Graduate Requirements

Masters Program

The Master of Arts degree can be a terminal degree or an introduction in research and reading before pursuing the Ph.D.  The objectives of this program are to develop basic analytic techniques, to broaden knowledge in the student’s specialty, and to offer research experience in an area chosen by the student and his or her advisor.  Upon petition the Department may accept up to nine (9) hours of transfer credits from other departments or institutions.  The degree can be earned according to one of the two following plans, both requiring a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0.

The first plan requires a minimum of 30 credits, including three required classes of 3 credits each (HST 801, HST 803 and HST 804) and 21 additional course credits (9 of these 21 course credits can be outside the department).  Students must also pass a foreign language exam.  After completing 30 course credits, students must take a one-hour oral comprehensive examination in their field of specialization.

The second plan requires a minimum 24 course credits including three required classes of 3 credits each (HST 801, HST 803 and HST 804) and 15 additional course credits (9 of the 15 course credits can be outside the department).  Students must also pass a foreign language exam.  Students take 6 thesis hours and make an oral defense of the thesis.  

PhD Program

The department of History offers the Ph.D. degree to students interested in research and teaching. The primary focus is on original research and historical thought and writing.

The program of study leading to the Ph.D. consists of four elements:

  1. Completion of coursework;
  2. completion of language examination(s);
  3. completion of qualifying oral examinations in three fields;
  4. preparation of a dissertation.

It is expected that students entering with an undergraduate degree complete the Ph.D. program within 8 years. A minimum of 48 course credits (12 course credits maybe outside the department) for the Ph.D. degree. The coursework develops basic analytical and research skills and grounds students in their areas of specialization. In addition, 24 dissertation credits must be devoted to research and writing of the dissertation. Students are allowed to do more course credits and less dissertation credits but a minimum of 18 dissertation credits are required. Altogether, 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. (After 2 years of graduate study for candidates who entered with approved and transferred credits from a Masters degree.)

Fields of Study

AFRICA - Pre-Colonial, Modern
EAST ASIA - Pre-Modern China, Modern China, Pre-Modern Korea, Modern Korea
EUROPE - Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Modern
LATIN AMERICA - Modern, Colonial, Mexico, Caribbean
UNITED STATES - Early North America, Modern United States, Women, Religion,
Native American, African American
SOUTH ASIA - Modern and Contemporary
THEMATIC - Empire, Nation and Citizenship; Labor and Social Movements;
Mediterranean World; Modern Atlantic; Political Violence;
Intellectual History; Crime, Law and Deviance; Women,
Gender and Sexuality; Race and Ethnicity; Religion and Society


The doctoral proposal must be approved by the student’s advisor and two other faculty members.

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 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.

To request information on the History Graduate Program, please email:

To reach the Graduate School at Syracuse University, please check here.