Doctor of Philosophy


The ordinary prerequisite is an M.A. in History, though students from other fields with strong backgrounds in History will also receive consideration. Students with a B.A. seeking admission directly to the Ph.D. program will be considered for the combined M.A./Ph.D. program.


Major doctoral fields are offered in Medieval European, Early Modern European, and United States history. Minor fields include these areas as well as Late Antiquity and Byzantium, Modern Europe, or a constructed field defined by the student with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

The degree requires twenty-seven hours of coursework if entering with an MA; thirty-six hours of course work if pursuing the combined MA-Ph.D.. Course work must include a minimum of twelve hours in the major and six hours in the minor fields, HIST.500 and historical studies courses. At least one research seminar must be taken in both the major and minor fields. The remaining hours are flexible as to distribution. None of the doctoral courses may be at the undergraduate level, and no more than six hours may be taken in a related department without the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Following the completion of course work, the student must complete and pass a comprehensive examination, which has both a written and oral component. The written examination consists of two four-hour written examinations, one each in the major and minor fields. The examinations are based on the texts on the preparatory reading list and selected by the student from a set of choices developed by the examiners. The oral examination committee is comprised of the three faculty three faculty on the student's dissertation committee and two other faculty agreed upon by the student and the student's advisor in consultation with the graduate director and the department chair. The oral examination lasts two hours and is taken the week following the written examinations. The examination committee will ask the student about their written examination, as well as texts on the preparatory reading list.

Following successful completion of the oral examination, student will meet with their advisor and the chair of the history department to discuss and give final approval to the prospectus. The student then files the (now approved) copy of the dissertation prospectus with the College of Arts & Sciences and proceeds to write the dissertation. Twelve credit hours are given for the writing of the dissertation. Completed dissertations are assessed by the committee and are formally accepted after a public defense.

Language Requirement

Before taking their comprehensive exams, doctoral students in Medieval and Early Modern European history are required to display reading proficiency in Latin as well as one additional foreign language. All other students must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages. For Doctoral students in U.S. history, approved courses in research methods may replace the second language.

Doctor of Philosophy Resources

Doctoral Reading Lists

For more information you may contact the Graduate School at 314-977-2240; Doctoral Candidacy Advisor, Christine Harper 977-2243.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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