Ph.D. Program in History
General Information and Requirements
At the University of Nevada, Reno, areas of major study (dissertation) for
the Ph.D. in History include Nevada and the West, U.S. history, American
Studies, cultural history, History of Science, History of Medicine, or
selected fields in European history.
Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold the Master of Arts degree, in history or a closely related discipline, from an accredited college or university (acceptable fields outside history to be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Graduate Studies Committee). Admission to full Graduate Standing for Ph.D. applicants requires a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in all undergraduate and graduate work and satisfactory scores on the GRE general test. Potential applicants without an M.A. in history should talk with the Graduate Advisor to determine whether their graduate work in a related field is comparable to that expected. Detailed information on applying to the Ph.D. program is found in the section "How to Apply for Admission." Ph.D. admissions are entirely separate from M.A. admissions; completion of the M.A. program at the University of Nevada, Reno does not ensure admission to the Ph.D. program.
The following requirements (listed in order of completion) apply to all students in the Ph.D. program.
- Time Limit. All requirements must be satisfied during the eight calendar
years immediately preceding the granting of the degree.
- Admission to Candidacy. Admission to a Ph.D. program of study does not
imply admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. No Ph.D. student is
admitted to candidacy until he or she has passed the comprehensive
examinations (see below).
- Total Credits. The Ph.D. degree in History requires a minimum of 49
credits past the M.A., of which at least 24 must be in course work.
- Grades. A graduate student in the Department of History will not be
granted credit toward the degree for any course (including transfer courses)
in which the final grade is below a "B" (3.0).
- Course Expectations. A term paper or its equivalent will be required in
each course taken for graduate credit in the Department of History.
- Continuous Registration. By Graduate School regulations, graduate
students must maintain continuous registration of at least three graduate
credits per semester to remain active in the pursuit of a degree. This means
that students studying for comprehensive exams or writing theses must (even
if they are not in residence) register for at least three graduate credit
hours each semester (summers excluded) until they graduate. Failure to
enroll in at least three credits per semester -- or to request an official
Leave of Absence (Graduate School
form) -- will result in a student's being
dropped from Graduate Standing; the Department may subsequently decide
whether or not to readmit the student.
- Residence. By Graduate School requirements, a Ph.D. degree requires a
minimum of six semesters of full-time work beyond the baccalaureate degree,
including at least two consecutive semesters (excluding summer sessions) to be spent in full-time residence at the University of Nevada, Reno.
(Full-time residence requires a minimum of nine credits per semester.
Graduate teaching assistants taking at least six credits per semester are
also considered to be in full-time residence.) This requirement may be
satisfied by dissertation credits earned in residence, but admission to
candidacy may not occur until the residency requirement has been met.
- Paperwork. The student is responsible for a knowledge of the degree
requirements and for the timely submission of all Graduate School forms.
Early in their graduate careers, students should become familiar with the
most important of these forms: the Program of Study, the Notice of
Completion, and the Application for Graduation.
Before proceeding beyond nine credits of Graduate Study, the student must have accomplished the following:
- Proseminar. All candidates for the Ph.D. in History are required to take
History 600 (Proseminar), ordinarily during the first semester of enrollment
(unless they have taken the proseminar as M.A. students at the University of
Nevada, Reno). The proseminar provides an introduction to the members of the
Department and the examination fields offered, to the requirements of the
graduate program in History, and to the graduate study of history.
- Entrance Interview. Each student in the Ph.D. program will be evaluated
by the Department during the first six weeks of enrollment beyond the
Master's degree. The evaluation will take the form of an interview by the
Department, to assess background, strengths, possible deficiencies, in order
to assist the Department in recommending and setting up a program for the
student. Based upon this evaluation and the student's subsequent work, his
or her committee may recommend a program that includes additional
requirements or other adjustments to the requirements as listed in this
- Fields of Study. In consultation with the Graduate Advisor, the student
must select three fields of study (leading to comprehensive examinations
over a broad spectrum of historical material) from the list of Ph.D.
Examination Fields. Usually these fields will be from a minimum
of two groups. One field should be in the same subject area as the
dissertation (see # 27 below). One field may be taken in a department
outside History with the approval of the student's committee. The student's
examination fields, research emphasis, and dissertation topic must be
approved by his or her committee and the Graduate Director on the basis of
adequate library resources in the field and committed faculty involvement.
- Graduate Committee. The student must secure the agreement of a member of
the department faculty to supervise (chair) his or her doctoral
dissertation, and an advisory committee must be appointed, subject to that
chair's approval. Ordinarily this committee consists of those faculty
members supervising each of the student's fields of study, plus two faculty
members outside the Department of History. Each field of study should be
supervised by a different faculty member. (If a student is pursuing an
examination field outside History, the faculty member supervising that field
does not count as an outside member of the committee.) In all cases the
student's committee must include at least three members of the Department of
History and at least two faculty members from outside the Department; all
must be members of the Graduate Faculty.
