Ph.D. Requirements

Ph.D. Requirements

Updated Spring 2017

  1. Schedule of Ph.D. Program
  2. Satisfactory Progress
  3. Residence and Course Requirements
  4. Graduate Research Assistantships
  5. Language Requirements
  6. TATTO Teaching Program
  7. General Examination
    1. General Examination Declaration
    2. General Examination Content (Fields)
    3. General Examination Committee
    4. General Examination Committee Approval
    5. General Examination Administration and Scheduling
    6. General Examination Evaluation
  8. The Dissertation Prospectus and the Dissertation
    1. The Prospectus Committee and the Prospectus
    2. The Dissertation Committee and the Dissertation
  9. Transfer Credit for Students Entering with the M.A. Degree
  10. Exceptions
  11. Grievance Policy

I. Schedule of Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program offered by the History Department encompasses course work, examinations (including examinations demonstrating language facility), and the research and writing of a doctoral dissertation.

Normally, students will take course work for two academic years, the General Examination in the Fall of the third year, and, upon passing this examination, proceed to the dissertation. A Dissertation Prospectus must be submitted and approved by the end of the semester following satisfactory completion of the General Examination.

At the end of the first two semesters of graduate work students making satisfactory progress are promoted to Advanced Standing. Upon passing the General Examination and approval of the Prospectus students are eligible to apply for admission to Ph.D. candidacy. The master's degree is earned on the basis of Ph.D. candidacy. The Graduate School requires that students take no more than eight years following promotion to Advanced Standing to complete their dissertations. To satisfy departmental language requirements (see Section IV below), students must demonstrate competency in one foreign language by the end of their first academic year. Competency in further foreign languages must be demonstrated by the end of the second academic year

II. Satisfactory Progress

Students are expected to proceed through the program making satisfactory grades and at a satisfactory pace. Satisfactory grades are defined as receiving at least as many A's and A-'s as B+'s, B's and B-'s in any given year. Satisfactory pace is defined as avoiding incompletes and keeping to the schedule outlined in Section I above. The department reviews the records of all students annually. Students failing to make satisfactory progress may be refused permission to take the General Examination. Funded students failing to make satisfactory progress may lose financial assistance.

Incompletes are granted by permission of the course instructor. Although Graduate School regulations permit students one academic year to complete incomplete work, students should understand that a grade of Incomplete formally constitutes unsatisfactory progress. Moreover, students will be placed on probation the term following receipt of a grade of F in any course or more than one Incomplete in any academic term. Students will become ineligible for financial aid unless the failed course is retaken or all Incompletes are removed.

The Graduate Committee reviews students’ records each semester. Students judged not to be making satisfactory progress on the basis of these reviews will be issued a warning. Subsequent failure by a warned student to achieve sufficient improvement may result in a recommendation to the Graduate School to issue a notice of probation. (The Graduate School will automatically place any student on probation falling below its own standards of acceptable progress, as described in the Graduate School Handbook.) Students on probation for two consecutive semesters, and facing the prospect of a third term in this situation, confront the possibility they will lose financial aid and/or be terminated from the graduate program.

III. Residence and Course Requirements

The minimal residence requirement is three academic years. The first of these years may be taken at another institution (see VIII below), but one of the two remaining years must normally be spent in continuous residence at Emory University. All or part of the final year, if circumstances make it advisable, may be spent in thesis research in libraries and manuscript repositories elsewhere. Tuition must nevertheless be paid to Emory for four semesters beyond the first academic year of graduate work.

The normal course load is three courses per semester for four semesters. Of these twelve courses, not more than two may be taken as Directed Reading (History 597r) and not more than two may be taken as supplemented undergraduate courses (History 596r, Special Studies). Students may not take more than three courses (including Directed Reading courses) with the same instructor and not more than three courses from instructors outside the department. Not more than two semesters of credit may be transferred from another institution (see Section VIII below).

Students entering the doctoral program will normally be required to enroll in History 583, Introduction to Advanced Historical Study, in the fall of their first year. Some fields may also require students to take a historiographical course specific to the field. In the spring of their first year, students are required to enroll in History 584, Research Workshop in History.

