PhD Program

This page is for applicants who already hold an MA in history earned within the last six years. Applicants with a master’s degree awarded in the last six years in a closely related discipline (including, but not limited to, American studies, Latin American studies, medieval studies, etc.) and whose training was primarily historical may petition the departmental Graduate Committee to apply directly to the PhD program. Permission will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Dr. Daniel Riches, the director of Graduate Studies, to make such a request: All other applicants should apply to our MA program instead.

Doctoral students in history at The University of Alabama complete 54 credit hours, at least 48 of which must be in history (the other six may be in a related field). In addition to coursework, reading proficiency in one or two foreign languages is required (depending on specialty). Coursework includes graduate readings courses and research seminars in the students’ fields of interest, and prepares students in mastery of the theories and methodologies of history, in historical research, in teaching at the post-secondary level, and introduces students to historical and historiographical issues in multiple fields of study. Typically, students complete all required coursework within two years before taking written and oral comprehensive examinations in three fields of study.

The department offers graduate instruction in the following fields:

  • Europe to 1815
  • Europe since 1815
  • U.S. History to 1877
  • U.S. History since 1877
  • Latin America
  • History of the U.S. South
  • Military and Naval History
  • Gender and Women’s History
  • History of Race
  • Religious History

Students may also create their own fields of study with the approval of their dissertation adviser, the director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Committee.

In addition to completing coursework and taking comprehensive exams, students applying for PhD candidacy must write a dissertation prospectus outlining their proposed research topic and contribution to their field of study. This prospectus must be approved during an oral defense by the members of the dissertation committee by the end of the same semester in which the student’s comprehensive exams have been taken.

Successful passage of the comprehensive exams and prospectus defense results in the student being admitted to formal candidacy for the PhD.

In normal circumstances, students who are admitted into the PhD program have seven years from their date of admission to complete their degree.