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History Department

PhD in History

Group of faculty and students in history conference room

Core Requirements

A Ph.D. in history requires the following:

  • 48 course credits (12 course credits may be outside the department). The coursework develops basic analytical and research skills and grounds students in their areas of specialization.
  • 24 dissertation credits must be devoted to research and writing of the dissertation.
  • All together, students must have a total of 72 credits to receive the Ph.D.

Comprehensive Examinations

Candidates for the Ph.D. who entered with an undergraduate degree are required to take oral comprehensive examinations at the end of their third year of graduate study. Candidates who entered with approved and transferred credits from a master's degree program are required to take oral comprehensive examinations at the end of their second year of graduate study. Comprehensive examinations are approximately two hours in length and are taken in the major field and both minor fields.


The oral dissertation defense is conducted by a six-member examining committee, including an outside chair from another department/school. The chair must be a tenured faculty member of the University (ESF and Law faculty members cannot be chosen). The advisor and student jointly choose the remaining two members. The doctoral proposal must be approved by the student’s advisor and two other faculty members. The student is eligible to take the oral examination after the advisor and all dissertation committee members have approved the dissertation for defense. The examination, which is open to all faculty members, graduate students and the general public, consists of a defense of the dissertation and examination in the field of specialization in which it falls.

Foreign Language

Each student fulfills requirements in one foreign language prior to taking the master’s examination or submitting of a thesis.

Meet Our Graduate Students

Maxwell Hall exterior columns
Nitya Chagti

Nitya Chagti

Medieval and European History: Albrecht Diem advisor
Philip Erenrich

Philip Erenrich

Modern American History, Immigration; Andrew W. Cohen, advisor
Semaj Campbell

Semaj Campbell

19th- and 20th-Century African-American History; Jeffrey Gonda, advisor
Tianyu Cheng

Tianyu Cheng

Late Imperial and Modern China; Norman Kutcher, advisor
Mohammad Ebad Athar

Mohammad Ebad Athar

U.S. and the World; U.S. and the Middle East Empire; Osamah Khalil, advisor

Maxwell History Dissertations

View our collection of history dissertations from the present day dating back to Jane M. Bancroft's work from 1884:  “A study of the parliament of Paris and other parliaments of France.”

Visit the collection

Jing Liu

I am Maxwell.

My study in the history Ph.D. program was an amazing journey into unknown realms. It was the cornerstone of my academic career and one of the most memorable times I had.

Jing Liu '19 (Modern Northeast Asian History)

Shaingai Academy of Sciences

History Department
145 Eggers Hall