History Department

Graduate Studies in History

Ph.D. in History


Note: 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.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in History requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the Master of Arts degree. This breaks down as follows:

Required Classes and Coursework

  • HIST 8600: Historiography 
  • HIST 8950/8950: Workshop on Methods and Profession of History
  • 4 seminars courses (HIST 8930)
  • An additional 18 credits in graduate history courses at the 7000-level or above is also required to complete the degree.
  • 24 hours of dissertation credits (HIST 8960)

A minimum of 24 credits should be in the major field/secondary concentration. A minimum of 10 credits should be in the minor field.

If you completed your Master’s degree at the University of Toledo, the following count toward fulfillment of these requirements: HIST 6600, HIST 6950, 1 seminar (HIST 6930)

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.

In your first year, you are required to take HIST 8600 (Historiography) and HIST8950 unless you have met this requirement in your UT Master’s program.

You may not take dissertation credits (HIST 8960) until you have completed your comprehensive exams. Thesis credits will be graded each semester.

Language Competency

All doctoral students must demonstrate language competency, preferably by the end of their first year of study.

Residency 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.

Comprehensive Examinations for the Doctoral Degree


A) Major Field
Your major field consists of a general area of study and a secondary concentration. These are tested in two separate exams, the format and schedule of which will be determined in consultation with your advisor.

General Areas

    • United States History
    • Latin American History
    • East Asian History
    • African History

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

B) 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 their primary advisor, on narrowing the focus of the minor field.


Before taking the comprehensive exam

  • Students must complete the foreign language requirement (see below).
  • All PR grades must be cleared
  • Coursework should be completed; however, exams may be taken before all coursework is finished with approval of advisor and a majority of the graduate faculty.
  • Remember: no dissertation credits may be taken until ALL exams are completed.

Major Field (Comprehensive Exam)

Candidates in U.S. history will be tested over the entire major 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 their 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.

The major field examination consists of two parts, written and oral. The format of the exams are determined by the student’s advisor.

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 will 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.

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 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. This exam is taken in conjunction with the major field exam. 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. 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.

NOTE: 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.

Advancing to candidacy: ABD (“All but dissertation”) 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.

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' 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.

Develop a timetable for submission of the dissertation to your committee, and allow 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.

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 dissertations to the Department of History.

**NOTE: This web page is only a streamlined version of the information about our program and does not contain all of the details regarding program requirements. Current graduate students should consult the current University Course Catalog for full information regarding this program and be in regular contact with the UToledo History Department’s Director of Graduate students, Dr. Kristen Geaman.

Last Updated: 6/27/22