Doctor of Philosophy Program


A. In addition to fulfillment of the general requirements of the Graduate College, admission to doctoral study in history will be based upon the recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee to the Head of the department.

B. The preferred background for admission is an M.A. degree in history with a thesis. The Graduate Studies Committee will consider other applications on an individual basis. Students with insufficient hours in history may be required by the Graduate Studies Committee to take additional hours at the 5000/6000 level. Students should already have made progress toward proficiency in a foreign language.

C. The Graduate Studies Committee will give preference to applicants with an overall grade point average of 3.5 or above in their M.A. program.

D. Applicants should have three letters of recommendation sent to the Department of History from individuals qualified to comment upon their previous work and aptitude for graduate study in history.

E. Applicants are required to submit scores for the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections of the Graduate Record Examination.


The Ph.D. program requires at least sixty hours beyond the M.A. degree. Students must select three fields of study – a general field (at least fifteen hours), a major field (at least twelve hours), and a minor field (at least nine hours), from the options shown below. The minor fields must not duplicate the general field. To be admitted to candidacy, students must pass comprehensive examinations, demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language, have an approved dissertation proposal, and submit a Plan of Study to the Graduate College before writing a dissertation. All Ph.D. students must take Historiography (HIST 6023) and Teaching History at the College Level (HIST 5021). Students without an M.A. thesis must take Historical Methods (HIST 5023). With the consent of their advisory committee, students may apply graduate course work taken outside the History Department to their major field.

General Fields:

United States
Europe to 1789
Europe after 1789

Major Fields (including but not limited to):

United States West
Native North America
Thematic fields (may be transnational)
Science, medicine, and technology
War and society
Race and ethnicity

Minor Fields:
Ancient World
Middle East
Latin America
Public History
Thematic fields (may be transnational)
Science, medicine, and technology
War and society
Race and ethnicity


A. Students must request appointment of an advisory committee prior to enrollment for the fifteenth
graduate credit hour beyond the M.A. degree.

B. Upon the recommendation of the departmental Director of Graduate Studies, an advisory committee of no fewer than four voting members will be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College. This committee consists of members of the OSU Graduate Faculty (at least one from each of the examination fields and one from outside the History Department), including the student’s advisor, who acts as chairperson and must have Ph.D. chairing privileges. The chair must hold an OSU faculty appointment, normally a tenured or tenure-track appointment in the History Department. The chair’s duties include convening meetings of the advisory committee as appropriate; ensuring compliance with policies, procedures, and requirements; coordinating preparation and evaluation of comprehensive examinations; overseeing the Plan of Study and dissertation submission processes; and ensuring that the research topic undertaken is appropriate to satisfy degree requirements, with the results openly accessible. The duties of other members of the student’s advisory committee include giving direction to the student’s preparation for comprehensive examinations; participating in preparing and evaluating comprehensive examinations in accord with Graduate College and departmental program requirements; attending meetings of the advisory committee; reviewing draft documents of the dissertation; and consulting regularly with other committee members and the student to monitor progress toward the degree. The outside member, who must be a member of the OSU Graduate Faculty, serves as the representative of the Graduate College and ensures that appropriate academic standards and a high level of integrity are maintained in the processes used to review and evaluate the student.

C. The Plan of Study must be approved by the advisory committee and filed with the Graduate College prior to enrollment for the fifteenth graduate credit hour.


A. A minimum of sixty semester graduate credit hours beyond the M.A. degree is required, with a “B” average for all courses. Students must take Historiography (HIST 6023) and Teaching History at the College Level (HIST 5021). Students without an M.A. thesis must take Historical Methods (HIST 5023). Students must take at least eighteen hours of seminar including at least three hours of research seminar. Course work to be completed will be indicated on a Plan of Study. Students may include no more than six hours in History 6100 courses and six hours in History 6130 courses.

B. Students who plan to take comprehensive examinations must have an updated Plan of Study on file and must have completed all courses required by the Plan, except for dissertation hours. They must also have met the foreign language requirement. In preparing for comprehensive examinations, students must not only complete and review all course work but also read extensively in their examination fields. It is recommended that students consult with members of their advisory committee in identifying major works in their fields of study.



