Skip to Navigation

Skip to Content

The Graduate Program - Guidelines

The Program in History

This handbook is designed to provide guidance in your graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania as well as to answer frequently asked questions about the program.*

(Effective September 1, 2009)

The Ph.D. Program

The purpose of the Ph. D. program is to train professional historians who are both scholars and teachers.  During your years of study here you will acquire the scholarly tools you need for such an academic career:  systematic knowledge of at least three broad historical fields, rigorous training and experience in scholarly research, familiarity with the most influential approaches to historical explanation, genuine awareness of what are truly significant historical problems, and engagement in interdisciplinary approaches to history drawn from other social sciences and humanities.  You will also receive in the course of your graduate study in History valuable teaching experience.  The Ph.D. program is a demanding one, so you should be prepared to devote full time to your studies throughout the academic year and during the summer.

Summer Preparation

Incoming, first-year graduate students should use the summer before enrolling to prepare for graduate study in the following ways:

  1. Read widely in the philosophy of history, the history of historical writing, and research methods.
  2. Choose and read carefully several important works of history in your general field of interest.  Done without the pressure of going to classes and writing research papers, such preliminary reading provides valuable background knowledge and enables incoming Ph. D. candidates to decide early on what kinds of historical problems they wish to investigate.
  3. Give some thought to the lecture courses and seminars you want to take during the first year of graduate study, and to the shape of your eventual examination fields.  A list of courses to be given by the History Department during the coming academic year is normally available in late spring.
  4. Prepare to pass a reading examination in at least one or two foreign languages soon after arrival in September.  The Graduate Faculty offers language courses in select modern European languages and sometimes Latin during the First Summer Session for those graduate students in the Ph. D. program who need to gain knowledge of the language; however, funding is not available for these courses.  It is best to have reading competence in two languages before beginning the program. 

First Semester Registration

In the summer, all incoming students will receive important information concerning registration. 
Students should plan to be at the University during the three days after Labor Day in order to meet with academic advisors to confirm registration or plan other courses for the fall semester, and to attend a meeting of all new graduate students in the History Department.  At this meeting, usually held on Tuesday after Labor Day, the Graduate Chair will extend an official welcome, explain procedures required for course selection, and answer other questions. 

Before the initial meetings with academic advisors, students should have made tentative decisions concerning probable fields of study and how requirements for additional language and/or other technical competencies may be met.  If advisory meetings suggest that changes are needed in summer pre-registration, these may be easily done during the "Drop and Add" period at the beginning of the semester.

Advisors and Advisory Committees

The graduate history program at the University of Pennsylvania stresses flexibility and allows maximum choice to students in designing academic programs to fit particular interests and needs.  Because of this, a close student-advisor relationship is essential.  During the summer before arriving at the University every Ph. D. candidate in History will be assigned to an academic advisor who will supervise the first year of graduate study.  In many cases these advisors will continue to serve in the same capacity during subsequent years and will function as dissertation supervisors for students who have completed their course requirements and passed their Ph. D. oral examinations.  Students may ask the Graduate Chair to assign them different advisors, however, if their fields of historical interest change or other problems arise. The advisor must be a member of the standing faculty in the history department.

Early in the spring term of the first year, each student will select, in consultation with the academic advisor and subject to the approval of the Graduate Chair, two other faculty members to form the advisory committee.  These professors will assist the principal advisor in supervising the remaining years of the student's academic program and will serve as members of the student’s Ph.D. examining committee. Each advisory committee shall consist of at least three faculty members, of whom two must be members of the Graduate Group in History. Committee members may be replaced by petition of the student if the change is approved by the remaining members and the Graduate Chair.

Ph. D. candidates will meet at least once a year with their advisory committees to discuss remaining course requirements, determine precise fields of study, specify language and/or other technical competency requirements, and schedule a tentative examination date.  The advisory committees will also evaluate the academic performance of graduate students and make recommendations for financial aid.  In the first year, this evaluation will be based on the committee’s review of the student’s course evaluations and a progress report submitted by the student at least a week before the meeting, to each committee member. For second- and third-year committee procedures, see below, "Ph.D. Qualifying Evaluation" and "Ph.D. Preliminary Examination." Advisory committees will meet by mid-March each year.