Students will write two seminar papers by the end of their second year.  Both are normally written in the semester following the basic seminar.  The first paper is usually written in the spring semester of the first year under the rubric of History 584 (Research Workshop in History). The second paper is written in the “P” course (P suffix to basic course number) offered in the semester following the basic seminar.  Both seminar papers will normally be written in courses offered by members or associated members of the History Department.  In exceptional cases, permission to write a seminar paper under the direction of a member of another department may be granted by the Director of Graduate Studies. 

IV. Graduate Research Assistantships

Students in their second year are asked to serve the Department as Graduate Assistants (GA).  To that end, students will be assigned to members of the Department to help with faculty research.  It is understood the work will not exceed five hours per week for one semester.  It is expected that faculty will make every effort to invest assigned tasks with significant pedagogical value.

V. Language Requirements

Reading competency in at least two foreign languages is required of Ph.D. candidates in all fields, except American History, which requires competency in a minimum of one.  In any focus area, however, a student's major adviser may elect to require language facility beyond these minimum guidelines. Students in Latin American History must show facility in both Spanish and Portuguese.

Facility in a foreign language will be demonstrated either by passing a translation examination (with dictionary) administered each semester or by passing, with a minimum grade of B, an approved reading or translation course above the 100-level at Emory. Facility demonstrated by examinations from other schools or by the Princeton Examination will not be accepted. In each translation examination a student may choose either to translate passages from materials selected by the examiner or to translate passages selected by the examiner from a book of over 200 pages with no known English translation submitted by the student for the examiner's approval at least 30 days prior to the examination. One language may be waived for native speakers of a language other than English, provided that this language is deemed relevant to their proposed research area as determined by their faculty advisors and approval by the Graduate Committee.

VI. TATTO Teaching Program

All graduate students are required to participate in the Teaching Assistant and Teacher Training Opportunity (TATTO) program. TATTO is designed to provide a systematic introduction to college teaching. The TATTO program offers (1) a Graduate School three and one-half day summer course covering general topics of importance, taken immediately prior to the first teaching experience; (2) a department seminar (History 786A: Introduction to College Teaching) in the fall semester of the second year which addresses pedagogical issues and teaching strategies, (3) a teaching assistantship (History 786B) in the fall or spring semester of the second year in a course taught by a department faculty member, (4) a teaching associateship in the fourth year (or possibly in the third year), following successful completion of doctoral exams in which students have the sole responsibility for teaching an introductory-level survey course, with supervision of a faculty member, (5) Dean's Teaching Fellowships for fifth-year students, available competitively through the Graduate School.

VII. General Examination

1. General Examination Declaration

By the end of the first year of residence, and after appropriate discussion with faculty members, each student will complete a Field and General Examination Committee Declaration Form identifying his or her General Examination Fields and specifying his or her General Examination Committees, with signatures to indicate the examiners are willing to serve. This form is to be returned to the Graduate Program Coordinator and placed in the student's file. Changes to either the Fields or General Examination Committees must be indicated in amended Declaration Forms.

2. General Examination Content (Fields)

Students will present 3 fields for their General Examination:

  1. Field I: will be defined chronologically and/or geographically.
  2. Field II: will also be defined chronologically and/or geographically and will relate to or complement Field I.
  3. Field III: will be thematic, topical, or theoretical.

3. General Examination Committee

Each field will be administered by at least 2 faculty; faculty may overlap across 2 fields but no faculty member may participate in all 3 fields. Participation of non-Departmental faculty on the General Examination Committees is allowed but restricted thus:

  • Permission to include non-University faculty must be received from the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Advisers and at least 1 member of each examination committee must be a member or associated member of the Department.

4. General Examination Committee Approval

Overall approval authority for the fields and the faculty administering them will be given to each student's adviser.

5. General Examination Administration and Scheduling

The General Examination will be regularly scheduled 4 times during the academic year: in September, November, January, and April.

