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Graduate Studies in History

Ph.D. in History

Requirements: The Doctor of Philosophy degree in History requires a minimum of 62 credit hours beyond the Master of Arts degree. This breaks down as follows:

            • 38 credit hours of coursework, of which at least 24 hours should be in the major field (encompassing both secondary and topical areas of study) and at least 10 in the minor field;

            • 24 hours of dissertation (HIST 8960)

Doctoral students must complete a minimum of four seminars (HIST 8930); HIST 8600 (Historiography); and HIST 6950/8950 (Workshop on Methods and Profession of History). If you completed your Master’s degree at the University of Toledo, the following count toward fulfillment of these requirements:

             • HIST 6600
             • HIST 6950
             • One seminar (HIST 6930)

Language competency: All doctoral students must demonstrate language competency, preferably by the end of their first year of study. See the options described below.

Residence requirements:   Doctoral students satisfy the doctoral residency requirement by completing a total of 18 hours of coursework taken over 3 consecutive semesters. Enrollment in a summer term is not required to maintain continuity, but credits earned during summer terms could count toward the 18 hours required for residency. Each graduate program may exclude certain courses and credit hours from meeting the residency requirement.

You have been accepted into the program; what happens now?

1. Refer to the General Information for Graduate Students.

2. Students accepted to the doctoral program should consult with their advisor, preferably during the summer, to work out a plan of study for the first term.

3. In your first semester, you are required to take HIST 8600 (Historiography) unless you have met this requirement in your UT Master’s program. In your second semester, you are required to take HIST 8950 (Methods Workshop).

4. You must take three seminars (HIST 8930) in addition to HIST 8600.

5. You may earn credit hours by taking Independent Studies (HIST 8990). These are programs of study arranged on specific topics with specific professors. To register, obtain the proper form from the Department of History office It must be signed by the professor with whom you take the Independent Study.

6. Other graduate credit hours can be earned through 5000-level classes. These are 4000-level classes that you attend, but your workload is increased in order to bring you to graduate-level study. The additional load is assigned by the professor.

7. You may not take dissertation credits (HIST 8960) until you have completed your comprehensive exams. Thesis credits will appear as PR grades until you have finished and defended your thesis.

Choosing Your Fields of Study

Major Field: Your major field consists of a general area of study and a secondary concentration, which may be combined with a topical focus.

General Areas:

United States History
European History (early modern or modern)
Latin American History (colonial or post-colonial)
East Asian History (pre-modern or modern)
Ancient History

Secondary Concentration:
This is chosen in consultation with your advisor and primarily reflects the chronological or geographic research interests of the faculty. Examples in U.S. History include Colonial/Revolutionary; American West; Gilded Age and Progressive Era; Post-1945 Modern.

The Topical Focus carries the concentration one step further but also allows you to integrate the expertise of other members of the department. Examples include Atlantic World, Public History, Radicalism, Gender, Labor, Religion, and so on. The topical focus is not formalized in a separate examination, but it can provide a kind of plumb line for your coursework, your research, and your preparation for exams.

Minor Field: The minor field should be one of the General Areas outside the student’s major field. The student should consult with an advisor in the minor field, with the concurrence of his/her primary advisor, on narrowing the focus of the minor field.

The following applies to full-time doctoral students. Part-time students should work
closely with their advisors to establish a feasible timeline, keeping in mind
the seven-year limit on doctoral programs. 

Moving Toward Examinations

• Begin developing your bibliography in fall term of second year.
• Plan to take the comprehensive exam in spring/summer of second year.
• Complete secondary and minor field exams during the fall term of third year.
• If all exams–general, secondary, and minor–are not completed by the end of third year (including summer), the Graduate Committee may determine that the student is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree and may suspend funding.  


Before taking the comprehensive exams:

• students must complete the foreign language requirement (see below)
• all PR grades must be cleared
• all program requirements must be completed


Language competency is measured by either (1) successful completion of the Foreign Language Examination administered by the Department of Foreign Languages, through the College of Graduate Studies; or (2) successful completion of a Reading Knowledge course offered by the Department of Foreign Languages. 

Your advisor must approve the language in which you demonstrate competency. If, for example, you have a background in Latin but your research requires a reading knowledge of Spanish, your advisor may require that you demonstrate competency in Spanish–which may involve additional study. 

