Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 18
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 33

Required Courses:
Doctoral students must take at least 11 courses in the History Department, and may elect to take courses outside the department with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. A minimum of 10 courses must be completed before the general examination can be taken. Students should consult with their advisor for specific field requirements for the following required courses:

  • Two research seminars in which a substantial piece of original research is produced: one must be taken in the first year, preferably in the second term. At least one of the two research papers must be based on primary research in a language other than English, unless the student is writing a dissertation on the history of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or another Anglophone country.
  • One foundation seminar, normally to be taken in the first year of study. For students pursuing the U.S. field, the foundation seminar is divided into a two-course sequence; at least one course should be taken in the first year.
  • One methodology seminar, normally to be taken in the first year of study.
  • Two historiographic or thematic seminars that address a series of methodological and interpretive debates in the given field; one must be taken in the first year.
  • Two readings seminars in the secondary or outside field.

Language Examination: All students must show competence in at least one foreign language. To demonstrate competence, a student must pass a short translation exam administered, in most cases, by the University’s language departments. The dissertation advisor determines whether competence in a second language is required. The language requirement must be satisfied prior to taking the general examination. For doctoral students in American History, the language requirement may be waived at the discretion of the advisor and with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Culminating Events:
Preliminary Examination:
All doctoral students in American History take a preliminary exam in American history in the September of their third term of study. The preliminary exam is a take-home exam consisting of one synthetic question covering all of American history. Students choose from two questions and have one week to write an essay of no more than 6,000 words. The exam is set by an exam committee of three to five Graduate Faculty in American History appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Director of Graduate Studies asks all American historians in the History Department to suggest seven books for a U.S. field list of approximately 60 books that doctoral students in American History are expected to have read by the time of the preliminary exam. The exam question is based on this list. The exam committee, newly appointed each year, constructs the list in the first instance from the suggested books, and each year the committee is responsible for updating the reading list. That list is distributed to incoming doctoral students in American History when they matriculate into the program.

The term of each exam committee begins when a Ph.D. cohort enters the doctoral program in August and runs until that cohort takes its exam the following September. At the end of the Fall and Spring terms, the exam committee is responsible for conducting a workshop with first-year doctoral students in which the expectations of the preliminary exam are discussed. The exam is graded blindly by the exam committee.

Doctoral students who twice fail the preliminary exam are dismissed from the program.

General Examination:
Doctoral students in American History who pass the preliminary exam proceed to the general exam, which consists of three fields:

  • One field must be geographically distinct from American history, such as Latin American history. The reading list for the geographically distinct field is limited to no more than 50 books or article equivalents.
  • The other two fields are research fields, in a period or methodology, such as Early American, Early Republic, environmental, foreign relations, gender, military, public, or urban history.  Each research field is limited to no more than 70 books or article equivalents.

Doctoral students in American History must complete the general exam by the end of their fifth term. This oral exam is two hours long. Students are asked to discuss issues pertinent to their prepared fields of study. To pass the exam, all members of the committee must approve of the student’s performance. Students may retake the oral exam if they fail it. After failing twice, students are dismissed from the program.

For all doctoral students not specializing in American history, the general examination is a take-home exam. Examinees have up to two weeks to complete it. During that time, they are expected to write an original essay approximately 2,500 to 3,500 words in length for each of the three fields on the examination. Examinees should obtain the questions for the examination from and return the completed examination to the Graduate Secretary. Examinees are expected to provide the Graduate Secretary with both a hard copy and a disk that contains their completed examination.

With the written examination, students need to demonstrate their mastery of the field, their ability to explain and evaluate interpretations, and their ability to defend their own interpretation. Bibliographic citations to specific interpretations are expected. Satisfactory completion of the Ph.D. general examination requires receiving passing grades in all three fields ("general," "dissertation," and "distinct").

Upon passing the written exams, students are given a two-hour oral exam by their General Examination Committee. The oral exam should be scheduled within 30 days of the beginning of the written exam. Students may be asked to defend or expand on their written exams, and may also be asked to discuss other issues pertinent to their prepared fields of study. To pass the exam, all members of the committee must approve the student’s performance.

The general examination must be completed by the end of the student's fifth term in the doctoral program. Doctoral students who have been granted a leave of absence must complete their general examination no later than the sixth week of the sixth term in the doctoral program. (Ideally, students in the doctoral program complete their coursework by the end of the fourth term.) Failure to complete the coursework and take the general examination by the end of the fifth term of matriculation may be considered grounds for dismissal from the program.

