Graduate College Regulations
The Graduate College sets residence and other general requirements for the Ph.D., and the student must become familiar with all relevant sections of the latest Graduate College Bulletin. Formal application for admission to the program is made through the Office of Admissions and the Graduate College. The following departmental rules supplement, but do not supersede the Graduate College requirements. For application instructions, consult O.U. Admissions.
The student submits an application for admission accompanied with transcripts of all previous academic work to the Graduate College. The Graduate College forwards the application and transcripts to the department of history. The applicant submits directly to the department these additional materials:
- Three letters of reference, preferably from the applicant's professors.
- A statement of purpose explaining why the applicant wishes to pursue the Ph.D., what fields of history interest the applicant, and what the applicant hopes to do with the degree. (250-500 words).
- Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
- A copy of their master's thesis, an essay, term paper, or seminar paper from a history course.
When the application is complete, the graduate studies committee uses the following guidelines in ruling on applications. Students should:
- Earn a competitive score on the verbal and analytical sections on the GRE
- Have a 3.5 or better grade-point average in a 4-point system in all M.A. work
Meeting these requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission depends on the graduate studies committee's evaluation of all the candidate's materials. On rare occasions, students are admitted conditionally with M.A. degrees in fields other than history if they have adequate preparation in history. The graduate studies committee may require students who are admitted conditionally to take 12 hours of course work in history with a GPA of 3.5 before they are considered for regular admission. The courses will be selected by the chair of the graduate studies committee, in consultation with the student.
For instructions about how to apply for a Graduate Assistantship, more information can be found on the Graduate Assistantship page.
The student will consult with the chair of the graduate studies committee and be assigned a major professor during the first semester of study. The major professor will act as the student's advisor and meet with the student every semester. Together the student and the major professor will select an advisory committee composed of faculty members in the fields of study. After the formation of the advisory committee, an advisory committee conference is to be held to prepare a general outline of course requirements in the fields, to discuss the student's program, and to file an advisory report. The student will meet with the members of the advisory committee at the beginning of each academic year to review progress. The purpose of the meetings with the advisory committee members is to give the student direction and guidance in his/her graduate program. The plan of study, drafted at the first advisory meeting, may be amended at later meetings to meet the student's needs as he/she moves through the program. The student may petition to change the committee once it is established, but changes can be made only with the approval of the graduate studies committee.
The department of history believes all students with M.A.s should complete the Ph.D. within four years. The Graduate College sets a maximum time limit for students with M.A.s to pass the general examination within four years of entering the program, and sets a maximum of five years for completing the dissertation after passing the general examination.
The major professor will formally evaluate the student at the end of each spring semester. Other faculty members who teach the student may also prepare formal evaluations of the student, one copy going to the student, one to the major professor, and one to the graduate studies committee.
The advisory committee will administer the student's general examination under the general guidance of the major professor.
The advisory committee will consist of the major professor, one professor from each of the three fields of preparation, and one member from outside the department.
Each student will select three fields of study in the department of history in the following areas: a general area, and thematic field, and a field outside of the major area of emphasis. The course work -- lectures, seminars, or readings -- is to provide the student with intensive work in the chosen fields of study. The general examination, however, is a comprehensive measure of a student's acquaintance with broad areas of study and is not limited to the content of specific courses
These guidelines are to be observed in planning a program:
- The University requires ninety hours of course work for the Ph.D. degree. The ninety hours will include thirty hours credit from M.A. work, at least thirty hours credit of graduate course work (nine of these hours can be outside the department), and the remaining credit hours working toward the dissertation.
- A Ph.D. student must take at least four seminars (for a total of six if they earned the M.A. at the University of Oklahoma). Seminars taken in excess of the two required for the M.A. during the M.A. course work at the University of Oklahoma can be applied to the total of four seminars required for the Ph.D. In United States history, three of the Ph.D. seminars must be from period seminars; two of these seminars must be from the general area field being tested in the preliminary exam, and one of these seminars must be from the U.S. general field not being tested. For example, students in the U.S. history since 1865 general area should take two seminars in post 1865 history, and one from the pre 1877 general area. In addition, students in United States history must take at least one research seminar (requiring the production of a research paper based on primary sources). Students not in United States history must take four seminars. This course work will be determined by the major professor and the advisory committee with the approval of the graduate committee.
- Ph.D. students are required to take at least eight hours of course work in a thematic field of study and are encouraged to enroll in seminars offered in their area of specialization. They must also complete at least six hours of course work in their outside field of study. Each American history graduate student must carrying six or more hours must be enrolled in at least one graduate history seminar each semester until they have taken the required seminars for the Ph.D.. The seminars are chosen in consultation with the major professor and need not be in the student's primary area of study.
- A full-time student will ordinarily take the general examination in his/her third year of study. No Ph.D. candidate may take the qualifying examinations without having successfully completed a directed reading course or a seminar with each member of her or his doctoral committee, except the graduate college's representative.
A student must demonstrate a reading competency in one language other than English. The student's choice of language is subject to the approval of the student's advisory committee. However, a student can be required to demonstrate a reading competency in as many languages as is necessary for research and study as determined by the student's major professor and advisory committee. Students may satisfy the language requirement as follows:
- Complete the special readings courses for graduate students who are not in the modern language department with a grade of "B" or better.
- Pass a reading examination in the approved languages administered through OCCE, and graded by a member of the modern language department.
- If the language or languages offered by a student fall outside the realm of the modern language department, the student's advisory committee, with the approval of the graduate committee, will determine the best method for measuring language proficiency.