Option 1. Foreign Language Examination

1. In the fall and spring semesters, examinations are given during the ninth week of classes, Monday through Friday, in the Test Center of the Field House. In the summer session, examinations are given during the fourth week of classes. Testing is reserved on a space-available basis, and students should call the Test Center well in advance of the examination date to set their testing time.

2. Your first step is to select, in consultation with your adviser, the materials on which they will be tested. Contact the Department of Foreign Languages, and determine the person to whom you should submit the materials for approval. Faculty members will approve the material and select at least 40 pages of text to be studied by the candidate. It usually takes three to four days to secure approval of the examination material.   Please avoid works of fiction and similar works commonly translated into English.

3. At least two weeks (but preferably earlier) before the week of the examination (no later than the seventh week of classes, or the second week of summer classes), you should complete an Application Form for the Foreign Language Examination on the Graduate College website. Take the completed form to the College of Graduate Studies for signature, and then submit the signed copy to the Foreign Languages Department. This must done at least two weeks before the week of the examination.

4. Each examination consists of a written translation of 600 to 900 words (from the 40 pages of approved text) to be completed within a three-hour period. Students must reveal in their translations an ability to read the foreign language accurately and to express themselves in correct English. Demonstration of proper language structure is more important than an incoherent running of otherwise correct vocabulary. The use of a dictionary (to be supplied by the candidate) will be permitted.

5. The Foreign Language Examination is not graded on a traditional letter basis. It is simply marked pass or fail. Approximately one week after the examination is taken, the Department of Foreign Languages will notify the College of Graduate Studies and the candidate’s advisor of the results of the examination. Students who fail may repeat the Foreign Language Examination in a subsequent semester, but not more than a total of three times in a single language. The student must submit a different text for approval if repeating the examination.

6. No fee is charged for the examination.

Option 2.   Successful completion, with a grade of B or better, of a Reading Knowledge course (5210, offered in French, German, and Latin).

Reading Knowledge courses, numbered 5210, are offered by the Department of Foreign Languages for non-language majors. The successful completion of the 5210 course, with a grade of B or better, fulfills the foreign language requirement for the Department of History doctoral program, exempting you from the Foreign Language Examination


General Field (Comprehensive Exam):

Candidates in U.S. history will be tested over the entire general field, while those students in other areas will be tested over one of the designated sub-fields.    

At the beginning of the second year, the student, with the assistance of her/his advisor, will form an examination committee, consisting of two members of the graduate faculty and the advisor. By the end of the fall, the student should have a bibliography, assembled with input from the committee members, on which the exams will be based.   During this period, the student may list HIST 8990 as Prep for Exam.

 N.B.: A bibliography for the comprehensive exam in U.S. history could include over 100 titles.

The General Field comprehensive examination consists of two parts, written and oral. Part One, the written exam, is taken over a two-day period and offers a range of questions covering the entire general field. Generally the advisor solicits possible questions from the examination committee and then assembles the final list.  

The advisor will notify the director of graduate studies in writing when the comprehensive exams have been scheduled.   Both written and oral parts of the exam must be completed in a two-week period. Committee members will read all exam essays and grade them individually. The committee should make every effort to complete its assessment within seven days after receiving the exams. The advisor will compile the individual grades and determine a final grade of Pass or Fail.

Grading scale:

A          (4.00)   excellent
A-         (3.67)   very good
B+        (3.33)   good
B          (3.00)   satisfactory
B-         (2.67)   lowest passing grade

After passing the written exams, the student will sit for an oral examination before the committee. At the conclusion of the two-hour exam, the committee concurs on a grade of Pass or Fail. 

Secondary Concentration/Topical Focus Exam:

The secondary concentration is the research area in which the student will write the dissertation and in which the student has taken course and seminar work. The one-day exam is taken after the student passes the General Field comprehensive exam–within a semester of completing the general exam, excluding summer. The exam is usually administered by the student's individual advisor and those faculty members with special competency in the area.

Minor Field Exam:

The minor field advisor will consult with the student’s primary advisor concerning the format of the minor field exam, taken within a semester of completing the General Exam, excluding summer. Once the format and the scheduling of the exam has been set, the minor field advisor will inform the director of graduate studies in writing.

