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History, Ph.D.

The graduate program in history at Saint Louis University is one of the oldest in the country, granting its first Ph.D. in 1919. Today, the tradition of excellence is continued by training students in a variety of historical fields.

SLU's history Ph.D. program ranks among the top-100 history programs in the nation according to U.S. News & World ReportSLU's history program offers students internationally renowned faculty, an outstanding mentoring program and high-quality professional training.

Curriculum Overview

History doctoral students at SLU choose a specialized area of study from the following concentrations:

  • American History
  • Early Modern European
  • Medieval European

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

History graduate students at SLU benefit from the rich archival and institutional resources available in St. Louis itself, including relationships with sites such as the Missouri Historical Society, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Circuit Court Records Project, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Sheldon Galleries, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Historic Landmarks Association.

Careers

We expect that the majority of the students at the doctoral level will themselves become professional historians and teach at the college level.

Admission Requirements

Student transcripts, grade point average and English proficiency (if applicable). Each item in the application package is required for an applicant to be reviewed.

  • A master’s degree in the field or the equivalent.
  • An official transcript of undergraduate record and, for applicants to the Ph.D. program, graduate record
  • A current resume
  • Three letters of recommendation assessing potential in graduate studies
  • A letter of intent describing professional and intellectual goals, and interest in graduate studies. The letter should include the specific field of historical study interested in; a vision of how to contribute to existing research and criticism in an area of interest; and the SLU faculty members interested in working with. While plans may well change as a result of further study, the statement will help the department assess the grasp of the field, and the ability to describe ideas coherently and compellingly.
  • A 15- to 20-page writing sample which demonstrates competence in historical writing and analysis, and which may be an excerpt from a longer piece.
  • Student Interview

Language Requirements

Proof of competency in one foreign language is required through a written examination administered by the department or successful completion of graduate translation courses.

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 Ph.D. 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.

Application Procedures

Completed applications with all materials for admission and financial aid must be received by Jan. 15. Students are not admitted in the spring or summer semester.

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Application and Assistantship Deadline

Submit an application for the following fall semester by Jan. 15.

Review Process

A standing graduate applicant review committee meets just after the expiration of the application deadline. The committee reviews each item of every complete application. The committee makes its applicant selections by the beginning of March.

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

For more information, visit http://www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

  1. Graduates will be able to assess relevant literature or scholarly contributions in the field(s) of study.
  2. Graduates will be able to apply the major practices, theories, or research methodologies in the field(s) of study.
  3. Graduates will be able to apply knowledge from the field(s) of study to address problems in broader contexts.
  4. Graduates will be able to articulate arguments or explanations to both a disciplinary or professional audience and to a general audience, in both oral and written forms.
  5. Graduates will be able to evidence scholarly and/or professional integrity in the field of study.
  6. Graduates will be able to demonstrates the ability to complete an in-depth study of at least 200 pages (excluding notes, bibliography, and front matter), using primary and secondary sources, that makes an original, defensible contribution to historical knowledge.

Program Requirements (Ph.D.)

None of the doctoral courses may be at the undergraduate level and no more than six credits may be taken in a related department without the permission of the director of graduate studies.

For students studying American history, competency in one foreign language is required. For those studying medieval European and early modern European history, two languages are required — one of which must be Latin. It is understood that in all fields of study advisors can require additional languages if they are pertinent to the student’s research agenda.

Required Courses
HIST 5900History Teaching Practicum0
HIST 6900Professional Writing for Historians I3
HIST 6901Professional Writing for Historians II3
Primary Concentration Courses
Select one of the following concentrations:12
Secondary Concentration Courses
Select one of the following concentrations:6
Elective Courses
Select one course3
Dissertation Research
HIST 6990Dissertation Research (taken over multiple semesters)12
Total Credits39

Program Requirements (M.A. to Ph.D.)

For the Ph.D. in history, 27 credits of coursework beyond the M.A. are required, or 36 credits if pursuing the combined M.A./Ph.D. A minimum of 12 credits in the primary concentration and six credits in the secondary concentration are required.

The remaining credits are flexible. None of the doctoral courses may be at the undergraduate level and no more than six credits may be taken in a related department without the permission of the director of graduate studies.

For U.S. history students, competency in one foreign language is required. For medieval and early modern European history students, two languages are required, one of which must be Latin. It is understood that in all fields of study advisors can require additional languages if they are pertinent to the student’s research agenda.

