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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

History (HIST)

Program Home Page

MICHAEL KULIKOWSKI, Head of the Department
DAVID ATWILL, Director of Graduate Studies
108 Weaver Building
814-865-1367

 

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.A.
Dual-Title Ph.D. in History and African American and Diaspora Studies
Dual-Title Ph.D. in History and Asian Studies
Dual-Title Ph.D. and M.A. in History and Women's Studies
Integrated B.A. in History/M.A. in History

 

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Program

Graduate instruction at the master's and doctoral degree level is offered in the following areas: United States (19th and 20th century), Europe ( Medieval, Early Modern and Modern), Asia ( Late Imperial and 20th century), and Latin America (Colonial and Modern). Only students focusing their course of study on the department’s four primary areas of strength (Latin America, Early Modern Global, 19th-century United States, and Late Imperial and Republican China) are admitted into the graduate program. Courses in all other areas are offered on a regular basis and encouraged as secondary areas of focus.

Admission Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate Council requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Applicants to the doctoral program must hold or be near completion of the master's degree (or its equivalent); all others will be considered for admission to the master's program, even if it is their ultimate intention to pursue a doctoral degree at Penn State.

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit a completed online Graduate School application and payment of the application fee. In addition, applicants must submit official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended that show (1) substantial course work in history, (2) a minimum GPA of 3.50 (on a 4.0 scale), (3) at least three semesters of college-level work in a foreign language (additional language training appropriate to the fields in which the applicant proposes to work may also be required for admission) and (4) where applicable, a minimum GPA of 3.50 for all graduate work previously undertaken. Each applicant must submit the scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within five years previous to the date of application; the general examination scores are mandatory, the history examination is optional. Successful applicants typically have minimum scores of 160 (or 650 old scoring) on the verbal and quantitative sections, and 5.0 on the analytical writing section of the general examination.

The Department of History further requires all applicants to submit directly to the department a statement of intent outlining their proposed fields of study and career goals, as well as a sample of their written work (undergraduate history thesis, master's thesis, seminar paper or equivalent research paper) as evidence of their historical research and writing skills. Three letters of recommendation are required; it is strongly preferred that at least two of them be from historians.

Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Bachelor/Master’s Degree Admission Requirements

In addition to the admission requirements noted above, admission to the History IUG will be based upon students’ having:

  1. completed at least one 400-level history course in a primary area of interest (with a B grade or higher) and attained a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all courses.
  2. completed at least 60 credits (but no more than 100 credits).
  3. submitted a proposed program plan directly to the Department of History’s Director of Graduate Studies prior to the fall application deadline. The plan should cover the entire time period of the integrated program, and it should be reviewed periodically with an adviser as the student advances through the program.

Students must apply to the program via the Graduate School application for admission, and must meet all the admission requirements of the Graduate School and the History graduate program for the Master of Arts degree. Students shall be admitted to an IUG program no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer or AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree, as specified in the proposed IUG plan of study. Students must be admitted to the program prior to taking the first course they intend to count towards the graduate degree.

Master's Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Candidates for the M.A. degree must earn a minimum of 36 credits of course work that can be counted towards a graduate degree, of which 12 credits will be in the student's primary area and 6 credits in one secondary area. At least 30 credits must be at the 500 level, with no more than 6 credits of HIST 596. The only required course is HIST 500 - Theory, Method and the Practice of History. Course work offered by outside departments may be scheduled as part of the student’s program with approval of the student’s academic committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. In some cases, students may be required to take additional credits in order to make up deficiencies in foreign language skills and/or undergraduate coursework.

Reading proficiency in at least one foreign language must be demonstrated no later than the beginning of the second year of residence.

Students are required to convene two separate, formal meetings with their advisers and master's committees: Committee Formation Meeting and the Master's oral examination. The convening of the student’s master's committee must take place no later than the end of the first year in the master's program. Every student should, in consultation with the permanent adviser, select at least two other members of the Graduate Faculty to serve on their master's committee (for a minimum total of three faculty members). There must be faculty representation of each of the students' two fields (selected from the department's list of officially recognized fields). At this first meeting there should be a discussion and approval of the general program plan (seminars, courses and other requirements)

Students must hold a Master’s oral examination. The examination consists of an oral defense of two research papers written while in the M.A. program in two department- defined fields of study (e.g., 19th century US and Modern Europe). The research papers must be of a length, substance, and quality that the committee deems to be of journal article-caliber. Students must submit the papers to the committee a minimum of two weeks prior to the oral examinations; the papers then must be orally presented and successfully defended before the committee in the M.A. examination. Submission and defense of these two research papers constitutes the culminating experience for the Master of Arts degree.

Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Bachelor/Master’s Degree Requirements

Students must fulfill all requirements for each degree in order to be awarded that degree, subject to the double-counting of credits as outlined below. Degree requirements for the B.A. in History are listed in the Undergraduate Bulletin. Degree requirements for the M.A. degree are listed in the Master’s Degree Requirements section above. Up to 12 credits may be double-counted towards the degree requirements for both the graduate and undergraduate degrees; a minimum of 50% of the double-counted courses must be at the 500 or 800 level. Credits associated with the culminating experience for the graduate degree cannot be double-counted. Courses at the 400 and 500-level that can be double counted include HIST 453, HIST 454, HIST 463, HIST 514, HIST 515, HIST 516, HIST 544, HIST 545, HIST 546, and HIST 580.

History IUG students should compose their master’s committee and convene a committee meeting with all members present in the semester immediately following admission to the IUG (typically the sixth semester). At this first meeting there should be a discussion and approval of the general program plan (seminars, courses, and other requirements).

If students accepted into the IUG program are unable to complete the M.A. degree, they are still eligible to receive their undergraduate degree if all the undergraduate degree requirements have been satisfied.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

CREDIT & COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Candidates for the Ph.D. degree in History must complete at least 27 credits of graduate-level work at the 500-600 level (with no more than one HIST 596 per academic year), of which 12 credits will be in the student's primary area and 6 credits each in two secondary areas. The only required course is HIST 500 - Theory, Method and the Practice of History. The remainder of a student's doctoral program, including foreign language requirements, should be determined in consultation with the doctoral committee. Coursework offered by outside departments may be scheduled as part of the student’s program with approval of the student’s doctoral committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE REQUIRMENTS: Reading proficiency in at least one foreign language must be demonstrated no later than the third semester of residency (not including summer semester).

ENGLISH COMPETENCE: A candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History is required to demonstrate high-level competence in the use of the English language, including reading, writing, and speaking. At the end of the first year of enrollment all students who are non-native speakers of English must submit a portfolio which includes at least two pieces of written work from every seminar.  In addition, the Director of Graduate Studies will solicit evaluations from their adviser(s) and seminar instructors in order to identify any deficiencies.  Students with any identified deficiencies will be directed into appropriate remedial activities.  The deficiencies must be met before the candidacy examination.  Competence must be formally attested by the program before the doctoral comprehensive examination is scheduled. (International students should note that passage of the minimal TOEFL or IELTS requirement does not demonstrate the level of competence expected of a Ph.D. from Penn State.

DOCTORAL COMMITTEE COMPOSITION: By the end of the first year in the doctoral program, every student should, in consultation with the permanent adviser, select at least two other members of the Graduate Faculty to serve on their doctoral committee. Doctoral committees for History Ph.D. candidates must meet all Graduate Council requirements.

Only those faculty who have been approved and designated by the Graduate School as members of the Graduate Faculty in History can serve as representatives of the three primary and secondary fields on any doctoral committee. The list of History Graduate Faculty is available online.

CANDIDACY: The candidacy examination may be taken after the completion of at least 18 credits of acceptable graduate work at Penn State and must be taken within three semesters (excluding summer sessions) of entry into the doctoral program. Following successful passage of the candidacy exam, a program plan will be submitted to the Departments of History and the participating program after consultation with members of the student's doctoral committee.

FORMAL MEETINGS: Students are required to convene two separate, formal meetings with their advisers and doctoral committees for: 1) a discussion and approval of the general program plan (seminars, courses and other requirements) and 2) their Ph.D. comprehensive examinations.

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION DEFENSE: Upon the researching, writing, and completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense). The dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in History and African American and Diaspora Studies

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in History and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to History, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in their home department.