Each student will take a written and oral examination. Students will take a written examination in each of the 3 fields they have prepared. To allow students both to construct thoughtful responses to the questions posed, and to allow time for reconsideration and revision, the written examination will be open-book and students will be given 6 business days to complete 6 exam questions. The following provisos apply:

  • Each field examination will include 2 sections and each section will include a choice of 2 questions.
  • Students may begin their examination on a Monday or a Thursday. The 6-day period will straddle a weekend, during which time no questions will be released. Students will not be expected to work on examinations during the weekend; it will be a period for regrouping and rest. In addition, the Wednesday of the exam week will be a day for rest, whether it falls between the first and second fields (if the student starts on a Monday) or the second and third (if the student starts on a Thursday).
  • Students will receive 1 section of a field per business day and will answer 1 question within a 9 hour block (i.e. 7:00 am - 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm - 2:00 am).
  • The two sections for a given field examination must be completed on successive business days. For example, if field 1 section 1 is taken on day 1, then field 1 section 2, must be taken on day 2.
  • The examination will be time-released via Blackboard and the student must email the answer to the field committee upon completion (or at the end of the 9 hour block) and carbon copy the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • Although there will be no formal minimum or maximum number of pages students may submit, the expectation is that the response to each of the written examination questions will be on the order of 7-10 double-spaced typed pages.

The oral examination will take no more than 2 hours, will be chaired by the student's adviser, and will cover all 3 fields. The faculty present at the oral examination will include at least 1 representative from each of the student's 3 fields, with a minimum of 3 faculty present.

6. General Examination Evaluation

A split (pass/fail) evaluation of a given written examination or a failure of a given written examination will normally prompt a new examination in that field. In some cases faculty may determine that another examination is not appropriate and that the student should move to a terminal MA. A split (pass/fail) vote or a failure of the oral examination will prompt a new oral examination. In case of a second failure in a given written examination and/or in the oral examination, a student will not be allowed to continue in the program unless a petition to that effect, supported by all members of that student's examination committee, is approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

VIII. The Dissertation Prospectus and the Dissertation

1. The Prospectus Committee and the Prospectus

Within one month of passing the general examination the student and adviser should identify a prospectus committee and schedule the presentation of the prospectus during the designated period in the following semester.

Prospectus Committee

The prospectus committee normally consists of five members:

  1. the prospectus director (who, if not already the student’s adviser, will assume that responsibility),
  2. two anticipated readers of the prospectus, and
  3. two additional faculty.

The prospectus director and at least one of the anticipated readers must be members or associated members of the Department. At least one member of the prospectus committee must be a full-time or joint member of the Department.

Typically the prospectus director and the two anticipated readers constitute the future dissertation committee.

Participation of non-Departmental faculty on prospectus committees is encouraged but restricted thus:

Permission to include non-University faculty must be received from the Director of Graduate Studies. Participation of non-University faculty on the prospectus committee will be in addition to three faculty from Emory.  (If non-University faculty will also be asked to serve on the dissertation committee, permission must be received from the Director of Graduate Studies and from the Laney Graduate School.  Participation of non-University faculty on the dissertation committee will be in addition to three Laney Graduate School faculty.)

Once the prospectus committee has been formed, the student is expected to work closely with its members in drawing up the prospectus. The prospectus is a brief explanation of the projected dissertation, outlining the proposed research, defining its validity as a dissertation subject, and suggesting the principal sources to be employed (maximum length of 10 pages plus bibliography). At least two weeks before the date of the prospectus meeting, the written document is to be turned in to the graduate coordinator for reproduction, along with a completed form certifying by their signatures that the three members of the dissertation committee consider the prospectus "ready to defend." Copies of the prospectus will then be made available in the History office.

The prospectus meeting is a public presentation and defense of the dissertation project, based on the written prospectus which has been distributed in advance. The candidate will introduce the subject briefly and then entertain questions from the committee and the audience. After a suitable length of time, the audience will be dismissed, including faculty members who are not on the prospectus committee, and the candidate will be asked to step out of the room while the prospectus committee confers. They will then invite the candidate to join them and discuss with the candidate any concerns they may have about the proposal.

