Coursework and Language Requirements

All students should consult with their potential academic advisor regarding coursework. In addition, all incoming students have a first-year departmental advisor. Incoming students need to meet with the departmental advisor before registering for classes. By the end of their first year of coursework, students should choose a potential major advisor who will direct their thesis. The Graduate College Handbook for Graduate Students and Advisors and the departmental Guidelines for Advisor-Advisee Relations are useful tools for choosing an advisor and completing the program.

All students must meet the following coursework requirements:

  • Four courses that constitute the coursework for the student’s major field (16 credit hours).

  • Two courses for each of the two minor fields (16 credit hours).

  • The required History 593: Approaches to History course taken in the fall semester of the first year, the required History 594: Introduction to Historical Writing course taken in the spring semester of the first year, and methods course (often History 591: Social Theory, although substitutes are possible, including courses outside the department, upon approval from your advisor and the DGS).

  • NOTE: these requirements are summarized in the Coursework Checklist

Degree requirements vary based on the last degree completed. Incoming students with Master of Arts have a different set of requirements than those incoming with the Bachelor of Arts. Please make sure to note the requirements specific to your entry level. Students entering with an MA usually complete all required coursework within the first four semesters.

For students with an MA, the ten courses outlined above are required. This totals 40 credit hours. It is possible for students with an MA degree to transfer up to two courses. To do so, the student should confer with his or her advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, submitting a syllabus and a transcript. When approved by the DGS, consulting with appropriate faculty, students will receive a note from the DGS that will be cc'd to the Graduate Secretary, who will process the transfer. Students who enter with an MA typically complete course work in four semesters.

Students who enter with a BA generally complete coursework in six semesters. The field distribution for coursework is the same as for students entering with an MA (four major field courses, two courses for each minor, History 593/594 and a methods course), but students with a BA are required to take six additional courses to complete coursework. This totals 64 credit hours for students entering with a BA.

Students may take History 597 (individual directed reading) to count towards the total number of courses needed for field requirements, when regular courses are not available, and History 596 (individual directed research) towards satisfying the research requirement. We encourage you to discuss this with your advisor.

Most courses are “problems courses,” which focus on secondary reading and generally consist of rigorous historiographical writing As many courses are comparative-thematic, students should discuss with the instructor (and the DGS) whether a course can fulfill the requirement for a geographic field (e.g. if the historiographical paper is focused on that area). Generally, in planning how to satisfy field requirements it is recommended, even before courses are announced, to talk with faculty in those fields about their course plans.

In addition, students are required to complete two-to-three "research seminars" (two if entering with MA), which consists of original research and writing based on primary sources. This requirement can be satisfied in a number of different ways: in a "research seminar" course (such as HIST 573 - "Research Seminar: America Since 1789," or  HIST 508: Research Seminar: Latin America," which can be offered to one or two students by a faculty member as an overload course and so will not require the usual 6 students to be authorized; in a problems course (with the instructor’s agreement); or in History 596 (individual directed research).

Courses should be 500-level graduate courses, although with advisor and instructor approval 400-level classes may count toward coursework.

Language requirements:  All students in the PhD program must demonstrate proficiency in at least one relevant research language other than English before advancing to ABD status. Students whose native language is not English may count that as their research language. Given that many students will still need to become proficient in multiple foreign or premodern languages in order to conduct their research, faculty in individual fields are welcome and encouraged to mandate proficiency in specific languages for students in that field. Plans for achieving proficiency will also be part of the discussion when individual students meet with their advisor and the DGS at the end of the first and second years. Proficiency can be demonstrated in one of the four ways:

  • passing an appropriate graduate reading course or sequence of undergraduate courses  (through intermediate level) with a grade of B or better
  • passing a departmental exam administered each September and February: analysis and paraphrase of an article or excerpt for modern languages, of a primary source for premodern languages
  • evidence of proficiency as approved by the advisor in consultation with the DGS
  • native fluency.