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PhD in History

Degree Requirements for students who enrolled prior to January 2015.

The History Department introduced new requirements for the doctoral program beginning in the fall semester of 2014. Students beginning the program in fall 2014 have the option to adopt the new program or to pursue program requirements in place before this date. Students commencing the program in January 2015 must adopt the new program requirements.

Admission Requirements. The normal requirement for admission to the PhD is a Master of/Magisteriate in Arts degree in History, with high standing, from a recognized university. Applicants should understand that admission is contingent on a superior academic record, strong references, and a convincing statement of purpose which clearly describes their professional goals and intended area of research. In addition, admission is contingent on the availability of an appropriate faculty member in the History department to serve as supervisor.

Requirements for the Degree

  1. Credits. A fully-qualified candidate entering the program with a master’s or magisteriate degree is required to complete a minimum of 90 credits.

  2. Residence. The minimum period of residence is 6 terms (including summer terms) of full-time graduate study beyond the master’s or magisteriate degree, or 9 terms of full-time graduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree for those students who are permitted to enrol for doctoral studies without a master’s or magisteriate degree, or the equivalent in part-time study.

  3. Courses. (12 credits). Doctoral students are required to take 12 credits of 800-level courses, six of which must be tutorials in their major area. The additional six credits are normally chosen from the department’s seminars. In exceptional cases, students may, with permission of the Graduate Program Director, do three credits of course work at an equivalent level in another discipline.

  4. Comprehensive Examinations. (12 credits). During their first year in the program, and in consultation with the GPD, new PhD students will form an advisory committee of three faculty members to assist in the selection and preparation of comprehensive fields. After students have completed the four required doctoral courses they will begin to prepare for the comprehensives under the supervision of their three field supervisors.

    The major field will be that in which the student’s proposed doctoral thesis falls. Normally two of the fields chosen will be from the same historical/geographical area. Although most fields are defined by the department as the history of a specific geographical region between designated dates, many thematic fields are also available. Any student may offer one examination in a related discipline when approved by the History Graduate Committee and by the appropriate faculty member and/or program administrator in that discipline.

    The preparation of a comprehensive field should give students sufficient background to teach at an introductory level and/or do advanced research in the field. Although the requirements may vary from one field to the next, a core reading list of 50 to 100 titles per field is suggested as reasonable. The reading list for a field will be drawn up by the professor in consultation with the student, and once established, both must agree to any significant changes.

    The examinations will normally be scheduled in the fifth term (or spring of the second year) of the student’s program. The comprehensives will consist of take-home examinations in three selected fields, each to be completed over a 72 hour period. These written examinations (which will be done on a word processor) will normally be completed within a three-week period. If successful they will be followed by an oral examination, involving all three examiners, to be held within two weeks of the last written comprehensive. The purpose of the oral comprehensive is to allow the doctoral student the opportunity to explain or expand on parts of the written examinations which professors found inadequate or unclear, as well as to allow for more general discussion among the examiners and the student as a group of historians.

  5. Comprehensive Fields. Subject to the availability of appropriate faculty members, the History department is normally prepared to supervise comprehensive examinations in the following fields:

    Europe. England, 500-1485; Britain, 1485-1837; Renaissance and Reformation; France since 1789; 20th century Germany; Russia, 1700 to present.

    Canada. Colonial and Native History; 1840 to 1896; 1896 to present; French Canada to 1867; Modern Quebec to present.

    United States. Colonial and Native History; 19th century; 20th century; U.S. foreign relations.

    Africa since 1800. Selected topics.

    Asia since 1750. China; India; Japan; Middle East; selected topics in Southeast Asia.

    Latin America since 1500. Selected topics.

    Caribbean. 17th to 19th centuries.

    Comparative or Thematic History. Students may develop, in consultation with their major advisor and with the approval of the History Graduate Committee, comparative or thematic fields for their comprehensive examinations. These fields shall be limited to the historical areas where the departmental resources are available. Some examples include: Gender and Women’s History; Genocide and Human Rights; Urban History; and International Relations.

  6. PhD Thesis Proposal and Colloquium. HIST 885: PhD Thesis Proposal and Colloquium (6 credits). Following the successful completion of the comprehensive exams, students will prepare a written thesis proposal for the approval of the internal members of their thesis committee. The thesis proposal should describe and justify the intended topic, explain its place in the historiography of the field, discuss the intended research methods, and identify the source requirements including their availability. When the written proposal is approved the student will present an oral colloquium about the proposal to the Department. When the proposal and colloquium requirements have been satisfied the student will be admitted to candidacy.

  7. Thesis. HIST 890: Thesis Research (60 credits). Doctoral students must submit a thesis based on their research and defend it in an oral examination. A doctoral thesis in history is expected to be based on extensive research in primary sources, to make an original contribution to historical knowledge, and to be presented in an acceptable literary form. The PhD thesis should normally run to no more than 400 pages including all critical apparatuses.

  8. Language. Doctoral candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to read and translate historical material in one modern language other than English. In addition, students may elect, or may be required, to demonstrate competence in a second language. Language examinations, which are normally given twice a year, are administered by the department. Dictionaries are not allowed in writing the exam.

  9. Time Limits. All work for a doctoral degree must be completed within 18 terms (6 years) of full-time study or 24 terms (8 years) of part-time study from the time of initial registration in the program.
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