Jul 16, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 

Doctor of Philosophy in History

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The doctoral program in history at NIU is designed to prepare students for the twin vocations of research and teaching. Accordingly, it is awarded only to those who have demonstrated that they have completed rigorous preparation for both of the components of the degree and that through their doctoral dissertation they have made a genuine contribution to scholarship.

The doctorate is offered with course work in a broad range of areas including the history of the United States, East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia, and of Latin America. Each of these areas, in turn, can be explored under a number of different subheadings (including politics, intellectual life, society, economy, culture, gender, and ethnicity) and through a variety of methodologies.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.


Admission to the Ph.D. program is subject to the approval of the departmental Graduate Committee. Applicants must already possess a master’s degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject and will be judged on the basis of their master’s thesis or research paper, their performance in course work at the master’s level, their GRE General Test scores (especially verbal and analytical), and the recommendations of faculty with whom they have worked. The committee always takes into consideration the availability of appropriate faculty in the probable area of the applicant’s dissertation.

Semester-Hour Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. program in history must complete a minimum of 72 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate as part of the degree program. Approved course work from the master’s or equivalent may be counted, but all Ph.D. students must satisfactorily complete an additional 6 semester hours of research beyond those required for the master’s degree. Students will fulfill research requirement by satisfactorily completing two formal research seminars. A maximum of 18 semester hours may be counted for HIST 799, Doctoral Research and Dissertation.

Language/Research-Skills Requirement

To be admitted to candidacy, Ph.D. students must demonstrate average proficiency in two foreign languages or in one foreign language and in quantitative methods, or high proficiency in one foreign language. In some areas, however, the department may find it appropriate to set higher requirements than this minimum. The means for demonstrating proficiency in the use of a foreign language or languages and/or quantitative methods are set by Graduate School policy, but regardless of how the proficiency requirements are met, they should be fulfilled in their entirety no later than the fifth semester after a full-time student has entered the doctoral program.


Qualifying Examination

Students with a master’s degree in history from NIU who enter the Ph.D. program may be required to pass an oral qualifying examination on the recommendation of their master’s comprehensive examination committee. All Ph.D. students with a master’s degree from another university, as well as NIU students who received their master’s degree in a discipline other than history, are ordinarily required to pass an oral qualifying examination before the end of their first semester in the Ph.D. program. However, the qualifying examination requirement may be waived by the director of graduate studies after taking into consideration the student’s previous academic record, his or her performance in the first semester of doctoral work, and the recommendation of his or her adviser.

Candidacy Examination

Ph.D. students must pass written and oral candidacy examinations. The exact character of each field will be determined on an individual basis, but a provisional list of fields and examiners must be submitted to the Graduate Committee for its review no later than the beginning of the student’s second year of full-time Ph.D. study; any subsequent change in examiners or fields must also be reviewed by the committee.

Students may write each of the three field essays whenever they and the field adviser agree that the student is adequately prepared. In addition to the field essays, the student will write a teaching portfolio that includes the design of and supporting materials for a survey-level course in the student’s major field of expertise and an upper-division course. When all three field essays have been completed and the teaching portfolio submitted, there will be an oral examination, which should normally be taken no later than the fifth semester after a full-time student has entered the doctoral program. At the conclusion of the oral examination the examination committee will decide whether the student has passed the candidacy examination as a whole.

A student who fails a Ph.D. candidacy field essay will normally be permitted to revise and resubmit the essay. A second failure will ordinarily be final and result in termination of the student from the Ph.D. program in history. There are a limited number of circumstances in which a student who has failed a field essay twice may substitute a different field. Under no circumstances, however, will any student who has failed two different field essays be allowed to continue in the doctoral program.

Doctoral Dissertation

In order for the department to recommend students to the Graduate School for doctoral candidacy in history they must have completed a minimum of 54 semester hours of graduate course work, including any course work from the master’s degree counted towards the doctoral requirements. These 54 semester hours should also include the required 6 semester hours of doctoral research. In addition, students admitted to candidacy must have passed their candidacy oral examination and fulfilled the language/ research skills requirement. An acceptable dissertation proposal must also be submitted to a three-person dissertation-approval committee no later than the end of the semester following the one in which the oral candidacy examination was successfully completed.

The Department of History cannot guarantee a doctoral student a director and cannot necessarily supply the expertise for any topic a student may choose, even a viable one. Rather, it is the responsibility of the student to find a topic that is workable within the resources available in the department and to demonstrate that he or she has the talents to complete it.

Not more than three years after a doctoral candidate’s dissertation topic has been approved, he or she must present a public colloquium on the dissertation-in-progress. This colloquium will be evaluated by a faculty committee and must be found satisfactory before the candidate may continue his or her progress towards completion of the doctoral degree requirements. Any student who fails to meet this colloquium requirement will be put on written notice of the deficiency and, if after an additional year the requirement remains unmet, admission to the doctoral program will be terminated. Candidates who are terminated because of this provision may petition the departmental Graduate Committee for reinstatement by submitting an acceptable plan for meeting the colloquium requirement.

When a Ph.D. candidate’s dissertation topic and dissertation director have been approved, the candidate and the dissertation director will identify the appropriate faculty to serve on the candidate’s dissertation committee. The oral defense of the dissertation will be scheduled when the dissertation has been substantially approved by the director and at least two other members of the committee. Prior to the defense, the dissertation should have been read in a defensible version by all members of the committee and one copy of this version of the dissertation must have been submitted to the Graduate School. The committee to conduct the defense will consist of four or five voting faculty members and will be chaired by the dissertation director. One member must be from an academic department outside the Department of History.

All doctoral students in history must complete and successfully defend their dissertations within six years of admission to candidacy. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the candidate’s admission to the doctoral program being terminated. Candidates whose admission to the program is terminated for this reason may petition the departmental Graduate Committee for reinstatement by submitting an acceptable plan for completing the dissertation and by identifying an appropriate dissertation committee, which need not be identical to the original committee but which must meet the same conditions.

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