing sample, consisting either of a MA thesis or a paper written for a graduate course in history (preferred) or a related field.
As part of the admission process, the Graduate Admissions Committee will seek input from department members in the applicant’s field of interest.
The Coordinator of Graduate Studies will advise students when they first enroll. During the first school year enrolled, and whenever possible within the first semester, each student will choose an advisory committee to be composed of a major professor with full graduate faculty rank and at least two other faculty members. This committee assists the student in determining such matters as fields of study, the choice of courses, acceptance of transfer credit, and acceptance of credit from the master’s degree. The committee provides all of its decisions in writing with copies to the student and to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.
All students whose major field is not in U.S. history must demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language, whenever possible one directly related to the dissertation field. Proficiency consists of acceptably translating a selection from a historical work or source. The advisory committee may require the student to demonstrate reading knowledge in two or more foreign languages. It will be up to the advisory committee to determine whether students in U.S. history must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language.
Fields of Study
- The student will choose, in consultation with the advisor, three fields of study, one of which will be designated the dissertation field.
- The advisory committee will consult with the student and determine what and how many courses will be required in each field.
- In addition to the courses required in III.D.1., the student must take near the end of coursework 3 credit hours of “Reading for and Writing Comprehensives” (HIST 8990 ) in each field, each of which is devoted to intensive individual study of the historiography of the field as a whole, compiling a bibliography of the important literature, gaining familiarity with the key debates, and writing the comprehensive examinations. The student may take up to 6 credits of HIST 8990 in the major field. No more than these 12 credits of “Reading for and Writing Comprehensives” may count toward the degree.
- Dissertation Fields
- United States before 1877
- United States after 1877
- Ancient World; normally a dissertation in Ancient History must be in the area of Egyptology.
- Modern Europe
- African American History
- Women and Gender History
- Global History
- Minor fields (in addition to the above)
- Medieval-Renaissance Europe
- Early Modern Europe
- Latin America
- China and Japan
- Near East
- The primary focus of at least one minor field must be on a geographical region different from that of the major field. With that restriction, a student may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for a field or fields not listed in the official list if the prospective field advisor agrees and the student’s advisory committee approves.
- Furthermore, the student’s major field may be subdivided into two separate fields if it embraces separate regions or is conventionally divided into separate fields (such as Ancient or Medieval-Renaissance).
- With the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, one field may be taken in another department or may be interdisciplinary, including courses from at least two departments.
- Upon approval of a petition to the Graduate Studies Committee from both the student and a prospective dissertation director, a dissertation may be completed in a field that is not normally a dissertation field.
A minimum of 60 semester hours
A minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate course work beyond the bachelor’s degree plus 12 hours of HIST 9000 - Doctorl Dissertation , for a minimum total of 72 graduate credits. No more than 12 hours of dissertation credits will be counted toward the degree.
The last 30 hours of course work
The last 30 hours of course work (including 12 dissertation hours) must be from The University of Memphis.
At least 6 credit hours
At least 6 credit hours of research seminars (HIST 7070 /HIST 8070 ) or their equivalent. A master’s thesis in history will count as one of these seminars and, by petition to the Graduate Studies Committee, an article in a peer-reviewed journal may count as one, but neither reduces the total number of credit hours required.
At most 6 credit hours
At most 6 credit hours of HIST 8012 - Directed Readings , with an additional 6 hours permitted in special circumstances by petition to the Graduate Coordinator.
At most 6 credits of
At most 6 credits of MA courses and 6 credits of PhD courses at the 6000-level. In special cases, the advisory committee may allow a total of 15 credits at the 6000-level.
With the approval of the advisory committee
With the approval of the advisory committee, up to 33 hours of course work from the master’s degree, as well as any other graduate coursework completed before admission to the PhD program, may be counted toward the 60 credits.
A student who makes a grade of B- or lower in 6 or more hours of course work
A student who makes a grade of B- or lower in 6 or more hours of course work will be dropped from the PhD program, except under exceptional circumstances. No grade of C+ or lower may count toward the required number of credits.
The following courses do not count toward the degree:
The Advisory Committee will review the progress of each full-time Ph.D. student at the end of both the first and second year, and will give their findings to each student in writing. Full-time PhD students with a history MA are expected to pass their Comprehensive Examination in the fourth or fifth semester in the PhD program, and in any case within six months of finishing the required coursework.
