PhD Requirements

History PhD Degree Requirements

To earn the PhD, students must have accumulated at least 54 graduate credits, at least 30 of them taken at the post-master’s level. Precise numbers of credits and actual course requirements while in PhD status will be determined after a review of the applicant’s previous course work. Doctoral students may not accumulate more than 6 credits in U/G courses or more than 6 credits in independent study without the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Of the 54 credits, at least 9 must be taken in fields other than History. No more than 18 credits in courses outside of History may be counted toward the doctoral degree.

Required Core Courses

All students must take three methods courses from among the following:

  • Hist 712 – Historiography and Theory of History, 3 credits
  • Hist 713 – Historical Research Methods, 3 credits
  • Hist 716 – Professional and Pedagogical Issues in History, 3 credits
  • Hist 717 – History and the New Media, 3 credits

All students must also take History 990, Dissertation Research (6 credits minimum); and 15 elective credits (which may include additional dissertation credits).

Foreign Language Proficiency

A student must demonstrate proficiency in one or more relevant foreign languages by passing a written examination involving translation or historical analysis. If a student’s major professor considers proficiency in more than one language necessary to the student’s specific plan of study, exams in more than one language may be required. With the approval of the major professor, a student may substitute proficiency in another skill relevant to historical study (such as statistical analysis). In these cases, proficiency will be demonstrated through relevant course work.


A minor is not required, but students can supplement their concentration by selecting one of the following options:

  • Option A: Minor in One Field (8-12 credits in a single department culminating in an examination in the field).
  • Option B: Interdisciplinary Minor (8-12 credits in two or more departments).
  • Option C: Minor in Public History (21 credits, including 6 in internship and 9 in either museum studies, historic preservation, or archives administration).

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

The doctoral preliminary examination includes written and oral components designed to demonstrate the breadth of a student’s knowledge and the ability to conduct advanced historical research. Students who fail the preliminary examination may not proceed to the dissertation. The exam may be retaken only once.


The dissertation is a major piece of original research representing a substantial contribution to historical scholarship. In consultation with the major professor, the student chooses a dissertation committee, which must approve the dissertation prospectus. The student’s major professor provides guidance in preparing the prospectus and in developing and writing the dissertation. The candidate must pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Graduate Grievance Procedures

Federal law and UWM policy require programs and departments to have procedures for graduate students to appeal academic decisions such as grades or scholastic standing. These procedures ensure the protection of students’ rights. These pages serve as a reference on procedures for graduate student academic appeals.