May 20, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

History, Ph.D.

The History Department will award fellowships to all students accepted into the Ph.D. program. Funding is guaranteed for a period of five years for those whose work remains excellent. Fellowships include tuition, fees, health insurance and a $20,000 stipend for the academic year. In addition, the Clements Department of History has resources available for travel to professional conferences and to research archives.

Admission Requirements

All applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy in history must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (students from abroad must hold the equivalent degree), with a minimum grade point average of 3.000, and have completed at least 12 advanced credit hours in history. Applicants must submit test scores for the GRE graduate school admission exam. If English is not the applicant’s native language, he or she must also take the TOEFL English language proficiency test and score 80 or higher. Students must submit a statement of purpose, an example of their written work and official transcripts. Three letters of recommendation are also required. In addition, applicants should possess a foundation in a language for research, usually Spanish, sufficient to enable them to pass an examination in translation to English in September of the first year of study. Prospective students must submit their applications and all supporting documents by December 15.

Degree Requirements

Historiography (3 Credit Hours)

In the first term, students will take HIST 6300 , a historiography course that introduces them to the professional study of history. Readings vary from year to year, but cover a broad range of methodologies, perspectives and topics. The course also addresses historical writing, research techniques and historical sources.

American History (12 Credit Hours)

The major field in American history offers broad preparation. During the first two years, students take a sequence of four colloquia (12 credit hours) in which they read intensively in American history from the era of Indian-European contact to the present. The intention is that they should master the historiography of the field. These colloquia emphasize new problems, interpretations and debates vital to the study of American history.

Regional, Ethnic, or Other Specialization (18 Credit Hours)

While the department maintains strong specializations in the Southwest, the West, Mexico, Borderlands, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans, students may instead opt to develop an individualized specialization of 18 credit hours in a coherent field of study in American history approved by the Graduate Committee. Students may also wish to enrich their historical understandings by taking courses in other disciplines, such as anthropology, literature or religious studies. The courses should be chosen in consultation with the adviser.

The program offers unusual opportunities for students to broaden and deepen their knowledge. Resources include the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, with its symposia, research fellows and distinguished visitors; SMU’s DeGolyer Library, a repository for a remarkable collection of books and manuscripts on Mexico and the Southwest; and the Meadows Museum of Art, which houses perhaps the world’s finest collections of early modern Spanish art outside of Spain. For students with more interdisciplinary interests, the Bridwell Library provides a wealth of primary sources for the study of religious history; the Underwood Law Library supports the study of legal history, including that of international law; and the Center for Presidential History allows for research in the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States.

Global and Comparative History (12 Credit Hours)

The third field, in global and comparative history (12 credit hours), places the American experience in larger contexts by introducing students to the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have guided advanced research in world history in recent decades. The field also provides broad interdisciplinary views of particular topics of global significance. Students begin this field of study by taking a colloquium (three credit hours) that explores influential methodologies and theoretical perspectives in global and comparative history. After this colloquium students take three courses (nine credit hours) that treat, in comparative contexts, such themes and topics as urbanization, migration, industrialization, revolution, colonialism, postcolonialism, slavery, and gender roles.

The courses taken in the specialized and global fields may vary in both content and method; these may be graduate courses, graduate/undergraduate senior level reading seminars, and also individual directed readings. If individual interests and requirements justify doing so, a limited number of these courses may be taken in another department.

Ph.D. Research Paper Requirement

Students will write two substantial research papers during the first two years of study. The goal is to produce significant work based on primary sources and of a quality comparable to an article in a scholarly journal.

Qualifying Examination

An oral examination on three fields of concentration will be taken in the spring term of the third year of study.

Teaching Practicum


In HIST 7000 , a study of methods and content in the teaching of history is coupled with classroom teaching experience.

Dissertation (3 Credit Hours)

Upon completion of the dissertation, a formal defense is conducted before an examination committee of four faculty members.

Teacher Preparation

Learning to be an effective instructor is a vital part of the Ph.D. program. The centerpiece of teacher preparation, to occur in the fourth year, is a mentoring program tailored to the interests and needs of each student. In HIST 7000 , students will work closely with a professor in the planning and teaching of an individual course. They will also meet with the professor to discuss topics related to teaching and participate in the teaching assistant seminar offered by SMU’s Center for Teaching Excellence. Finally, students themselves will teach a course at SMU or a cooperating institution.

Total: 48 Credit Hours