PhD Procedures | Department of History

PhD Procedures


I. Acceptance into the Program

A. Admission to the PhD program is competitive and the UNT Department of History takes a holistic approach in evaluating applicants. Letters of intent that contextualize a prospective student's application play a significant role in our admissions decisions. GRE scores are NOT required but are highly recommended. We do NOT have a minimum GPA or GRE score requirement, nor do we have a minimum undergraduate credit-hour in history requirement. However, the general guidelines below provide a broad picture of some of the common characteristics of successful applicants to our PhD program.

(1) Score in the 70th percentile or higher on the verbal portion and 4.0 or higher on the analytical/writing portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
(2) Provide a statment of purpose that explains why the applicant wishes to pursue a PhD in History at UNT. This statement should describe the central insights and intellectual questions that motivate their interests in history; the specific fields of historical study in which they are interested; the broader goals they hope to achieve through their research and scholarship; and it should also demonstrate how specific faculty members, elements of our curriculum and/or other university resources would make UNT an ideal home for their PhD training.
(3) Provide a writing sample of scholarly work, based on original research, that demonstrates a preparedness to undertake graduate study in history.
(4) Provide at least three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's post-secondary academic record, who are able to discuss and contextualize the applicant's potential for success in UNT's Ph.D. History program.
(5) At a minimum, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Many successful applicants to the PhD program also hold an MA or MS degree in History or an associated field of study.
(6) Meet all other university requirements.

B. Student's whose application files are incomplete by the department's current application deadline may register as an undeclared major with Toulouse Graduate School and enroll in graduate history courses (with the written permission of the appropriate faculty; note faculty are not required to give permission) while they complete all of the history admission requirements. Such students may transfer up to twelve hours of this history graduate coursework to count towards the completion of his/her history doctoral degree, if they are admitted to the history doctoral program. Admission to the History graduate program is not guaranteed by enrolling as an undeclared major.

C. The departmental Graduate Committee reviews the application file of each candidate and determines whether that student will be admitted into the Department's history doctoral program.

II. Advising, Choosing a Major Professor, and Picking a Student's Doctoral Committee

A. Upon admission, the Department's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will serve as the general advisor for all incoming Ph.D. students. The DGS will assign incoming students an initial faculty mentor to guide them until the student selects a major professor. The student may ask the initial faculty mentor or another professor to serve as major professor.

B. Prior to completion of their first nine (9) hours of graduate history coursework, students must meet with the Associate Director of Graduate Studies (ADGS) to discuss fulfillment of program requirements.

C. After the completion of their first nine (9) hours of graduate history coursework, and no later than their completion of eighteen (18) total hours of graduate history coursework, students should select a major professor (in consultation with the DGS and/or ADGS) from among the department's current. Note that faculty members have the right to refuse to serve as a major professor--the picking of a major professor must be a mutual decision between student and faculty member.

D. The major professor will serve as chair of the student's committee and director of the student's dissertation. The student will then, in consultation with the major professor, select three additional committee members from among the department's current graduate faculty (or two history faculty and one faculty from the student's approved minor field). The major professor and committee members must match up with the approved designations of comprehensive examination fields in four distinct areas as detailed below. If a committee member is no longer on the faculty at the time of the dissertation defense, the member may remain on the committee but may not serve as major professor.

E. The student must coordinate with the ADGS to complete a degree plan once the committee is set, no later than the completion of a student's first 18 hours of graduate history coursework. The ADGS or DGS, the Department Chair, and the Dean of Toulouse Graduate School all certify the degree plan.

III. Degree Requirements

A. The doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is offered in four general concentrations: (1) Europe, (2) United States, (3) Military, and (4) Body, Place, Identity.

After completing all course work and the language requirement, doctoral students will be examined in four areas of history selected in consultation with their major professor. A minimum of two areas must come from the student's main concentration, and one area must come from one of the three remaining concentrations or the World examination fields. All dissertation and exam areas must conform to the list of fields currently recognized by the Department.
B. Students entering with only a BA degree must complete:

(1) A total of fifty-four (54) classroom hours of graduate coursework, including 3 credits of HIST 5940; 3 credits of HIST 6000; and 15 credits (5 courses) of research seminars. No more than nine credit hours can come from independent study courses without approval of the Department's Graduate Committee.

(2) twelve (12) dissertation hours (HIST 6950).

