History Program

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in History

Course Requirements

Course and dissertation research unit registration must equal 72 units total. The student must complete with grades of B or better at least 48 units of work in history courses taught by the graduate faculty of The Claremont Colleges, including HIST 300 and Tutorial Reading courses but excluding research courses in the 400 range. If a student has completed graduate work in history at another institution, transfer credit for up to 24 units may be permitted. For requirements in American studies or European studies, see the appropriate sections below.

Transdisciplinary Course Requirement

All students who enter the doctoral program after the fall 2004 semester are required to complete the transdisciplinary course requirement within the first two years of their program. For details on the requirement, see the “Doctor of Philosophy Degree ” section in the Bulletin.

Residence Requirements

For residence and other requirements, see the section on “Degree Regulations ” in the Bulletin.

Supervisory Committee

A student admitted into the doctoral program in history will be assigned an advisor. With faculty approval, the student’s advisor may be changed.

Substantive Research Papers

Doctoral students must present two substantive research papers for departmental approval before completing their courses. The papers should come out of CGU history seminars. The object is to demonstrate the student’s excellence in developing and supporting an argument based on careful, detailed analysis of primary sources and careful, critical evaluation of such materials. The papers must receive at least a B+, but preferably a higher grade.

Languages and Research Tools.

The student must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages or in one foreign language and an approved research tool. Foreign language proficiency is demonstrated when the student passes a language exam for reading comprehension. European studies students must demonstrate proficiency in French and German; at the discretion of the supervisory committee, an alternative language may be substituted if particularly pertinent to a student’s area of interest. Students in early modern history are required to study Latin in addition to French and German. (In this case, Latin may be taken for up to 4 units of credit, with advisor’s approval.)

With the advisor’s approval, a PhD student may substitute the second language requirement with Digital Humanities or oral history. No degree units will be given for the research tool courses.

Digital Humanities (research tool)

Digital Humanities is a collaborative approach to scholarship that combines traditional forms of humanistic study with informational technologies. The emergence and adoption of informational technologies into the humanities is more than a means to an end; informational technologies have had and will have a significant and vital role in shaping scholarship within the humanities. This course explores the core concepts of digital humanities both theoretically and practically through lectures, discussion, and “hands–on” experience using informational technologies—e.g. Zotero, Search, RSS, WordPress, Crowdsourcing—to increase your ability to do, collect, manage, manipulate, and publish research.

Oral History (research tool)

Since 1962, the Graduate University has offered training in oral history, in recognition of the value of oral history as a research technique for developing and preserving historical materials. The program was the third university program of its kind to be established in California and one of the earliest nationwide.

Qualifying Examinations

A demonstration of competence in three fields (a major field and two minor fields) is required of all history and American studies students. Students are eligible to take qualifying exams upon completion of the required units of coursework, completion of language requirements, and approval of two substantive research papers (as noted above). The student should check with the doctoral support secretary to make sure that his/her file is complete and reflects eligibility for the qualifying exams.

Students choose their exam fields and faculty examiners with the approval of their advisor and the dean of the school. At least one committee member must be a faculty member who will serve on the student’s dissertation committee. Following approval of the composition of the committee, students work with their examiners on reading lists and the general structure of the written exam. Exams are scheduled once a semester and students should let the doctoral support secretary know well in advance of his/her plans to take exams in any given semester.

The major field written exam is four hours and each minor field written exam is three hours. Students are expected to schedule with their examining committee well before the written exams a day and time for the one-hour oral that constitutes the final part of the qualifying exams. Students may not take any notes, books, computer disks/flash drives or any other device into the exam room unless by prior written permission of the professor giving the exam.

Students who fail one qualifying exam may possibly be allowed the chance to retake exams in some form or another, but the examining committee reserves the right to ask a failing student to leave the program.

Dissertation Requirements

Students invite faculty to be on their dissertation committee, asking one to serve as chair. The three members are drawn from the CGU faculty or the Claremont Colleges extended faculty, but at least one committee member must be from the core faculty in the School of Arts and Humanities. Each dissertation committee must be approved by the dean.

Every student must submit a dissertation prospectus for approval by his/her dissertation committee. When the committee approves the proposal, the members meet with the student for a face-to-face meeting discussing the proposed dissertation. After this meeting, the student becomes officially “ABD.” Committee members generally read multiple drafts of dissertation chapters. When the committee has approved the final written dissertation, a final public oral defense is scheduled.

The dissertation must be accepted by the committee well before the deadline listed in the academic calendar.


For additional information about the History program requirements, please see the department handbook.

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