The William P. Clements Department of History at Southern Methodist University offers an innovative Ph.D. program. The course of study explores the human historical experience in American, global, and comparative perspectives, with individualized specializations in transnational themes, such as borderlands, nationalism, democracy, gender, and capitalism. The department emphasizes advanced work on the southwestern United States, the West, Native Americans, ethnic Mexicans, U.S. presidents, and colonial history. Students may also pursue other individualized specializations in coherent global fields of study, approved by the Graduate Committee and mentored by appropriate faculty.
The History Department awards fellowships to most 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 $23,000 stipend for the academic year. In addition, the department offers resources for travel to professional conferences and research archives.
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, they 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, 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.
The individual student’s program is built either around American history or global history. If the student concentrates in American history, global history becomes the minor. If the student concentrates in global history, American history becomes the minor. The specialization is defined around a common transnational theme, such as frontier, feminism, or religion.
Ph.D. students who wish to be granted the M.A. in History must satisfy all of the requirements for the nonthesis M.A. option.
Core Courses (9 Credit Hours)
Students take three core courses: HIST 6300 - Historiography which introduces students to the professional study of history; HIST 6306 - Introduction to Digital Humanities, which provides a theoretical and practical introduction to on-line texts, especially in history; and HIST 6395 - History as an Academic Profession, which helps students to develop the skills needed to make the transition from graduate student to practicing, professional historian.
American History (12 Credit Hours)
The field in American history offers broad preparation. During the first two years, students take a sequence of three to 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. With the adviser’s consent, a student may substitute another 6000-level U.S. history course for one of the four colloquia.
Global and Comparative History (12 Credit Hours)
The field in global and comparative history introduces students to the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have guided advanced research in world history in recent decades. Students take four courses, usually beginning with a colloquium, HIST 6315 - Global/Comparative History, which explores influential methodologies and theoretical perspectives of the field. Additionally, students take three courses that treat, in comparative contexts, such themes and topics as urbanization, migration, industrialization, revolution, colonialism, postcolonialism, slavery, and gender.
Specialization (12 Credit Hours)
While the department maintains strong specializations on the U.S. Southwest, borderlands, ethnic Mexicans, and Native Americans, students may instead opt to develop an individualized specialization of four courses in a coherent field, in or beyond the United States, 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 graduate adviser.
The courses taken in the specialized and global fields may vary in both content and method; these may be graduate courses, graduate 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. The field can thus provide broad interdisciplinary views of particular topics of global significance.
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. Naturally, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute especially addresses the needs of such students.
Ph.D. Research Paper Requirement
Students 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.
An oral examination on four fields of concentration will be taken in the spring term of the third year of study.
Learning to be an effective instructor is a vital part of the Ph.D. program. All students are required to fulfill a teaching preparation requirement, which can be met through one of the two options described in the History Department Graduate Guidelines. Both options provide students with the opportunity to cultivate a range of pedagogical skills and to receive feedback and mentoring regarding their development as a teacher.
Students fulfill this requirement during the fourth or fifth year of graduate study. Teaching assignments will be coordinated by the director of graduate studies. Students engaged in teaching preparation should register for HIST 7000/HIST 7101 and will be compensated for their work.
Dissertation (3 Credit Hours)
While students complete their dissertation, they enroll in HIST 8398 - Dissertation: Ph.D. Candidates. Upon completion of the dissertation, a formal defense is conducted before an examination committee of four faculty members.