C. Students entering with a MA or MS degree must complete:

(1) A total of thirty (30) classroom hours of graduate coursework, including a minimum of four graduate-level history seminar courses (12 credit hours); and 3 hours of historiography (HIST 6000). No more than six credit hours can come from independent study courses without approval of the Department's Graduate Committee.

(2) twelve (12) dissertation hours (HIST 6950).

IV. Comprehensive (Qualifying) Examinations

A. A Ph.D. student who completes 30 hours (or 54 hours for BA-PhD) of coursework and meets the language requirement is eligible to schedule and take the comprehensive examination--first the written, then the oral.

B. The ADGS in consultation with the Graduate Program Assistant and the major professor will be responsible for certifying the eligibility of the student to take the comprehensive examination by determining whether all requirements (language, seminars, courses, etc.) have been met.

C. Once eligible as defined above in IV. A and B, the student must schedule and successfully complete written and oral comps within one calendar year.

D. The student will work with their committee members to choose a week that their comprehensive examinations will take place (not during UNT holidays when campus is closed). Once the examination period has been selected, the departmental Graduate Program Assistant will notify the faculty members representing the student's four examination areas to prepare and submit questions for the written portion of the examination.

E. All written comprehensive examinations will be administered electronically at a location determined by the student (typically at home or at an office).

  1. The student will prepare a schedule prepared by which to pick up the set of questions for one area per day, answer it, and return the examination and answers to the departmental Graduate Program Assistant, who will deliver them to the professor for grading. The student will follow this procedure until the schedule is complete.
  2. Each professor will grade the examination over their area and then will notify the Graduate Program Assistant in writing (preferably by e-mail) as to whether or not the student passed the faculty member's written examination. If the student passes all four written examinations, the oral portion of the exams commences.
  3. If the student receives a failing grade on any of the written examinations, the student's committee will determine whether the student will be dropped from the doctoral program or allowed to retake the examination(s) failed. The committee will also determine whether any additional formal coursework will be required and will set a date for the re-examination.
  4. Students who receive a failing grade on a written examination on their second attempt will be dropped from the program. Students failing a second examination may appeal to the Graduate Committee for a third and final attempt.

F. When the student has completed the written examinations to the satisfaction of those conducting them on either the first or second try, the major professor, in consultation with the advisory committee, will arrange the time and place for the oral examination, which will be administered no sooner than ten calendar days and no more than three calendar weeks after the last written examination. These time limitations may be revised by the unanimous consent of the student's advisory committee and the Director or Associate Director of Graduate Studies.

  1. The oral qualifying examination will cover the student's written answers in the four chosen examination areas as well as relevant coursework the student has had with each committee member, and the examining committee will be structured for this purpose.
  2. Upon completion of the oral examination, the student's committee will decide whether the performance was satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The committee will report its decision to the Department Chair, and this report will be made a part of the student's departmental file.
  3. All examiners should base their decision on the student's entire performance over the whole examination. Two or more negative votes will constitute an unsatisfactory rating. If the performance is unsatisfactory, the committee must decide whether the student shall terminate studies or do additional work. In the latter case, the committee will counsel the student about their future program. The committee will decide whether the student must complete all the qualifying examinations again or retake only a portion of them. These decisions will be included in the committee's report to the Department Chair.
  4. If the committee allows the student to retake the examination or a portion of it, the committee will repeat the same process of decision and report in writing to the Department Chair. If, in the opinion of the majority of the advisory committee, the student performs unsatisfactorily in any aspect of the second oral examination, the student will be dropped from the program. Students failing their second oral examination attempt may appeal to the Graduate Committee for a third and final try.

V. Approval of Dissertation Topic

A. The student's advisory committee will discuss and approve or reject the dissertation topic at the close of the successful oral examination. If the advisory committee rejects the dissertation topic, the student and the major professor will revise the dissertation proposal for resubmission to the committee as soon as possible.

B. Prior to the preliminary examinations, the major professor will add a required member from outside the department to the committee. This outside member will participate in the approval of the dissertation topic and will advise and participate in the evaluation of the dissertation as a scholarly and original work.

C. Though the outside member will not participate in the comprehensive examinations, he/she may attend the oral examination to give advice on the dissertation topic. If the outside member cannot be present at the approval of the dissertation topic meeting, the major professor will arrange for the outside member's approval or rejection of the dissertation topic as soon as possible after the proceedings.

VI. Approval of Dissertation

A. The major professor will direct the dissertation and the associated research; however, all members of the committee (including the outside member) will be equally responsible for its final approval.