Required Courses
HIST 5000Theory & Practice of History: An Introduction3
HIST 5900History Teaching Practicum0
HIST 6900Professional Writing for Historians I3
HIST 6901Professional Writing for Historians II3
Primary Concentration Courses
Select one of the following concentrations:12
Secondary Concentration Courses
Select one of the following concentrations:6
Elective Courses
Select three courses9
Dissertation Research
HIST 6990Dissertation Research (taken over multiple semesters)12
Total Credits48

Early-Modern European Concentration with Medieval European

Early Modern European
HIST 5400Studies in Early Modern European History3
HIST 5410Advanced Studies in Early Modern European History3
HIST 6820Seminar: Early Modern European History3
Elective in Early Modern European History3
Total Credits12

Secondary Concentration (6 credits)

Medieval European
HIST 5310Advanced Studies in Medieval History3
HIST 6810Seminar Medieval History3
Total Credits6

Medieval European Concentration with Early Modern European

Medieval European
HIST 5300Studies Medieval History3
HIST 5310Advanced Studies in Medieval History3
HIST 6810Seminar Medieval History3
Elective in Medieval European History3
Total Credits12

Secondary Concentration

Early Modern European
HIST 5410Advanced Studies in Early Modern European History3
HIST 6820Seminar: Early Modern European History3
Total Credits6

American Concentration with World History

American
HIST 5600Studies in American History3
HIST 5610Advanced Studies in American History3
HIST 6840Seminar in American History3
Elective in American History3
Total Credits12

Secondary Concentration

World History
HIST 5710Advanced Studies in World History3
HIST 6870Research Seminar in World History3
Total Credits6

Non-Course Requirements

Following the completion of coursework, students must complete and pass a comprehensive examination that has both written and oral components.

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 from a set of choices developed by the examiners. The oral examination committee is comprised of the three faculty members from the dissertation committee and two other faculty agreed upon with an adviser 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 about the written examination, as well as texts on the preparatory reading list.

Following successful completion of the oral examination, students will meet with an adviser and the chair of the history department to discuss and give final approval to the prospectus. Students will then file an approved copy of the dissertation prospectus with the College of Arts and Sciences and proceed to write the dissertation. Twelve credits are given for the writing of the dissertation. Completed dissertations are assessed by the committee and are formally accepted after a public defense.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Early-Modern European Concentration with Minor in Medieval History

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Participation in Mentoring Events  
HIST 5400 Studies in Early Modern European History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 5000 Theory & Practice of History: An Introduction (Required course) 3
HIST 5410 Advanced Studies in Early Modern European History 3
 Credits9
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 5300 Studies Medieval History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 6820 Seminar: Early Modern European History (Required course for the major) 3
Students will demonstrate language proficiency in one language either by passing a class or examination.  
LATN 5930 Special Topics 3
 Credits9
Year Two
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 5410 Advanced Studies in Early Modern European History 3
HIST 5310 Advanced Studies in Medieval History 3
LATN 5630 Introduction to Paleography 3-4
HIST 5900 History Teaching Practicum (Required course) 0
 Credits9-10
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6820 Seminar: Early Modern European History 3
HIST 6810 Seminar Medieval History (Required course for the minor) 3
HIST 6980 Graduate Reading Course 3
Students will demonstrate language proficiency in a second language either by passing a class or examination. One of the two languages should be Latin.  
HIST 5900 History Teaching Practicum (Required course) 0
For completion of the MA, students successfully defend a seminar paper before three examiners in a one-hour examination  
 Credits9
Year Three
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6900 Professional Writing for Historians I 3
Students normally take their comprehensive examinations by the end of this term and definitely by the end of the sixth semester.  
 Credits3
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6901 Professional Writing for Historians II 3
Students must write their dissertation prospectus by the end of this term.  
 Credits3
Year Four
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 6
Students may take college teaching certificate at this point.  
 Credits6
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 6
 Credits6
Year Five
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 0
 Credits0
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 0
A minimum 75000 words thesis is to be defended before three examiners for completion of the PHD in a two hour examination.  
 Credits0
 Total Credits54-55

Program Notes

Students entering the doctoral program with an M.A. in history only have to take 27 rather than 36 credits before their comprehensive examinations.

Students must take a studies class and a seminar in both their major and minor fields.

Students must take a minimum 12 credits in their major field and six credits in their minor field.

Students must meet with their advisor every term to discuss their progress.