Ph.D. Degree

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in History, listed above. In addition, students pursuing the dual-title Ph.D. in History and African American and Diaspora Studies must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies, listed on the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page.

Candidacy

The candidacy committee must include at least one member of the African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

The dual-title field must be fully integrated into the candidacy exam for the doctoral program. In addition, candidates for the dual-title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in African American and Diaspora Studies which includes a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions taken up by scholars of African American and Diaspora Studies.


Doctoral Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of a History and African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the doctoral committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in African American and Diaspora Studies, the member of the committee representing African American and Diaspora Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exams

The African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student's committee is responsible for developing and administering the African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the student's comprehensive exams. The exam must incorporate written and oral components in African American and Diaspora Studies based on the student’s thematic or regional area of interest and specialization in African American and Diaspora Studies. The African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the exam will include the following components: broad history of the field, contemporary theory and debates, and either sexual and gender politics or a topic related to the student’s specific area of interest.

Dissertation

Ph.D. candidates must complete a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their doctoral committee and reflects their original research and education in both History and African American and Diaspora Studies. In order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree, the dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Dual-Title Ph.D. in History and Asian Studies


Graduate students with research and educational interests in international education may apply to the dual-title Ph.D. in History and Asian Studies. The goal of the dual-title Ph.D. in History and Asian Studies is to enable graduate students from History to acquire the knowledge and skills of their major area of specialization in History while at the same time gaining the perspective of Asian Studies.

In order to prepare graduate students for the competitive job market, this program provides them with a solid disciplinary foundation that will allow them to compete for the best jobs in their field. For such students, the dual-title Ph.D. in History and Asian Studies will add value to their degree and their status as candidates. It will produce excellent historians who are experts in Asian Studies as well. The dual-title degree in History and Asian Studies will build curricular bridges beyond the student’s major field so as to provide a unique training regime for the global scholar.

Additional details of the dual degree program are available on the Asian Studies Bulletin page.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in History and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to History, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Asian Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Asian Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Asian Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in their home department.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The doctoral degree in History and Asian Studies is awarded only to students who are admitted to the History doctoral program and subsequently admitted to the dual-title in Asian Studies. To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in History, listed above. In addition, students pursuing the dual-title Ph.D. in History and Asian Studies must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in Asian Studies, listed on the Asian Studies Bulletin page. The minimum course requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. degree in History and Asian Studies are as follows:

  • HIST 580 (Pre-Modern China) and HIST 581 (Late Imperial and Modern China)
  • ASIA 501 and 502 (the required proseminar sequence in Asian Studies).
  • An additional three credits in an Asia-related course (400-level and above) in Asian Studies or in any department other than History.

Foreign Language Requirements

All-skills proficiency in one Asian language and two years' college study (or equivalent knowledge) of another Asian language, or alternative proficiency appropriate to the student's field.

Candidacy

There will be a single candidacy examination, containing elements of both History and Asian Studies. The candidacy committee must include at least one member of the Asian Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In order to be admitted to doctoral candidacy in the dual-title degree program, students must meet the Ph.D. candidacy requirements specified by the History department. In addition, the student will be required to present a portfolio of work in Asian Studies to their committee. Such a portfolio would minimally include a statement of the student's interdisciplinary research interests and a program plan.

Doctoral Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of a History and Asian Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Asian Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the doctoral committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Asian Studies, the member of the committee representing Asian Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exams

The Asian Studies affiliated faculty member on the student's committee is responsible for ensuring that Asian Studies content constitutes a portion of the student's comprehensive exams. The Asian Studies’ content will focus on the following areas: theory, methodology, transnationalism, and interdisciplinary material related to the student's discipline.

Dissertation

Ph.D. candidates must complete a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their doctoral committee and reflects their original research and education in both History and Asian Studies. In order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree, the dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Dual-Title Graduate Degree in History and Women's Studies


Dual-title degrees in History and Women's Studies foster interdisciplinary scholarly work that is grounded in historical study, research, and teaching. A dual-title program will enhance the intellectual rigor and breadth of graduate work through core courses in feminist theory and methodologies; by exposure to a range of interdisciplinary approaches to scholarship that focuses on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, nation, and citizenship; and by offering students a pedagogical framework that encourages an interdisciplinary approach to teaching.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in History and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to History, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Women’s Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Women's Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Women’s Studies prior to obtaining candidacy in their home department.

