Ohio University

Ph.D. in History

Program Overview

Students who enter the Ohio University Ph.D. program become part of a diverse and close-knit community, where faculty and students work together in pursuit of academic excellence. It is a program with a distinctive identity—it concentrates on contemporary history. By agreement with the Ohio Board of Regents, students must write their dissertations within the framework of contemporary history, which is defined by chronology as the period since 1918 (or the end of World War I).

Many Ohio University history faculty focus their teaching and research in contemporary history, enabling students to choose from a wide range of related courses. Those courses cover a broad geographic sweep, including Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. They also cover a diverse array of thematic fields, including cultural and intellectual history; women, gender, and social history; international relations and military history; politics and policy history. Faculty who work in earlier chronological periods also offer courses that Ph.D. students may take to satisfy supporting field requirements and to add both depth and breadth to their doctoral studies.

After passing comprehensive exams, Ph.D. students often have a chance to teach a course on their own, an important advantage for those who seek academic employment after completing their degree. Financial support for up to five years of doctoral study is available through teaching assistantships from the History Department and fellowships from the Contemporary History Institute.

Career Opportunities: The Ph.D. program in history prepares students for teaching and research at the university or college level, research positions in government or private organizations, and a variety of other careers.

Adviser & Planning Form

All Ph.D. students should have a faculty adviser, with whom they consult on a regular basis about their program of study. The adviser is a faculty member whose expertise coincides with the student's primary or dissertation field of study. The Ph.D. fields are listed below. Entering students have a provisional adviser. A student's interests may evolve after beginning the Ph.D. program, and it is possible to change advisers. A student who changes his or her adviser should inform the graduate office. Any such change, of course, also involves consultation with the old and new advisers and securing their consent.

In consultation with their adviser, Ph.D. students should complete the Ph.D. planning form and file a copy with the department’s graduate office. Students should update their planning form whenever they make changes in their course of study. A student who completes a planning form in his or her first or second semester often fulfills degree requirements by taking different courses than he or she expected. Such changes occur for many reasons, and it is always difficult, if not impossible, to know which courses will be offered a year or more in advance.

Keep a copy on your computer and email copies to Brenda Nelson, Dr. Assan Sarr, and your faculty adviser. Each time you make a change in your planning form, email the revised version to the same three people. 

However you maintain your planning form, please make sure that the History Department graduate office always has the current version.

Degree Requirements

Ph.D. students must fulfill the requirements of three fields in history as well as a cognate field. The latter can be satisfied by successfully completing the Contemporary History course sequence or by taking courses in another discipline or disciplines that complement their historical studies. For students who have completed an M.A. at another university, some coursework from the previous university may satisfy some course requirements for the Ph.D. Please consult with the director of graduate studies on this matter. All Ph.D. students must take a research seminar, even if they may have had a similar course at another university. For those working in U.S. history, the seminar is usually offered every year; for those in European history, every other year; for those in non-Western history, by arrangement.

Program Requirements

Each student selects an area of concentration—Europe, Latin America, the United States, or the Non-Western World—and then completes related coursework in three examination fields (listed below) plus a cognate field, consisting either of courses in a related discipline or in the Contemporary History Institute. In addition, a one-semester research seminar in the first field and a historiography course are required. Please note that the first field is the dissertation field and consequently must be completed in a field that emphasizes or focuses on contemporary history (on the period since World War I).

Contemporary Dissertation Fields

The following also may be used as a second or third field:

  • U.S. Cultural and Intellectual History
  • U.S. Foreign Relations
  • U.S. Military History
  • U.S. Political History
  • U.S. Social History
  • U.S. Women and Gender
  • Modern Europe: British Empire
  • Modern Europe: Germany
  • Modern Europe: Eastern Europe
  • Modern Europe: Russia
  • Modern Latin America
  • Modern Africa
  • Modern East Asia
  • Modern Middle East
  • Modern Southeast Asia

Other Examination Fields

The following are available as second or third fields only:

  • Antiquity and Medieval Europe
  • Colonial and Revolutionary America
  • Colonial Latin America
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Nineteenth Century U.S.

Language Requirement