Comprehensive examinations consist of two four-hour written papers in the major and minor field followed by a two-hour oral examination before five examiners.

Medieval European Concentration with Minor in Early Modern History

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Participation in Mentoring Events  
HIST 5300 Studies Medieval History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 5000 Theory & Practice of History: An Introduction (Required course) 3
HIST 5310 Advanced Studies in Medieval History 3
 Credits9
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 5400 Studies in Early Modern European History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 6810 Seminar Medieval History (Required course for the major) 3
LATN 5930 Special Topics 3
Students will demonstrate language proficiency in one language either by passing a class or examination.  
 Credits9
Year Two
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 5310 Advanced Studies in Medieval History 3
HIST 5410 Advanced Studies in Early Modern European History 3
LATN 5630 Introduction to Paleography 3-4
HIST 5900 History Teaching Practicum (Required course) 0
 Credits9-10
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6810 Seminar Medieval History 3
HIST 6820 Seminar: Early Modern European History (Required course for the minor) 3
HIST 6980 Graduate Reading Course (Required course) 3
Students will demonstrate language proficiency in a second language either by passing a class or examination. One of the two languages should be Latin.  
HIST 5900 History Teaching Practicum 0
For completion of the MA, students successfully defend a seminar paper before three examiners in a one-hour examination.  
 Credits9
Year Three
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6900 Professional Writing for Historians I 3
Students normally take their comprehensive examinations by the end of this term and definitely by the end of the sixth semester.  
 Credits3
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6901 Professional Writing for Historians II 3
Students must write their dissertation prospectus by the end of this term.  
 Credits3
Year Four
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 6
Students may take college teaching certificate at this point.  
 Credits6
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 6
 Credits6
Year Five
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 0
 Credits0
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 0
A minimum 75000 words thesis is to be defended before three examiners for completion of the PHD in a two hour examination.  
 Credits0
 Total Credits54-55

Program Notes

Students entering the doctoral program with an M.A. in history only have to take 27 rather than 36 hours before their comprehensive examinations.

Students must take a studies class and a seminar in both their major and minor fields.

Students must take a minimum of 12 hours in their major field and six hours in their minor field.

Students must meet with their advisor every term to discuss their progress.

Comprehensive examinations consist of two four-hour written papers in the major and minor field followed by a two-hour oral examination before five examiners.

American Concentration with Minor in World History

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 5000 Theory & Practice of History: An Introduction (Required course) 3
HIST 5600 Studies in American History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 5610 Advanced Studies in American History 3
 Credits9
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6840 Seminar in American History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 5700 Themes and Methods in World History (Required course for the major) 3
ASTD 5000 Perspectives in American Studies 3
 Credits9
Year Two
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 5610 Advanced Studies in American History 3
HIST 5710 Advanced Studies in World History 3
SPAN 5010 Spanish for Reading and Translation 3
Students will demonstrate language proficiency in one language either by passing a class or examination.  
HIST 5900 History Teaching Practicum 0
 Credits9
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6870 Research Seminar in World History (Required course for the major) 3
HIST 6840 Seminar in American History 3
HIST 6980 Graduate Reading Course 3
HIST 5900 History Teaching Practicum 0
For completion of the MA, students successfully defend a seminar paper before three examiners in a one-hour examination.  
 Credits9
Year Three
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6900 Professional Writing for Historians I 3
Students normally take their comprehensive examinations by the end of this term and definitely by the end of the sixth semester.  
 Credits3
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6900 Professional Writing for Historians I 3
Students must write their dissertation prospectus by the end of this term.  
 Credits3
Year Four
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 6
Students may take college teaching certificate at this point.  
 Credits6
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 6
 Credits6
Year Five
Fall
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 0
 Credits0
Spring
Participation in / Completion of Mentoring Events  
HIST 6990 Dissertation Research 0
A minimum 75000 words thesis is to be defended before three examiners for completion of the PHD in a two hour examination.  
 Credits0
 Total Credits54

Program Notes

Students entering the doctoral program with an M.A. in history only have to take 27 rather than 36 hours before their comprehensive examinations.

Students must take a studies class and a seminar in both their major and minor fields.

Students must take a minimum of 12 hours in their major field and a minimum of six hours in their minor field.

Students must meet with their advisor every term to discuss their progress.

For more information about our program, please contact:

Jennifer Popiel, Ph.D.
Director of Graduate Admissions, Department of History
jennifer.popiel@slu.edu