University-wide regulations governing examinations when a Ph.D. student matriculated apply throughout her/his career until the degree is received. If departmental or college regulations change, the student similarly follows the rules in place at the time of her/his matriculation unless s/he obtains approval of the advisory committee and written permission from the Graduate Council to follow more recent requirements.

Students preparing to take their general examination should confirm times and dates with their General Examination Committee Chair, other committee members, and the Graduate Secretary. All parties involved receive confirmation of the times, dates, and rooms for the examination.

Dissertation Committee:
After passing the general exam and in consultation with the primary advisor, students select the members of their Doctoral Advisory Committee. The Doctoral Advisory Committee is formed to oversee the student's doctoral research and is comprised of at least three Graduate Faculty members, two of whom are from the History Department. The student's primary advisor functions as the chair of this committee and is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress, coordinating the responses of committee members, and informing the student of her/his academic progress.

Further, either during the process of writing the dissertation prospectus, or at some time following its approval, students, again in consultation with their primary advisor, select a qualified external reader of the dissertation. The external reader may either be on the faculty of a Temple University department other than History or a member of the faculty of a college/university other than Temple. Once s/he has agreed to serve in the capacity (and received approval from the Graduate School), s/he will be added to the Dissertation Examining Committee. The total membership of the Dissertation Examining Committee may exceed four faculty (the minimum being the three Graduate Faculty members who approved the prospectus plus the external reader). A majority of the committee's members, however, must be Temple University History Department Graduate Faculty.

Prospectus:
All doctoral candidates must prepare a dissertation prospectus in close consultation with the advisor prior to advancing to Ph.D. candidacy. This document, usually 15 to 20 pages in length, must achieve the following goals: 

  1. Identify the major research question of the dissertation.
  2. Situate the dissertation in the existing scholarly literature.
  3. Lay out a coherent research strategy that identifies the archives and sources that will be used.
  4. Include a timeline for research and writing of the dissertation.

The prospectus defense is a public event, open to History Department faculty and doctoral students. At this event, the doctoral candidate makes a brief presentation lasting approximately 10 to 20 minutes, outlining the contents of the prospectus. A copy of the dissertation prospectus is made available at least one week before the defense for examination by the faculty. During the defense, faculty and students engage the candidate in vigorous conversation about the proposed project.

The prospectus must be defended before the end of the sixth term. Failure to defend the prospectus by the end of the sixth term is grounds for dismissal from the doctoral program. At the end of the defense, the candidate's Doctoral Advisory Committee meets privately to vote on advancing the student to Ph.D. candidacy.

Dissertation:
Dissertations must be written and defended within seven years of matriculation. Students who have made satisfactory progress toward completing their dissertation can apply for an extension of up to three additional years. Therefore, the maximum total time permitted for completing the Ph.D. program is ten years. Students in the Ph.D. program must register each term until all requirements for the degree have been fulfilled unless they receive a leave of absence.

All dissertations must be prepared in accordance with the guidelines of the Dissertation and Thesis Handbook, which is available at www.temple.edu/grad/documents/Dissertation-and-Thesis-Handbook.pdf. Students should arrange a procedure for submitting draft chapters for review to their primary advisor and other members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee.

When the chair and a majority of the Dissertation Examining Committee agree that the written dissertation is of sufficient quality to be defended, the student should arrange with the Committee a time for the oral defense to be held. The student should then notify the Graduate Secretary of the proposed defense date. The oral defense must be publicly announced in writing at least ten days in advance of the date of the defense and must be open to the public. A copy of the dissertation is made available to the department at least one week before the defense for examination by the faculty.

An Oral Defense Chair must be identified. This person must be a Temple University presidential faculty member and may not be the chair of the student’s Dissertation Examining Committee.

In the event that a member of the Dissertation Examining Committee cannot attend the defense, teleconferencing or videoconferencing is arranged. This arrangement must be approved by the Graduate School prior to the defense. No more than one member of the Dissertation Examining Committee can be physically absent from the defense.

The dissertation defense is a public event, open to History Department faculty and doctoral students. At this event, the doctoral candidate makes a brief presentation, outlining the main argument of the dissertation. During the defense, faculty and students engage the candidate in a vigorous conversation about the project. At the end of the defense, the Dissertation Examining Committee meets privately to vote on the candidate’s performance. The candidate is notified immediately of the decision.