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History, Joint Ph.D.

Minimum Totals for Graduation: 72 hours

This degree normally requires a minimum of four years. Its designation as a degree in transnational or comparative history entails a required year of international study at one of several universities with which the Department of History maintains formal partnerships for graduate study, required coursework in transnational and comparative history, and a dissertation that incorporates transnational or comparative methods.

The program has two phases. In the first phase (36 semester hours) students complete all requirements for the Joint MA; in the second (36 semester hours) they complete requirements for the Ph.D., including comprehensive examinations, foreign language competency, and the doctoral dissertation.

Students who join the program with prior graduate coursework in history are eligible to transfer certain credits and requirements toward the Joint M.A. phase of the program. Students who have previously earned the Joint M.A. as part of an exchange agreement between the Department of History and one of its partner institutions are eligible to enter the program’s second phase directly upon admission.

Admission Requirements, Retention & Termination Standards

Admission Requirement Snapshot

GPA: 3.3

Application Deadline: Jan. 3 (Fall)

See Admission Requirement Details Below

Admission to doctoral study requires the following:

  1. Successful applicants will ordinarily have completed a bachelor's degree or equivalent with at least 20 hours of history or related courses with a GPA of 3.3 or higher.
  2. TOEFL scores are required for students for whom English is a second or third language.
  3. Candidates are strongly urged to gain proficiency in at least one language other than English relevant to their intended field of study before applying for the Joint Ph.D. Demonstrated proficiency in field and research languages will be considered during the evaluation of applications.
  4. Other requirements for graduate study include:
    1. Statement of Purpose: In your statement (500-1,000 words) include a description of your academic background and preparation including any language preparation; identify the area or areas of history you want to study; outline your career goals; indicate why you are drawn to a program in transnational and comparative history; and, finally, identify which partner institution would be most appropriate for your year abroad and why.
    2. Three letters of recommendation.
    3. Completion of the History Department's application form for the Ph.D., available on the department's website.
  5. The application deadline for all materials submitted by the candidate is January 3, for admission to the program in the fall of the same year. See the department website and application form for further details and instructions for submission.

Doctoral Candidacy:

Students achieve doctoral candidacy upon successful completion of the requirements listed below. See Degree Requirements for detailed expectations.

  1. All degree requirements for the Joint M.A.
  2. All language requirements.
  3. Oral and written comprehensive examinations in multiple fields of History.
  4. Approval of dissertation prospectus by the Department of History and Graduate Student Services.

Retention Expectations and Requirements:

Students are expected to meet the following requirements to continue in the program. Exceptional cases will be reviewed by the Department of History.

  1. Students must maintain at least a 3.5 GPA (or its equivalent at foreign institutions).
  2. All requirements for the Joint M.A. must be completed by the beginning of the third year. Incomplete grades will not be accepted for credit toward these requirements.
  3. Students should plan to achieve doctoral candidacy as early as possible during or before the third year, and must achieve doctoral candidacy by the end of the third year.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 72 hours of post-BA coursework in history or cognate fields is required for this degree.

Part I: Joint MA Requirements (36 hours)

With the exception of students who have already earned a Joint MA in history from CMU, all students are automatically enrolled in the Joint MA upon matriculation in the Joint Ph.D. and must complete all degree requirements for the Joint MA during their first two years in the program. This means that:

  1. The degree requirements for the first two years in the Joint Ph.D. are identical to the requirements for the Joint MA.
  2. Joint Ph.D. students are eligible to receive the Joint MA after completing these requirements, enroute to completing their doctoral degree.

See Joint MA degree requirements for details.

Part II: Doctoral Requirements (36 hours)

Doctoral Courses and Credits

In addition to completing all requirements for the Joint MA, students must complete a minimum of 36 hours of additional coursework in support of required examinations and the doctoral dissertation. Since previous preparation for examinations and the dissertation will vary substantially from student to student, students and advisors will select coursework from a combination of the following courses and categories, subject to stated minimum and/or maximum hours and the overall minimum of 36 hours.

HST 799Dissertation/Thesis Writing Workshop


HST 890Doctoral Readings


HST 898Dissertation


HST 799: 2-4 hours while writing dissertation.

HST 890: Up to 9 hours in preparation for comprehensive examinations.

