History (Ph.D.)

Admission Requirements

Admission to this program is contingent upon admission to the Graduate School. Earning an advanced graduate degree requires considerable commitment of time and financial resources. The Department of History expects applicants to its graduate program to commence study well-prepared to undertake this rigorous coursework sequence. Accordingly, the application deadline of February 1 is strictly followed.

The Department normally considers only applicants whose prior g.p.a. is at least 3.00 overall and at least 3.25 in a minimum of eighteen semester credits in history and related subjects. While attainment of an M.A. in History is not required of the doctoral applicant, the Graduate Committee will be looking for a strong background in history comparable to those holding the M.A. in the discipline in all doctoral applicants.

Required Admissions Documents

  1. Formal Application
  2. Application fee
  3. All  transcripts  from  all  colleges  and  universities  previously attended
  4. GRE scores from the general exam
  5. A letter of intent that outlines career goals and the area of study the applicant wishes to pursue
  6. A research paper as evidence of writing and research skills
  7. At least three letters of recommendation from former professors

The Department of History coordinates all materials for the doctoral admissions application process. Any items that are not submitted online should be sent directly to the Department's Director of Graduate Studies.


The Doctor of Philosophy degree requires ninety credits beyond the baccalaureate degree. The M.A. in History earned at WSU may count for thirty-five of these; but only thirty credits in post-bachelor's programs may be transferred from another institution. The total ninety credits must include:

  1. HIS 7830, Methods and Research in History, or its equivalent.
  2. A minimum of four 8000-level research seminars, including one advanced readings course in the dissertation field.
  3. A minimum of thirty credits in coursework numbered 7000 or above.
  4. A minimum of forty credits of coursework in History.
  5. Eight credits of coursework in a cognate area chosen by the candidate and their advisor.
  6. Additional coursework for a total of sixty credits.
  7. Thirty credits of dissertation registration fulfilled by the courses HIS 9991, HIS 9992, HIS 9993, and HIS 9994.

Academic Scholarship: All course work must be completed in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Foreign Language Requirement: Upon entering the program, students will be expected to offer a plan for satisfying the language requirement. They will be expected to demonstrate a reading knowledge of two languages (or one language, if specialization is in American history) to the appropriate University language department. With permission of the graduate director, a student may substitute certain specific auxiliary skills, such as statistics or oral history for one language.

Advisor: Upon entering the program, students will also be expected to select, in consultation with the Department’s director of graduate studies, a faculty member who will serve as the student’s advisor, both in general study and with respect to his or her dissertation. In consultation with the advisor, the student will then prepare a Plan of Work listing the courses that will prepare him or her in three fields of history (including a field in which the dissertation will be written), and a related cognate field outside the Department.

Curricula: The Department of History offers doctoral level course work includes geographical-chronological fields and topical fields. Students must choose at least two geographical-chronological fields, one of which must be a geographic-chronological field outside American history.

Geographical-chronological fields

  • ancient (not for dissertation topic)
  • medieval
  • early modern Europe
  • modern Europe
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Russia
  • Africa
  • America to 1877
  • America since 1865

Topical fields

  • African-American
  • constitutional and legal
  • economic
  • gender and women's history
  • immigration/ethnic
  • labor
  • urban history and the history of United States foreign relations
  • archival administration

Admission to Candidacy requires completion of the following requirements:

  1. Filing of an approved Plan of Work with the Graduate School;
  2. Satisfactory completion of written and oral qualifying examinations in two major and one minor history fields. Cognate requirements will be met through satisfactory completion of course work in the cognate.

Dissertation: The dissertation is a work of original historical research and presentation on a topic selected by the student with the approval of the student’s advisor and accepted as successfully completed by both the advisor and a dissertation committee. Upon completion of the dissertation, the student will be required to make a public lecture presentation-defense and to submit the dissertation for certification to the Graduate School.