Incompletes must be cleared within one year. The Graduate Studies Committee will review the status of graduate students with more than nine hours of incomplete.


Any person admitted to the graduate program who has not received his or her M.A. will be allowed one semester to complete the prior degree. Those who fail to complete the prior degree within one semester after beginning the Ph.D. program will not be permitted to continue. Those removed from the program may reapply for admission with evidence of the prior degree. They may be considered for available financial aid and assistantships at the time of readmission along with other regular applicants.


Academic requirements for retaining an appointment as a Teaching Associate are stricter than those for maintaining standing in the Ph.D. program; for these requirements, see the document entitled “Teaching Assistants and Associates."


All graduate students are subject to an annual review of their progress conducted by the Graduate Studies Committee. If deficiencies are found, the student’s advisory committee will be notified. Failure to rectify deficiencies may lead to dismissal from the program.


A. Students must take comprehensive examinations in three fields. The foreign language
requirement must be met before students take comprehensive examinations.

B. Comprehensive examinations are offered once during each semester of the regular school

1. Students eligible and desiring to take these examinations must notify their advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies of their intention by the date announced at the beginning of the semester.

2. The student’s advisory committee serves as the examining committee, with one representative from each of the three fields. The advisor is responsible for soliciting questions from representatives of the two other fields, coordinating preparation and evaluation of the examination, and reporting the results of the examination to the Director of Graduate Studies. The examining committee will collectively approve the content of the examination and results; if there is disagreement, decisions are by majority vote.

3. The Graduate Studies Committee will prescribe procedural rules for administering the examinations. The Director of Graduate Studies will determine the date, time, and place for each examination, but no student may take two examinations on the same day. Each examination will be six hours in length.

C. Students must pass all three examination fields to satisfy this portion of the Ph.D. requirements.
If students are found deficient in a single field, they must retake that field examination the following semester. Students who fail two of the three exams must retake all three exams the following semester. Students may not take comprehensive examinations more than twice.

D. Examination procedures may be modified at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee.

E. Students must pass comprehensive examinations and be admitted to candidacy at least six months before the semester in which they expect to receive the Ph.D. degree.


Students are admitted to the status of candidacy when they have met the following requirements:

A. Met the foreign language requirement by one of the following means:

1. Passing the foreign language exam administered by the Director of Graduate Studies. For
information about the cost, scheduling, and procedures for the foreign language exam, see “Policies and Procedures for the Foreign Language Exam."

2. Completing fifteen college-level credits or more in a single foreign language with an overall B
average or higher.

3. Completing and earning a grade of B or higher in a language-immersion course approved by
the Graduate Studies Committee.

The student’s advisory committee may require additional proficiency in other languages, quantitative methods, or other research skills. Students are urged to complete their language requirement(s) by the end of their second semester of enrollment. Teaching Associates are required to take the foreign language examination in the second semester of enrollment and in each semester thereafter until the exam is passed. Students may also fulfill the foreign language requirement by completing fifteen hours of undergraduate coursework in a single language with an overall B average or by completing and earning a grade of a B or higher in a language immersion course approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. 

B. Received the approval of the student’s advisory committee for a dissertation proposal, in the form designated by the department, and filed it with the Director of Graduate Studies by the end of the semester after the student passes comprehensive examinations.

C. Passed comprehensive examinations.


A. Candidates must demonstrate a capacity for independent research by the production of an original dissertation on a topic within their major field of study. The advisor and the candidate’s advisory committee have the responsibility for supervising the research and writing of the dissertation and for approving the final draft. Normally dissertations will be in excess of two hundred pages, including historiography, notes, and bibliography.

B. The Graduate College requires completion of the final examination (oral defense) about four weeks before the end of the semester. Candidates must complete the dissertation sufficiently in advance of that deadline to permit careful review of the manuscript by all members of the student’s advisory committee.


Upon completion of the dissertation, candidates must successfully defend the dissertation in a session of approximately two hours in length. Passing the final examination requires a simple majority of the committee members. University regulations specify that the oral defense shall be open to all members of the Graduate Faculty. With the consent of the advisory committee, others may also attend.