M.A. Degree

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the M.A. in History, listed above. In addition, students pursuing the dual-title M.A. in History and Women’s Studies must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title M.A. in Women’s Studies, listed on the Women's Studies Bulletin page.

For the dual-title M.A., a minimum of one member of the master’s committee will be a member of the Graduate Faculty in Women's Studies.

Ph.D. Degree

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in History, listed above. In addition, students pursuing the dual-title Ph.D. in History and Women’s Studies must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, listed on the Women's Studies Bulletin page.

Candidacy

There will be a single candidacy examination, containing elements of both History and Women’s Studies. The candidacy committee must include at least one member of the Women’s Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In order to be admitted to doctoral candidacy in the dual-title degree program, students must meet the Ph.D. candidacy requirements specified by the History department. In addition, the student will be required to present a portfolio of work in Women's Studies to their committee. Such a portfolio would include a statement of the student's interdisciplinary research interests, a program plan, and samples of writing that indicate the student's work in Women's Studies.

Doctoral Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for doctoral committees, the doctoral committee of a History and Women’s Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least two members of the Women’s Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the doctoral committee representing History is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Women’s Studies, one of the members of the doctoral committee representing Women’s Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exams

The Women's Studies affiliated faculty members on the student's doctoral committee are responsible for ensuring that Women's Studies content constitutes a portion of the student's comprehensive exams. The Women Studies' content will focus on the following areas: feminist theory, feminist methodology, global feminism, and feminist studies.

Dissertation

Ph.D. candidates must complete a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their doctoral committee and reflects their original research and education in both History and Women’s Studies. In order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree, the dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Other Relevant Information

The Director of Graduate Studies, who supervises the overall graduate program in history and maintains student records, will assign newly admitted graduate students to advisers on the basis of each student's expressed area of interest. Advisers provide assistance in planning courses of study, guidance in choosing scholarly papers and dissertation topics, direction in conducting research, and career counseling. Students who serve as graduate assistants will be given a variety of experiences as they assist different professors, ranging from paper-grading and administering exams, to preparing and delivering occasional lectures, to conducting review or discussion sections for large lecture courses. Advanced doctoral students may hold lectureships while working on their dissertations; lecturers have complete instructional responsibility for one or two sections of an undergraduate course in their area of specialization.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Student Aid section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin.

In addition to the fellowships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin, the following awards typically have been available to graduate students in this program:

JAMES HAMILTON HARTZELL AND LUCRETIA IRVINE BOYD HARTZELL HISTORY AWARD
A $200 to $300 award made annually to a graduate student in the Department of History whose field of interest is Pennsylvania history.

JAMES LANDING FELLOWSHIP AND THE WARREN HASSLER FELLOWSHIP FOR STUDY IN THE CIVIL WAR
Each fellowship is available each year to doctoral candidates who are working on their dissertations. The award consists of a stipend that earns the successful candidate one semester of release time for research and writing. No tuition waiver is offered.

HILL FELLOWSHIPS FOR STUDY IN HISTORY
Awarded annually by the Department of History to doctoral candidates who are working on their dissertations. The amount of the award varies, but it generally supports one semester free of duties.

EDWIN ERLE SPARKS FELLOWSHIP IN THE HUMANITIES
One fellowship is available each year to doctoral candidates in the Department of History who are working on their dissertations.

MARK AND LUCY MACMILLAN STITZER AWARD
Awarded by the Department of History each year to support graduate student travel for the purpose of research. The number and value of these awards depends on the quality of proposals received, the level of funding required by each meritorious project, and the funds available in the endowment. Preference is given to request for doctoral dissertation research.

THE E-TU ZEN SUN AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING TEACHING BY A GRADUATE ASSISTANT
One award is made each year to recognize excellence in teaching by a History graduate assistant in the conduct of discussion sections, review sessions, or lecture presentations. The value of the award varies depending on funds available, but it is normally about $500.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

 

Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2016

Blue Sheet Item #: 45-04

Review Date: 1/10/17

Faculty linked: 6/20/14

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