HST 898: 12-36 hours for dissertation preparation, research, and writing.

Other Comprehensive Examination electives. Up to 9 hours of relevant graduate history colloquia or other courses in addition to or instead of HST 890, in preparation for comprehensive examinations.

Research language electives. Up to 9 hours (equivalent) of intensive language coursework, if demonstrably required for dissertation research. Credit may be applied to the student's record in lieu of up to 9 hours of elective dissertation credit (HST 898).

Comprehensive Examinations

All students must pass oral and written examinations in multiple fields of history by the end of their third year in the program. Students ordinarily take these examinations after the Partner Year but may take them at any time before the end of the third year, subject to the approval of their advisor and examiners. With the exception of the Atlantic World, which is equivalent to two major fields, students must present either (a) two major fields or (b) one major field and two minor fields.

Major Fields

  • United States
  • Modern Europe
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Comparative Indigenous History (Because of its scope, only one minor is required.)
  • The Atlantic World: Comparative North American, European, African, and Latin American History (Because of its scope, only one minor is required.)

Minor Fields

  • United States*
  • Modern Europe*
  • Early Modern Europe*
  • Latin America*
  • Ancient Mediterranean*
  • Medieval Europe
  • East Asia
  • Africa
  • Topical Fields (must be transnational or comparative): e.g. Indigenous History; Colonialism; Crime; Poverty and Social Welfare; Business; Women; Slavery; Ethnicity and Race; Minority Communities and Culture; Reform; Regionalism

*Not available for minor if chosen as major.

Language Requirements

Candidates for the Ph.D. in history must demonstrate either (a) reading knowledge of two languages other than English or (b) reading knowledge of one language other than English plus an appropriate research tool such as statistics. There are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. Students whose only major field is United States history need to demonstrate reading knowledge of only one language other than English.
  2. Students for whom English is not their first language need to demonstrate reading knowledge of one language other than English or an appropriate research tool such as statistics.

Completion of the language requirement is defined as reading proficiency at least at a level sufficient to conduct graduate-level research.

Completion of the language requirement may be fulfilled in one of the following ways:

  1. A translation-based examination administered by the department of history.
  2. Completion of the research tool requirement may be fulfilled by receiving a passing grade (B or better) in STA 282QR or PSC 680. Students wishing to meet the research tool requirement by enrolling in a different course may do so as long as that course has been approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.
  3. An alternative approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Dissertation Standards and Policies

The Ph.D. from CMU requires completion of a doctoral dissertation that makes significant contribution to knowledge, contains a significant transnational or comparative element, and is successfully defended at a formal meeting of the student's examining committee. Upon admission to candidacy, the student and the chair of the history department of the university where the student is currently in residence will select a committee of two faculty members, at least one from each university, to advise the candidate and supervise the research and writing of the dissertation. Dissertations grounded in two or more national histories will be encouraged. The examining committee for the dissertation will consist of two faculty members from the university where the majority of research has been done, at least one faculty member from the other university, and at least one external examiner. The chair of the examining committee will serve as director of the candidate's dissertation and will be responsible for making all arrangements for meetings of the committee.

The Ph.D. will be awarded to Joint MA/Ph.D. students by Central Michigan University upon successful completion of the shared program. In some cases, it may be possible to receive a second Ph.D. through the partner institution. Regulations governing residency requirements and time limitations for completion of degrees will be those of the university granting the degrees. Student work at either university will be treated as work in residence by both the partner institution and Central Michigan University.

Previous Degrees and Transfer Credits

Students with a Joint MA from CMU

Students who have completed the Joint MA as part of an exchange agreement between the Department of History and a partner institution must apply in the usual way for admission to the Joint Ph.D.; these applications will be evaluated using the same criteria as other applicants. If admitted to the Joint Ph.D. program, however, students who already have a Joint MA need only complete degree requirements for the doctoral phase of the program (see Degree Requirements, Part II: Doctoral Requirement).

All Other Students

All other students admitted to the Joint Ph.D. program may transfer up to 18 hours of graduate coursework toward the Joint MA phase of the degree. See the Joint MA for details on transfer policies.

Total: Part I (36 hours) + Part II (36 hours): 72 semester hours