A report on each advisory committee meeting is completed by the presiding academic advisor and placed in the student’s open file.  Within a week of the first- and second-year committee meetings, the advisor will also write a letter to the student clearly evaluating the student’s progress to date based on the self-report, discussion at the committee meeting, the committee’s evaluation form, course evaluations by instructors, and other contents of the student’s file and (for second-year students) portfolio.  The purpose of the letter is to offer clear and honest feedback about the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and status in the program, and also to satisfy the department’s and the graduate school’s need for regular and systematic evaluation of graduate students during their first two years in the program.  A copy of the letter will be submitted to the Graduate Chair for review by the Graduate Committee and for inclusion in the student’s file.  Students may also review the course evaluations and advisory committee reports contained in their files.


The University requires that every Ph. D. candidate complete a total of 14 units of course work with passing grades before taking the candidacy examination and beginning work on the dissertation.     Recognizing the need for maximum flexibility in the ways that graduate students meet the course requirement, the Graduate Group in History encourages all students to work closely with their advisors and advising committees to tailor the curriculum to meet their needs. 

History 700

The history department requires only one two-unit course of all students: History 700. This course focuses on historical method, practice, and research. It combines theoretical, methodological, and substantive materials. It is designed to span the geographical and chronological fields represented in the Graduate Group and may be taught by more than one faculty member. During the fall semester the seminar concentrates on historiographical and theoretical literature. During the spring term each student will undertake specialized individual research on a particular aspect of the general topic that falls within his/her major field of interest, and at the end of the term each will submit a substantial seminar-length paper presenting his or her findings. Such papers will be jointly supervised and graded by the seminar instructor(s) and the academic advisor of each student.  The student must submit the 700 paper to the Graduate Coordinator for inclusion in her/his file as soon as it is completed. 

The Second-Year Research Requirement

In the second year, graduate students are required to write another original, primary-source based research paper. This paper may be completed as part of the requirements of a graduate course or a graded independent study. Graduate students’ advising committees will certify that the second-year research requirement has been met by reviewing the paper.  Students must place copies of their second-year papers in their files by September of the third year.  Students entering the program with an MA in history should try to produce a second research paper in the first year or fall term of the second year.

The Summer Dissertation Proposal Workshop

The department prefers that students take the summer dissertation proposal workshop in the summer after their second year of study (after the first year if a student comes to the program with a year of graduate work already completed).  A student may, however, defer the workshop to the following summer with the written permission of his or her advisor.  A student must have the advisor’s approval of a topic before entering the workshop, and the final proposal must be approved by the advisor in the following fall, and by the advisory committee at its first meeting after the workshop.

Colloquia and Research Seminars

Each year the department will offer 500-level and 600-level colloquia and 700-level research seminars.  Although primarily intended for advanced undergraduate students, 400-level courses may be taken for graduate credit by satisfying additional requirements set by the instructor.

Colloquia are reading and discussion courses on special topics or covering broad chronological periods or geographical areas; they are designed to give students command of relevant historiographical literature. Colloquium instructors always require some kind of written work in these courses as well, such as a historiographical essay, an annotated bibliography, or a series of analytical book reviews.

Courses in Other Departments

We encourage graduate students to take courses in other departments at Penn, when pedagogically appropriate. Many of our faculty are involved in interdisciplinary research, belong to cross-departmental centers, and appreciate the value that study in the methods, theory, and practice of other disciplines can bring to history. In addition, there are many non-departmental historians and historically-oriented scholars in departments as diverse as English, Sociology, Comparative Literature, Political Science, Anthropology, Law, Social Work, Education, Art History, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Architecture and Planning, and many others. Many graduate students participate in the Urban Studies and Women’s Studies graduate certificate programs. Students who wish to enroll in courses outside the History department should consult with their advisors about courses that may be relevant to their courses of study.

Graded Independent Studies

Many graduate students meet their course requirements by enrolling in graded independent study courses. These courses provide the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a topic not covered by regularly offered courses or to conduct research outside of the setting of a formal seminar. All independent study courses require the instructor's written permission.

Graded independent studies normally involve:

  1. completion of a specific reading or research project
  2. regularly scheduled tutorial sessions with the supervising instructor during the course of the semester
  3. submission of a substantial paper at the end of the term in which the course is taken


In certain fields, it makes pedagogical sense for a student to attend an appropriate undergraduate course taught by a supervising faculty member. The student will also meet separately on a regular basis with the faculty member and submit graduate-level written work, including a substantial paper. Enrollment in a preceptorial requires the permission of the supervising faculty member. Students wishing to arrange preceptorials are encouraged to discuss the option with faculty members well before the beginning of the semester.

Discussion and Reading Groups

Graduate students prepare for Ph. D. candidacy examinations and for careers as professional scholars by more than just taking courses. They are encouraged to take an active role in their own training by deciding independently what kinds of topics interest them most and what they should do on their own to learn more about them. Small student-organized discussion groups are ideal for this purpose as well as for developing scholarly and professional outlooks in a professor-free environment. On occasion, faculty members may also organize non-graded, informal reading groups for interested graduate students.

Incomplete Course Work

It is in the interest of graduate students and faculty alike that all work be completed by the end of the semester in which the course is taken. Some professors in fact require this. There are severe penalties -- specifically, ineligibility for financial aid -- for students who do not complete their course work within the semester in which it is taken.

Language and Technical Competency Requirement

The Graduate Group recognizes that the language, quantitative, and other methodological training needed by particular Ph. D. candidates will vary widely.  It is usual, however, that students in European history must demonstrate competence in at least two major European languages, while American history students may demonstrate competence in two languages other than English or in one foreign language and a technical or methodololgical skill discipline such as statistics, geographic information systems, digital systems, or demography.  Students in the history of other parts of the world must demonstrate competence in at least two languages other than English.  All students must in any case demonstrate to the satisfaction of their advisors and other committee members -- via certification of language examiners or completion of relevant courses -- that they have achieved research competence in these technical areas by January of the third year of study (second year for students entering with history MAs).  Candidacy examinations cannot be scheduled until both language requirements have been satisfied.  Note that continuation of a student’s fellowship depends on taking the candidacy examination at the time designated below.

It is in all cases preferable that technical competency requirements be satisfied during the first year of graduate study.  Ph. D. candidates who require language or methodological skills in addition to these defined minima in order to carry on research in their main area of specialization must satisfy their advisory committees that they have acquired these no later than the date of their Ph. D. candidacy examinations.  Students in European and other non-US history can be expected to read texts in the languages of their major fields in their coursework from the first semester on. 

Field Requirements

All Ph. D. candidates will prepare to pass general examinations in three fields:

  1. a general field defined by a long time span and a national or regional geographic framework, meant to enable graduates to teach standard survey courses (e.g., Modern U.S., Early Modern Europe);
  2. a primary specialty field carved from the general field, defined more specifically either geographically, chronologically, or topically (e.g. Modern French Political History, American Women's History, Twentieth Century African Labor History); and
  3. a secondary field that has a theoretical, methodological, or cross-cultural emphasis (e.g. Issues and Methods in Demographic History, Comparative Race Relations in Historical Perspective).

The precise scope of general, primary, and secondary fields, the linkage between them, and the program of study for their completion (course work and independent reading) will be worked out by each student in consultation with his/her conference committee; decisions in all these areas are to be clearly spelled out in the reports of these meetings that are placed in the student's academic file. For the third field, students are encouraged to look for course work outside the History Department.

Teaching Requirement

The Department expects that all Ph.D. students gain experience as teachers in preparation for their future careers. All History Ph.D. students must teach for a minimum of at least one year during their time at Penn. The terms of University Fellowships and Awards may require additional teaching. Most Ph.D. students will meet the teaching requirement by serving as teaching assistants during their second and third years of graduate study. Teaching assistants will be closely supervised by their faculty supervisors, who meet with them regularly to discuss course materials and assignments and provide them with instruction and advice on pedagogical matters. Instructors with teaching assistants are expected to visit the TAs' discussion sections at least once a semester and to provide a written evaluation of their teaching assistants' performance.

Teaching assistants will be assigned by the Graduate Chair, bearing in mind course needs and faculty and graduate student preferences. Preliminary assignments will be made by the end of the semester preceding the TA assignment, with final assignments to be determined no later than the first week of classes based on course enrollments and other pedagogical needs.

The Ph.D. Qualifying Evaluation

The Ph.D. qualifying evaluation is a first year assessment conducted by the student's advisory committee in its March meeting and reviewed by the Graduate Committee later in the spring term.