- Transfer Credits. A maximum of 24 credits in graduate courses with
grades of "B" or higher may be transferred from another university and
applied toward the Ph.D., with the approval of the student's committee and
the Graduate Advisor. A master's degree from another university can thus
transfer as 24 credits, at most. Credit completed as a Graduate Special
student or in graduate work outside the University may or may not count
toward the total degree requirements, at the discretion of the student's
committee. To transfer graduate credits from another university, a student
must complete the "Graduate Transfer Evaluation Request" (Graduate School
form). Normally only courses taken in History will be considered for
- Program of Study Form. In consultation with the committee members and
the Graduate Advisor, the student completes the "Advisory - Examining
Committee/Program of Study" (Graduate School form). The student should list
all courses that he or she plans to take en route to the degree and that
will fulfill the requirements of the degree, including comprehensive exams
(History 795) and dissertation (History 799). It is imperative that the
student consult with each member of his or her committee, so that all
courses necessary for each examination field are included in the Program of
Study. Members of the committee should not sign the form until the
program-of-study meeting (#15 below).
- Program of Study Meeting. Having completed the Program of Study form, the student arranges a meeting to be attended by all members of his or her committee and the Graduate Advisor. At this meeting, the student explains his or her program of study (fields and courses) and scholarly interests. The committee members and Graduate Advisor review the Program of Study form to ensure that it includes all courses necessary for the chosen fields and satisfies all requirements of the program. If the form is deemed complete and satisfactory, the faculty members sign the form, which is then forwarded to the Graduate School for official approval and filing.
After beginning the Ph.D. program but before taking comprehensive
examinations, the student must accomplish the following:
- Specific Course Work Requirements. In addition to History 600 (Proseminar), all Ph.D. students are required to take either History 781 (Historiography: The Americas), History 783 (Historiography) or History 785 (U.S. Historiography) AND one of the following: History 700 (Cultural Studies and History), History 701 (Philosophy of History), or History 780 (Methodology).
- Seminar Requirement. Of the applicant's course work, at least 12 credits
must be in seminars. Three of these credits must be chosen from a group
other than the major field of study. The student should complete a seminar
related to each of his or her examination fields, in order to prepare for
the comprehensive examinations. Exceptions to this policy may be approved by
the student's committee.
- Independent Study/Readings. For most students, some course work occurs
as independent graduate readings in history (History 697, 698, 703, or 705).
Under each of these numbers, a limited number of credits may be taken (9 in
History 698 and 705, 6 in History 697 and 703). Students should keep track
of their credits in these courses, so as not to exceed the maximums. Any
course taken under such an arrangement should be documented in writing
(Department of History form), before the beginning of the semester and at
the completion of the course. Completion of this form, signed by the
supervising professor, is required for enrollment in independent-readings
- History 737. History 737 (Practicum in History) may be prescribed, on an
individual basis, for those students who will be teaching in the Department.
It is also available to students seeking internship or supervised research
experience. History 737 may not count toward fulfilling credit requirements
for the Ph.D. in History.
- Foreign Language Requirement. A current working knowledge of one foreign
language other than the student's native language (not English) is required.
Students planning on dissertation research which focuses on a foreign
culture should expect to be examined in the principal language of that
culture. Currency is determined by the student's completion with a grade of
"C" or better of a fourth-level language course while a graduate student at
UNR, or by the successful passing of a language examination designed and
administered by the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Foreign
Languages and Literatures. The student's committee may impose further
requirements if deemed necessary for the student's program and professional
objectives. The language requirement must be satisfied before taking
- Changes in Committee Members/Examination Fields. A student may change his or her examination fields or committee members only with the approval of his or her committee chair and the Graduate Advisor. Such changes may require the student to take additional courses. If the chair and Graduate Advisor will determine that the resulting change in the student's program warrants a new program-of-study meeting, the student will arrange that meeting as in #15 above. A change in the student's major field and/or committee chair will ordinarily require a new program-of-study meeting. If the change does not warrant a new meeting, the student should complete the "Change in Advisory Committee" form (Graduate School form), obtain the requisite signatures of the outgoing and incoming committee members, and submit the form to the Graduate Director for processing.
- Format and Schedule. Each student must pass comprehensive written
examinations of approximately six hours in length in each of his or her
fields (as described in #11 above). Previous exams are kept on file in the
Department of History; students may consult those exams in the History
office. Exams are offered only during fall and spring semesters. The
Graduate Advisor schedules all exams within a one-week period, generally
around the thirteenth week of the semester. They are to be taken during the
student's final semester of regular course work.
- Evaluation and Re-examination. All exams are read by at least two
members of the Department of History, except in fields taken outside the
department. The student's committee may, when the examiners believe that
additional study is justified, permit the student to arrange for
re-examination in case of failure. Failure in the student's major field of
study may lead to dismissal from the Ph.D. program. No part of the
examination may be retaken more than once.