All Ph.D. students will be required to prepare three fields. Every student's choice of fields and the composition of the advisory committee is subject to the approval of the student's major professor and the graduate studies committee. Except in unusual circumstances, dissertation fields will be limited to the history of the United States and Europe.
General Area Fields
One of the following fields must be selected for the general area requirement in preparation for the general examination. It is possible to substitute another general area field for non-United States or non-European history with the approval of the graduate committee.
The United States to 1877
The United States since 1865
Early Modern Europe (to 1815)
Latin America to 1810
Latin America from 1810
The thematic field should be defined by the student and the program of study committee in preparation for the general examination. The graduate committee must approve the selection. Examples of thematic fields include the following:
American Indian History
American Environmental History
U.S. Social History
U.S. Intellectual History
U.S. Women's History
England since 1688,
France since 1715
European Intellectual since 1700
Eastern Europe since 1700
Germany since 1800
Modern Russia/Soviet Union
European Women since 1700
Ethnohistory of Latin America
The outside field must be outside of the primary area of study and should reflect a geographical diversity. Students working in U.S. history, for example, should select a field outside of the geographical boundaries of the United States. Outside fields must be approved by the graduate committee. Examples of outside fields include the following:
Africa since 1800
Early Modern Europe
Modern East Asia
Middle East (From the rise of Islam)
United States since 1865
United States to 1877
Latin America since 1810
The general examination consists of two parts:
- a six-hour written examination over each of the three fields
- a two-hour oral examination after the successful completion of the written portion on the three fields.
The general examination cannot be taken until all course work has been completed, including the seminars, historical methods course, and foreign language requirements.
The written examination will be given only once a semester, in October and March, and the three fields must be taken within a three week period. The graduate studies committee will set the date for each examination. The student's major professor will provide information on the details of administering the examination.
Once the student's request has been approved by the graduate studies committee, the student's major professor will ask the advisory committee members to submit questions for the examination and the members of the advisory committee will grade the student's examinations. Students are graded "Pass with Distinction," "Pass," "Marginal" or "Fail."
To take the oral examination the student must have a grade of pass in all three fields or a grade of pass in two fields and a marginal in one field on the written portion of the examination. In the latter case, the student does not have to rewrite the field in which a marginal was received. If the student receives a marginal in two fields, or a grade of failure in any field, on the written portion of the examination the student may not go on to the oral examination. In this case the student will retake the written examination only in those fields graded fail or marginal no later than the following semester. However, if the student receives more than two marginals, or a grade of failure in two or more fields, then the student must retake the written examination in all three fields no later than the following semester. Once the written portion of the general examination has been successfully completed, the student should schedule the oral portion of the general examination as soon as possible.
The student has two semesters to complete both the written and oral portions of the general examination. A student may take the general examination only twice. Failing the written portion constitutes an attempt at the examination. If the student, after failing the written portion on the first attempt but passing on the second attempt, should then fail the oral, the student will not be permitted to take the oral portion a second time.
Within two weeks of the completion of the general examination, the student is to meet with the major professor to discuss the student's performance on both the written and oral portions of the exam.
The doctoral candidate plans and writes a dissertation under the supervision of one member of the faculty, but is also under the general oversight of his dissertation committee. The dissertation committee need not consist of the same members as the student's advisory committee. The dissertation committee is formed as soon as the student passes the general examination. This committee has five faculty members -- one from outside the department -- and the dissertation director serves as chair. The student prepares a prospectus of the dissertation and presents it to the dissertation committee members for comments and approval no later than 60 days following the successful completion of qualifying exams. Each doctoral student's dissertation committee shall meet with the student to review and approve the student's dissertation prospectus and research plan. According to Graduate College regulations, the dissertation must be completed, approved by the major adviser and the dissertation committee, and defended in a public examination within five years of the time the student has completed the general examination.
The doctoral dissertation is the final and most important component of the series of academic experiences which culminate in the awarding of the doctoral degree. Three major functions are fulfilled by the dissertation experience:
- it is a work of original research and scholarship which makes a contribution to existing historical knowledge
- it demonstrates the candidate's mastery of research methods and tools of the special field
- it demonstrates the student's ability to address a significant intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion.
The dissertation committee may accept or reject the dissertation based on these three criteria. If they reject it, the student will be given another opportunity to submit an acceptable dissertation to the committee. The dissertation committee may also accept it, pending required changes and corrections. When the dissertation is completely accepted, and a degree check indicates that the student has completed all course work with acceptable grades, the student may schedule the final oral examination. The final oral examination is a defense of the dissertation and is open to the public. The candidate may apply for the examination after presenting a reading copy of the dissertation, showing preliminary approval of the dissertation director, and showing receipts indicating that all fees have been paid. The final examination must be taken during the semester it is authorized to be given. The student and at least four members of the doctoral committee, including the outside member and major professor, must be present in person to conduct the examination. The graduate dean may exercise the prerogative to appoint an outside member to serve as an evaluator for the Graduate College. The evaluator may be one of the required five members of the doctoral committee or may serve only at the time of the examination. Any changes in membership of the doctoral committee requires the approval of the original committee, the new committee members, the graduate liaison (chair of the graduate studies committee), and the graduate dean. Changes must be approved at least thirty days prior to the final examination. The History Department follows Graduate College regulations regarding potential dates for Fall and Spring dissertation defense; however, the department does not allow dissertation defense between the Graduate College's final date for Spring defense and the first day of classes for the following Fall semester.
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