Students must complete all candidacy exams by the end of the third year (including summer) of full-time work on the Ph.D. degree. Failure to meet this requirement may result in the loss of any graduate assistantship held by the student

Retaking the Exam:

A student who fails the general field, the secondary concentration, or the outside minor field may retake the respective exam with the permission of the examining committee and the department graduate committee. A second failure will result in the student's dismissal from the program. Dismissal will result in the forfeiture of any graduate assistantship that a student holds with the history department.

Students who fail the examinations and are dismissed from the program can petition the history department for the awarding of a terminal Master of Arts degree in history.

ABD and Beyond

Students who pass all examinations and have met the language competency requirement will be officially admitted as candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Cand. Phil.; commonly known as “ABD”). Students may not enroll in HIST 8960 (dissertation hours) until they have passed all exams.

At that point, the faculty advisor becomes the student’s dissertation director and oversees the selection of the dissertation committee. If the student’s research interests change substantially after acceptance into the program, it may be appropriate for another member of the faculty to assume direction of the dissertation. This should be decided in consultation with the director of graduate studies and should occur at the time of the comprehensive exams.

Dissertation Prospectus:  Within the semester after all examinations, the student should complete a dissertation prospectus.  When the dissertation director determines the prospectus is ready for review, the graduate committee, consisting of graduate faculty, will read and comment on the prospectus, preferably within two weeks after receipt.

Reminder: The doctoral degree must be completed within a period of seven calendar years from the time the student was first admitted to the College of Graduate Studies as a doctoral student.

The Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation consists of a book-length piece of original scholarship. It is the heart of the Ph.D. degree. It should advance a clear and cogent thesis, be rooted in the historiography, and draw upon an appropriate array of primary and secondary sources that are fully documented according to academic standards. The length of the dissertation is normally between 200 and 400 pages.  

The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) is the departmental guide for theses, dissertations, and other formal papers prepared in the department. In addition, students must carefully follow the College of Graduate Studies's Handbook for Preparation of Graduate Dissertations, Projects, and Theses, which has detailed guidelines on formatting.

Dissertation Committee:

In consultation with her/his dissertation advisor, the student should choose a dissertation committee. The committee will consist of at least three additional readers, one of whom must be outside the University of Toledo's history department. As research progresses on the dissertation, the student is encouraged to seek the involvement of committee members.

In the semester in which you intend to graduate:

• Complete all academic program forms on the College of Graduate Studies website. See appendix for a checklist. It is your responsibility to ensure that all forms are completed before the deadlines.
• Register for a minimum of one graduate credit hour.
• Official undergraduate and Master’s transcripts must be on file in the College of Graduate Studies.
• Make sure that you have on file an up-to-date Plan of Study.
• All IN and PR grades (except HIST 8960) must be removed from your transcript.
• File a Doctoral Dissertation List form with the American Historical Association.


Develop a timetable for submission of the dissertation to your committee, allowing for additional time for committee review. Once your dissertation director confirms the general framework of the timetable, contact your committee to confirm the sequence of deadlines and the date of the oral defense and adjust the timetable as needed. 

Well before the oral defense, plan to take your dissertation to the appropriate person at the College of Graduate Studies and have your formatting reviewed (see ETD Format Review Request Form on the College of Graduate Studies website). The College of Graduate Studies has its own formatting guidelines for electronic submission. Do not let this slide, or you may find that a formatting glitch delays your degree.

After the oral defense, the dissertation is graded according to the grade scale below. At that time, all dissertation credit hours (HIST 8960, which are graded as PR) will revert to the grade assigned to the dissertation. 

A          (4.00)   excellent
A-         (3.67)   very good
B+        (3.33)   good
B          (3.00)   satisfactory
B-         (2.67)   lowest passing grade

Although submission is now electronic, you still must file an Approval of Dissertation form, which your committee signs after you pass your oral defense.   Students should also submit a written copy of their theses to the Department of History.

For further doctoral program information, contact Dr. Roberto Padilla, Director of Graduate Studies, at the address or email below.

Dr. Roberto Padilla
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of History
MS 503
University of Toledo

Toledo, OH 43606

Phone:  419-530-4538
Email:  roberto.padillaii@gmail.com

Last Updated: 10/4/18