- Credits. Comprehensive examinations (History 795) count for one credit.
If a student must retake an exam after the semester in which exams were
originally taken, he or she will receive a grade of Unsatisfactory, to be
replaced with Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory after the re-examination.
After successful completion of comprehensive examinations:
- Admission to Candidacy. The student is formally admitted to candidacy
upon passing the comprehensive examinations, if the residency requirement
has been satisfied (see #7 above). At this point, the "Doctoral Degree
Admission to Candidacy/ Comprehensive Examination Report" (Graduate School
form) should be signed by the committee and submitted to the Graduate
Director for filing.
- Prospectus Colloquium. Upon passing the comprehensive examinations, the
student prepares a prospectus for his or her dissertation, which is formally
presented to the advisory committee at a prospectus colloquium. Typically
the prospectus includes a bibliography and an extensive description of
intended contents, methodology, and archival sources. The colloquium is a
public event of roughly ninety minutes, to which the History faculty and
graduate students are invited. Ordinarily the candidate will make a brief
(15-20 minute) presentation on his or her proposal, followed by questions
from the committee and others assembled. After approval of the prospectus,
the student may proceed to the dissertation.
- Dissertation. Among the fields of study for the Ph.D., a select number
are designated as areas for potential dissertation topics; these are
indicated by an asterisk on the list below. The other fields listed are
NOT available for dissertation research within the Department of History.
Within the marked fields, the specific topics must be approved by the
student's graduate studies committee based upon factors such as requisite
language skills, library and archival resources, and available faculty
expertise. The student must secure the agreement of a faculty member to
serve as the dissertation advisor. The dissertation is a work of significant
original scholarly research and analysis. It should contribute to historical
knowledge, exhibit a mastery of the sources and secondary literature of the
subject and the techniques of exploiting them, and display a fair degree of
literary skill. It should be submitted in accordance with the guidelines
provided by the Graduate School. Students should obtain those guidelines at
the beginning of the dissertation process, in order to avoid reformatting
later. The Chicago Manual of Style, latest edition, will be the
authoritative guide to style and form for all doctoral dissertations.
- Students must purchase and complete an online application for graduation
in each semester when they wish to graduate. The application is
available at http://www.unr.edu/grad/graduation.html. Applications are due March 1 for May Graduation; June 1 for August
Graduation; and October 1 for December Graduation. (There is no longer
a policy allowing graduation applications to "roll over" to a subsequent
semester.) See the Graduate
School Website for details.
(Note: The Graduate School allows students to "roll-over" a graduation application to a subsequent degree cycle, should requirements for the degree not be completed in the semester when the student originally applied to graduate. A roll-over may be used only once for a purchased graduation application, and students must notify the Graduate School in writing of the intention to roll-over an application. See the Graduate School website for details.)
The application for graduation provides a final list of all courses the student has taken in order to complete the program. If that list in any way deviates from the one on the Program of Study form, the student must attach a "Change in Program of Study" form (Graduate School form) detailing the changes. If the student's committee has changed, he or she must attach the "Change of Advisory Committee" form (Graduate School form).
- Final Oral Examination. After the doctoral dissertation has been
received by the advisory committee, a final oral examination (60-90 minutes)
on the dissertation and related topics will be conducted. The final oral
exam is a public event, to which the University community is invited. Upon
passage of the oral exam and acceptance of the dissertation, the committee
members sign the "Doctoral Degree Notice of Completion" (Graduate School
The Notice of Completion form and the approved dissertation are generally due to the Graduate School ten days to two weeks before the end of the semester in which the student intends to graduate. Deadlines are published on the Graduate School's website and in each semester's course schedule. It is the student's responsibility to plan his or her work so as to meet these various deadlines.
WRITTEN COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION FIELDS: Ph.D.
The following are the groups and fields of historical study open for Ph.D. examinations:
Potential dissertation fields are indicated by an asterisk (*); within those fields, specific dissertation topics are limited as explained in point 27 above.
- U.S. 1740-1815
- U.S. 19th Century*
- U.S. 20th Century*
- U.S. Social History*
- U.S. Cultural/Intellectual History*
- African American History
- American Environmental History*
- Nevada and the West*
- Early Modern Europe
- Europe 1789-1914
- Europe 1890 - Present*
- European Cultural/Intellectual History*
- Family and Community in European
- British Isles Since 1688*
- British Empire
- Russia to 1900
- 20th Century Russia and the Soviet Union*
- Colonial Latin American History*
- Modern Latin America
- Traditional East Asian History
- Modern East Asian History
- 20th Century East Asia
- Latin American Cultural/Social History*
- East Asian Cultural History
- Ancient Africa
- Modern Africa
- Cultural Theory*
- Gender Studies*
- History of Medicine*
- History of Science*
- Popular Culture and Diaspora Studies
- Comparative Fields (such as slavery, socialism, environmental history, 16th
- Fields in other departments (such as Basque Studies, historical archaeology)