B. The major professor shall keep all members of the committee informed on the progress of the dissertation and provide each member ample opportunity to read and evaluate the dissertation as it progresses to avoid major revisions of the completed dissertation.

C. The dissertation must be completed and approved by the student's committee within eight calendar years from the date that they enrolled in their first graduate-level history course listed on their degree plan to complete the Ph.D. degree.

D. Students must apply for graduation with Toulouse prior to scheduling their oral defense.

E. Upon completing the dissertation, the student will make a final oral defense over that completed research.

  1. The student in consultation with the major professor and the advisory committee will arrange the time and place for the final defense with the departmental program assistant. Before the defense, the major professor should check with the departmental Graduate Program Assistant to see if the graduate school's form to report the defense's result is in the student's file. This form is generated when the student files for graduation. The student and major professor should note the catalog date by which defense results must be reported [and the dissertation filed if applicable] if the student is to graduate in any particular semester. If the examination is taken [and the dissertation is filed] after that date but before the end of the semester, the student's degree will be conferred at the next commencement.
  2. All members of the student's advisory committee will be present at the defense, and any interested member of the Department of History may also attend. The committee will make its decision on the dissertation in a manner analogous to those on the comprehensive oral defense. Two or more negative votes will constitute non-acceptance of the dissertation. In that case, the advisory committee will decide whether the student should terminate studies or rewrite all or part of the dissertation. In the latter case, the committee will state in writing how it will determine whether those new requirements have been met.
  3. Upon successful completion of the oral dissertation defense, the committee will complete the proper report form and submit it to the departmental program assistant, who will then forward it to Toulouse Graduate School for certification that the student has satisfactorily completed all departmental requirements for the appropriate Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must also be submitted to Toulouse Graduate School for final approval by deadlines set forth in the Graduate catalog in the semester the student wishes to graduate (see Toulouse website for instructions, including final formatting).

VII. Department Policy on Maximum Hours of non-Dissertation Coursework and Grades of "Incomplete" on Graduate Courses

A. The department recognizes that sometimes it is necessary due to extenuating circumstances for students to take more than the required thirty credit hours of graduate coursework (exclusive of dissertation hours) in pursuit of their Ph.D. degree. It is still in the best interests of all parties involved (students, department, and university), however, to have students finish their Ph.D. degree in as timely a manner as possible. Towards this end, any student who wishes to take more than thirty-nine credit hours of graduate coursework (again, exclusive of dissertation hours) while pursuing his or her Ph.D. degree must get the approval of the departmental Graduate Committee (in writing) for these excess hours. In addition, the student should be aware that the eight-year university limit on obtaining the degree overrides all other considerations.

B. An Incomplete Grade ("I") is a non-punitive grade given only during the last one-fourth of a term/semester and only if a student (1) is passing the course and (2) has a justifiable reason (such as serious illness), for not completing the work on schedule. The student must arrange with the instructor to finish the course at a later date by completing specific requirements. These requirements must be entered on the grade roster by the instructor. Grades of I assigned to a graduate course will default to F after a period of one year unless the instructor has designated a different automatic grade.

C. Students who have 3 outstanding graduate-level grades of "Incomplete" on their transcript at any given time will not be allowed to register for further classes until at least one of the "Incompletes" is removed. Students may not sit for their comprehensive examinations or register for dissertation hours if they have any grades of "Incomplete" on their UNT graduate record.

VIII. General Statement of Departmental Philosophy and Appeals Procedures

A. All of the preceding departmental policies are meant to facilitate our doctoral students' completion of the Ph.D. degree in a timely manner and in a way that meets the needs of the student, the department, and the university.

B. With the above statement being a general framework, the department realizes that each student's path to the degree will be different and that any given student may encounter circumstances in their program of study that fall outside of departmental policies.

C. In recognition of the above stated fact, Ph.D. students who face extraordinary circumstances that make adherence to particular departmental policies problematic for them may appeal to the Graduate Committee for a waiver of the policy in question.

D. Such appeals must be made in writing to the DGS and/or the Department Chair, who will then present the appeal to the Graduate Committee for discussion and a vote. Decisions on appeals of departmental policy made by the Graduate Committee are not meant to set precedent for future appeals of a similar nature by other students. Every reasonable effort will be made by the Committee to render decisions in a timely manner.

Graduate Study Concentrations with Areas for Comprehensive Exam Fields

The doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is offered in four general concentrations: (1) Europe, (2) United States, (3) Body, Place, and Identity, and (4) Military History. The list of fields under each concentration can be found under each Concentration listed in the menu.