PhD Portfolio

Advancing to Candidacy

After completing the necessary coursework, there are several steps that students must take before achieving candidate status (also known as ABD, or “all but dissertation” status): completion of the PhD portfolio, preliminary exams, and the oral prelim and defense of the dissertation proposal.

The PhD Portfolio: Overview

The PhD portfolio form -- see Departmental Forms -- should be submitted for evaluation by the Graduate Studies Committee the semester before the student wishes to begin the preliminary exams. Students entering with an MA typically file in their third or fourth semesters to begin exams the following semester. Students entering with a BA degree typically file at the beginning of their fifth semester.

Filing a PhD Portfolio Review is a major milestone in a graduate student's career. You will include a narrative of your scholarly development and examples of a historiography paper and a research paper. All the faculty members with whom you have taken courses will be asked for their views on your likelihood of success in the PhD program.

Note: Students with incomplete courses from previous semesters (“I” or "NR" or “DFR”) will not be approved for advancing to exams until those incompletes are satisfied.

PhD Portfolio Review Procedures

  1. The PhD Portfolio Review form and supplementary materials should be submitted by September 15 or February 15, in order to begin exams the following semester.

  2. In the PhD Portfolio Review form the student will indicate major advisor, proposed preliminary examination fields (and a justification for a "constructed field"*), courses covering each field and requirement, the status of language exams, and a list of completed and current courses and instructors. The form must be signed by the primary advisor, who should review the materials before submission. You should remind your advisor that a letter of support and evaluation must be sent to the graduate secretary by the September or February deadline. This is an essential part of the portfolio.

  3. Supplementary materials: The student must also submit, electronically, to the Graduate Secretary:

    1. A narrative statement of scholarly progress since entering the graduate program in History at UIUC. In this statement, the student should discuss their original plans and how these have changed as a result of their experience in the program; work in courses; accomplishments outside of courses (e.g. conferences, reading-group participation, etc.). The statement should also describe in brief proposed preliminary fields, examiners, and dissertation topic. The statement should be no longer than 3 double-spaced pages.

    2. One historiography paper previously submitted and graded in a history course at UIUC.

    3. One research paper previously submitted and graded in a history course at UIUC.

    4. If one or more of your fields of study are "constructed"--i.e. not in the current (though evolving) list of approved fields (see the menu link to the right)--please submit a 1-2 page (single-spaced) statement that (a) describes the field (including an indication of how its breadth is comparable to other fields of study), (2) explains your reasoning for developing this field in relation to your own professional development and directions (not only your dissertation project), and (3) lists at least two faculty in the field you have agreed to work with you on this field and develop your preliminary exam. (4) Include a sample bibliography--not the full list (to be developed with your field advisors) but enough to give a sense of the field's scope (temporal, geographic, thematic).

In the event that a student would like to submit work for items B or C that originated in a course outside of the department, prior approval must be obtained from the primary advisor and DGS.

4.  The Graduate Studies Committee will review the forms and assessments by faculty and discuss these at a meeting in November (for fall submissions) or April (for spring submissions). After this meeting, the DGS will inform students whether the committee approves their readiness to advance to the next stage in the program, the preliminary exams.