In the event that a majority of the prospectus committee considers the proposal unacceptable in its present form, the committee will discuss the problem with the candidate and devise at that time a procedure for rectifying it. This procedure must be approved by a majority of the five prospectus committee members, including the dissertation director; the director is to take responsibility for implementing it. The committee might prescribe a further revision of the document or schedule future meetings. There will be no second public prospectus defense. The committee and the candidate should not adjourn until everyone has a clear understanding of the procedure to be followed.

When this entire process has been completed to the satisfaction of the majority of the prospectus committee including the dissertation director, the five members will sign a form signifying that the prospectus has been approved. The dissertation director will submit this form to the graduate coordinator.

2. The Dissertation Committee and the Dissertation

Following approval of the prospectus, the student will undertake the final component of the Ph.D.: completion of the Ph.D. dissertation. In completing their dissertations, students will work with their dissertation committees.

Dissertation Committee

The Laney Graduate School requires a minimum of three faculty members on a dissertation committee and at least three members of a dissertation committee must be Laney Graduate School faculty.

The dissertation committee will consist of:

  1. the dissertation director (who, if not already the student’s adviser, will assume that responsibility), and
  2. at least two other Laney Graduate School faculty.

The dissertation director and at least one other faculty must be members or associated members of the Department. At least one member of the dissertation committee must be a full-time or joint member of the Department.

Changes in the composition of dissertation committees must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Laney Graduate School.

Participation of non-Departmental faculty on dissertation committees is encouraged but restricted thus:

Permission to include non-University faculty must be received from the Director of Graduate Studies and from the Laney Graduate School.  Participation of non-University faculty on the dissertation committee will be in addition to three Laney Graduate School faculty.

In the January, after six months have elapsed since the prospectus, and each January thereafter until the Ph.D. degree is completed, the student will submit a one-page report on the progress of the dissertation, using a form that will be sent out by the Department. This report will be returned to the graduate coordinator who will keep it on file and distribute it to the dissertation director and the two readers. If readers are from outside the department, it will be distributed at the discretion of the director. It is expected that this report will provide an occasion for the student to discuss the project with the director.

At any time after the student has completed a draft of the dissertation, but at the latest by the beginning of the semester when the student expects to graduate, a meeting will be scheduled between the student and the members of the dissertation committee. Its purpose is to provide helpful criticism before the final revisions are undertaken, not to approve or disapprove the dissertation. Should a common meeting not be feasible because of the absence of any of the participants from Atlanta, alternative arrangements will be worked out by the director in consultation with the student.

The final version will need to be read and approved by the readers in time to meet a series of deadlines established by the Graduate School. It is necessary to be formally registered during the semester of graduation. The student must file a degree application form in the Graduate School by a specified deadline which falls near the beginning of the semester of graduation. A degree clearance form signed by the members of the committee and the graduate director must be submitted to the Graduate School, along with the original and four copies of the dissertation, by another deadline which falls more than a month before the end of the semester. The Graduate School has established guidelines concerning page layout and style.

IX. Transfer Credit for Students Entering with the M.A. Degree

Students entering with an M.A. degree may, after one semester of satisfactory work and upon vote of the department, receive credit for one year's residence and are promoted to Advanced Standing effective the semester of entrance. Such students will normally take courses for three semesters and take their General Examination in their fourth semester. Such students may also petition the department to have any M.A. thesis they may have written accepted in lieu of one "P" paper.

X. Exceptions

Exceptions to these rules can be made for cause by the Chair in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.

XI. Grievance Policy

Students who have a grievance related to some aspect of their program in the Department of History should report it to the Director of Graduate Studies.  The document should describe the grievance and relevant details in a letter addressed to the DGS, who will try, if possible, to resolve the grievance in conversation with the student and relevant parties. If this is not successful, the Director will appoint a committee of three History faculty members (or faculty members outside the department if the situation warrants) to review the grievance and propose an appropriate response. If it is impossible to resolve the grievance within this committee or within the framework of the Department's administrative structure, the Director will forward the grievance to the Office of the Senior Associate Dean of the Laney Graduate School. From this point forward, the grievance will be handled according to the Grievance Procedure outlined in the Laney Graduate School Handbook. If the issue is with the Director, the student should go directly to the Senior Associate Dean of the Laney Graduate School.