Since the examination is designed to test knowledge of each field, it is not confined to material covered in classes and the books and articles read in them. We expect students to demonstrate an intellectual command of the subject matter, historiography, current scholarly controversies, bibliography, and whatever else is expected in each field. While reading lists for exams will vary in length and content, in most cases they will include at least 30–50 monographs in minor fields and 60–100 in the major field, or the equivalent in major articles.
Preparation for the Comprehensive Examination should begin with the first PhD class, and, for MA students anticipating continuing in the PhD program, with the first graduate class. See the departmental Guide for Graduate Students for a complete description of the exam.
Before scheduling the Reading for and Writing Comprehensives courses, the student must choose, in consultation with the advisory committee and with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, a Comprehensive Committee composed of at least one faculty member from each minor field and two faculty members from the dissertation field. Usually, this is the same as the advisory committee.
No sooner than the last semester of course work, in which the student will normally take only Reading for and Writing Comprehensives classes, and after satisfying the language requirement, if any, the Comprehensive Committee will administer a Comprehensive Examination over all fields. The committee, in consultation with the student, will decide whether the exam essays should be written simultaneously or not and may decide to spread them over not more than two semesters.
The written portion of the exam consists of essays of about thirty pages length in each minor field and two such essays (or one longer one) in the major field. Students and field advisors will work out the format of these essays, based upon the nature of the field, the content of their coursework, and the reading lists and bibliographies developed for the Readings courses. The essays will be based on a series of broad questions and, in many fields, be historiographical in nature. They will draw from, but not be a mere compilation of, the written documents, described in the departmental Guide to be done in each previous course.
After a student has completed all written parts of the Comprehensive Examination, the Comprehensive Committee will conduct an oral examination over all the fields, normally within two weeks, but if necessary the Comprehensive Committee may extend the time. After the oral exam, the committee will either pass the student or require the resubmitting of one or more written parts. After the student has resubmitted any required exams, the committee may choose to hold another oral examination, but it is not required to do so.
The student may not resubmit any written examination, which will necessarily involve a major reconceptualization and revision of an essay, sooner than one full semester after the first attempt. After the student has retaken all required parts, including a second oral examination, if required, the Comprehensive Committee will decide whether, with the approval of at least three of the four members, the student should be promoted to late doctoral status or dropped from the program. Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination, the coordinator of graduate studies will notify the Graduate School of the student’s late doctoral status. The student may enroll in dissertation hours only after passing the Comprehensive Examination.
To complete the requirements for the PhD in History, the student must prepare a dissertation based on a substantial amount of original research and submitted in the acceptable form. The student determines the dissertation topic in consultation with a faculty member in the dissertation field who agrees to direct the research. NOTE: Students electing to write a dissertation should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before starting to write.
Each PhD student must, within one semester after passing the Comprehensive Examination, present a prospectus of the proposed dissertation in a colloquy supervised by the Dissertation Committee. All history faculty and graduate students are invited to this colloquy, and all other interested persons are welcome. This is not intended as an examination, but rather as a forum in which the candidate can discuss ideas and receive suggestions and criticisms.
The Dissertation Committee consists of at least four graduate faculty, chaired by the director, who, with at least two other members, must have full graduate faculty status. It is recommended that one member be outside the discipline, department, or university. Prospective committee members not on the University of Memphis faculty must apply for Adjunct Graduate Faculty status. All graduate committees, including this one, should normally consist of tenured and tenure-track faculty. Other instructors at University of Memphis, untenured or non-tenure track instructors from other institutions, and unaffiliated scholars, with appropriate graduate faculty status may serve, but only with the approval of the committee chair and by a formal petition to the Graduate Studies Committee providing a full explanation of the reasons for the request. The Coordinator of Graduate Studies may waive the departmental requirement that three of the required four members hold Full Graduate Faculty membership when an Adjunct/Affiliate member’s credentials warrant it. In these instances, only two of the departmental faculty members will be required to hold full Graduate Faculty membership. Only one adjunct or affiliate graduate faculty member may serve as a voting member; the director must hold full membership.
Formal approval of the final dissertation will be given by the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee.