The First and Second Years
During the first two years in the doctoral program, students take a combination of seminars, write their year-long research paper, complete their language requirements, select three fields (and a committee of three faculty members) for examination, and begin teaching.
The department offers three kinds of graduate seminars: (1) core, (2) thematic, and (3) professionalization. A wide array of core seminars are structured around the traditional lines of geographic, national, and temporal graduate fields (early Modern Europe, for instance, or Modern Latin America). These courses, which are generally sequenced in a two-year cycle, are designed to help prepare students to take their field exams in the third year. If seminars are not offered in a student’s desired field, she/he may arrange an independent reading with an appropriate faculty member.
An equally broad array of thematic seminars are structured around thematic and cross-disciplinary concerns (colonialism, environmental histories, the history of medicine, for instance) that have produced some of the most cutting-edge and transformative scholarship of the last two generations. They draw students from across various national, geographic, and temporal fields together to explore, in depth, the key texts and concepts associated with some of the most exciting areas of contemporary historical practice.
Any student who wishes to do so may, after consultation with his or her advisor(s), substitute an independent reading course offered by a member of the department or a graduate-level course offered outside of the department for one of the department’s formal seminars (students may take two courses outside the department in their first two years). Students may substitute one intensive or upper-level language course for a seminar in their first semester. After the first semester, upper-level language courses will be taken in addition to the regular program requirements.
After successful completion of the first semester of coursework, students will complete a major research paper over the next two semesters, with a summer in between. This undertaking focuses on the craft of writing and research and allows students to present their work in progress to their peers. The final product should be a substantial, possibly publishable, piece of original research, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 words.
Students build on interests sparked in either the core or thematic seminars, and write a research paper in one of their primary areas of interest. Typically, students identify a topic in one of their second-semester thematic seminars and write an extensive literature review in that course to frame their topic. Students undertake archival research during the summer, traveling to appropriate archives and libraries in the U.S. and/or abroad.
In the third semester, the fall of the second year, all second-year students take the writing workshop. Here the work of crafting the research paper is done, in consultation with faculty advisors, student peers, and the faculty leader of the writing workshop (HIST 2940). In the rare instance in which no thematic seminar permits a student to write an appropriate research paper, the student may petition to take an independent study with their advisor. They must still take the writing workshop, which is required of all graduate students.
In addition to the core and thematic seminars, the department requires students to enroll in a series of courses in which they will develop the skills and practices of the professional historian. This sequence begins in the first semester with the colloquium (HIST 2930), an introduction to the methods and theoretical concerns of the historical profession. In the fourth semester, students enroll in the professionalization seminar (HIST 2950), which explores pedagogy, academic publishing, grant writing, and other career-building practices (e.g., how to construct a c.v., how to prepare a conference paper). This series concludes in the sixth semester with the dissertation prospectus seminar (HIST 2960), discussed below under “Third Year.”
The First Two Summers
Students are required to make progress toward the completion of their degree during the summer months. For all students, this means in their first summer undertaking archival research so they may complete the research paper in the third semester. The department also recognizes that for some students progress will take the form of language training. The second summer will normally be devoted to preparation for field exams, as described below.
Below is what a typical student’s first two years would look like. Any individual student will likely vary from this model—substituting a course from outside the department, for instance, or taking a language course during the semester—but it offers a general idea of the structure of the first two years.
|Year||Fall Semester||Spring Semester||Summer|
|1||Core Seminar||Core or Thematic Seminar||Research|
|Core or Thematic Seminar||Core or Thematic Seminar||Language|
|2||Language (if necessary)||Language (if necessary)|
|Teaching Assistantship||Teaching Assistantship||Exam Prep|
|Core or Thematic Seminar||Core or Thematic Seminar|
|Writing Workshop||Professionalization Seminar|