Regulations for Graduate Study – General Requirements for all History Degree Programs

Course Load

Resident students are expected to register for full loads each semester: at least 9 hours of graduate credit, except in the case of Graduate Teaching Assistants and History Writing Fellows, who must take at least 6 hours. All courses must be numbered 500 or above.

Historiography Requirement

All incoming graduate students (M.A. or Ph.D.), unless specifically exempted by the Graduate Committee, must take the History Colloquium (HY 665) in the Fall semester of their first year. All students must also take at least two historiography courses in different geographic areas (HY-601 Literature of American History to 1865, HY-602 Literature of American History since 1865, HY-603 Literature of European History, or HY-605 Literature of Latin American History) as part of their degree program. They are encouraged to take these as early as possible in their program. Doctoral students in U.S. history are strongly encouraged to take both HY-601 and HY-602 (Literature of American History to 1865/Literature of American History Since 1865); however, taking these two U.S. literature courses will not satisfy the historiography requirement.

Seminar Requirement

A seminar paper in the Department of History is an article-length scholarly paper based on substantial original primary-source research and situated in dialogue with the secondary literature in the field. The paper should deal explicitly with the historiographical significance of its claims. Master’s students are required to write at least one seminar paper; doctoral students are required to complete at least two seminar papers. Doctoral students who earned a Master’s degree at another institution may count one research seminar or thesis research completed at that institution toward this requirement. Students writing seminar papers are required to take the History Research Seminar course in their first year in the MA or Ph.D. program respectively. Doctoral students who completed their Master’s in the Department of History and took the History Research Seminar course as part of their Master’s coursework may be exempted from this requirement with the consent of their doctoral advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students will write their seminar papers under the direction of a faculty member with the appropriate expertise. It is the responsibility of the student to approach the professor s/he would like to direct his/her seminar paper by the conclusion of fall semester of the student’s first year in the MA or Ph.D. program to request that the professor supervise the project. Faculty members are free to accept or decline this request as they see fit, and to make acceptance of working with a student conditional on the student selecting a topic that aligns with the professor’s expertise and advice. For students who have questions about which faculty members to approach as potential supervisors of their project, the Director of Graduate Studies will provide guidance upon request.

During the spring semester in which the student is enrolled in the History Research Seminar, each student will continue to consult his/her supervising professor (on a schedule set by that professor), who will retain intellectual direction of the project but who will not be expected to handle the student’s day-to-day work at this stage. The professor teaching the seminar will retain grading responsibility for the work done in the seminar course, though the student’s supervising professor will see the final written products of the seminar (robust prospectus and robust annotated bibliography) and could give feedback (including suggestions on grades if s/he wishes) to the seminar professor.

As the spring semester concludes, each student will meet with his/her supervising professor, who will set a gameplan and specific set of expectations for the student’s work on the seminar paper project over the summer, including the specific ‘product’ the student will be required to produce by the end of the summer. This could be a specific amount of research completed; a robust outline for the paper; a first draft of the paper, etc. – that is up to the supervising professor to decide. By the beginning of the subsequent fall semester, each student will present this summer work ‘product’ to the supervising professor. Students will receive a quality grade on their performance in their summer work in a 1-credit directed research course (HY-698) they will register for with their supervising professor.

Students will complete their seminar papers in another directed research course (HY-698), this one worth two credit hours, taken with the supervising professor in the fall semester of their second year in the MA or Ph.D. program. The schedule for meetings, for the submission of drafts, etc., during the semester will be up to the supervising professor, who will also have sole grading responsibility for the final product.

In order to provide students writing seminar papers each fall with a cohort experience and peer-critique on their work, all will be required to attend a mandatory seminar paper writing group coordinated by the Director of Graduate Studies.


M.A. students in History, as well as Ph.D. students in American History, are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language. Ph.D. students in fields other than American History must demonstrate reading proficiency in two foreign languages. Students may fulfill this requirement by passing a translation examination administered by the Department of Modern Languages and Classics, or by passing a translation examination administered by a faculty member in the Department of History with the requisite expertise in the language. Students wishing to take language proficiency exams administered by Departmental faculty will inform the Director of Graduate Studies, who will then check to see if there is a faculty member who is qualified and available to administer an exam in that language. Faculty participation is strictly voluntary (students should not approach the faculty member directly.) If a faculty examiner is available, the Director of Graduate Studies will let the student know, and it will be up to the student to contact the faculty examiner and make arrangements for the exam. Language proficiency exams administered by Department of History faculty will follow the general pattern set by the language exams administered by the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. Students will translate two passages of modern academic prose (or, in the case of ancient languages, of primary-source texts in those languages) of no more than 300 words each from the testing language into English, producing translations that capture the meaning of the original text while also reading clearly and smoothly as English prose (in other words, the translation must make sense in English.) Passages will be selected by the faculty member administering the exam. Students will have two hours to complete the exam, and will be allowed the use of a dictionary of their choice. Exams must be taken without the presence of other people in a location such as the Summersell Room or the Pancake Room, and must be taken without access to the internet. Exams will be graded pass/fail, with a grade of ‘pass’ indicating the testing faculty member’s assessment that the student’s translations demonstrate an adequate level of comprehension of the language such that the student could make use of the language with some benefit in his/her academic work. Students who fail an exam will be allowed to make arrangements with the Director of Graduate Studies to test again, pending the availability and consent of a faculty examiner. Ph.D. students must pass their language exams before taking their Ph.D. comprehensive examinations. M.A. students are strongly encouraged to take their language exam by the end of their first year in the program. M.A. students intending to graduate in Summer Semester must schedule their first-attempt exam no later the preceding 15 February. M.A. students intending to graduate in Fall Semester must schedule their first-attempt exam no later than the preceding 30 April. M.A. students intending to graduate in Spring Semester must schedule their first-attempt exam no later than the preceding 1 December.

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