At least a week before the committee meets, the student will submit a progress report (PDF) to each member. Committee members are expected to review this report, students' grades, previous committee evaluations and any course evaluations before the meeting. The second year review also includes an assessment of the student's portfolio, which will include the 700 paper and at least one other significant paper from the first year, along with a transcript of the student's graduate work done at the University of Pennsylvania . It is the student's responsibility to submit copies of these papers to the Graduate Coordinator at least four weeks before the committee meeting.

At the advisory committee meeting, after preliminary discussion among the faculty members, the student will be admitted for discussion of academic progress to date and plans for future study. The advisor will prepare a signed report of the meeting for inclusion in the student's file. This report will include a clear recommendation about the student's continued financial aid. The advisor will then write the evaluation letter to the student, with a copy to the Graduate Chair (see above, "Advisors and Advisory Committees"). The Graduate Committee's spring review of these letters and other relevant materials and its final recommendation about the student's continuation in the program will complete the PhD Qualifying Evaluation.

The Ph.D. Candidacy Examination

The Ph.D. candidacy examination may not be scheduled until all University and Graduate Group courses and technical competency requirements have been met. (This includes all coursework, History 700 and one other research paper, and 2 languages.) This means that for students whose entire graduate study careers have been at the University of Pennsylvania , these examinations will take place no later than the end of the spring term of the third year of graduate study. For Ph. D. candidates who enter the Penn graduate history program with an M.A. degree from another institution already in hand, such examinations will take place by the end of the second year of study.

The Ph. D. examination board normally consists of three faculty members -- the candidate's principal academic advisor and the other two members of his/her advisory committee. In some cases, however, the advisory committee may decide to request the addition of a fourth faculty person. The examination may consist of both oral and written parts, although its specific format in each case will be determined by the student's committee. The examination must include the principal field of the candidate's dissertation research. It may be based on the following materials:

  1. Reading lists drawn up by the candidate in consultation with the members of the conference committee.
  2. A list of historical problems agreed upon by the candidate and the conference committee and that has been used as a guide in choosing courses and preparing for the examination.
  3. Essays on the literature of specified historical problems that have been submitted by the candidate prior to the examination and used by members of the examining board as the basis for their questions.
  4. A particular approach or emphasis within primary and/or secondary fields.
  5. An acceptable dissertation prospectus should be completed before these exams and may figure in the examination discussion.

In order to pass the candidacy examination for the Ph.D. a student must secure the unanimous agreement of the members of the examining committee. The advisor must file a written evaluation of the candidate's performance that includes an unambiguous statement of opinion as to whether the candidate passed. In cases where unanimity does not exist, the student may have a re-examination of one or more fields, at the examiners' discretion, within 6-8 weeks of the original examination. If, upon this re-examination, one member of a committee of three (or two members of a committee of four or more) votes the examination a failure, the student's candidacy for the Ph. D. degree is terminated. So that the possibility of arbitrary veto of the candidate may be prevented, however, all of the other members of the examining committee may jointly petition the Graduate Chair to grant another re-examination with a substitute faculty member competent to examine in the failed field or fields. Their petition must be unanimous.

The Dissertation

Ph.D. candidates are expected to begin full-time research on their dissertation projects immediately upon passing their Ph.D. candidacy examination. During the third year of graduate study (or in the case of students with M.A.s, in the second term of the second year) candidates will submit a dissertation proposal to and receive the formal approval of all members of their advisory committees. Students are required to provide the Department with printed copies of the committee's approval and their proposals to be added to their files.

After the approval of the dissertation proposal and after passing the Ph.D. candidacy examination the student, in consultation with the student's principal advisor, should select at least two additional faculty members to serve on his/her Dissertation Committee. At least two members of the Dissertation Committee, including the principal advisor, should be members of the Graduate Group in History; the third member should also be from the Graduate Group in History, or, if absolutely necessary, from another department within the University of Pennsylvania or from another university, college, or scholarly institute. Dissertation Committee members from other universities must be approved by the Chair of the Graduate Group before their appointment to the Committee. Approval will be based primarily on whether or not it is possible for the student to constitute fully his/her Dissertation Committee with only Penn faculty. When a student has established his/her dissertation committee, he/she must inform the Graduate Chair of its composition.

The principal academic advisor of a Ph.D. candidate will direct the research and supervise the writing of the dissertation while other members of the committee may read preliminary drafts and suggest changes where appropriate. In all cases the dissertation must be read and approved for its defense by the candidate's main advisor.

When candidates are ready to have the final drafts of their dissertations printed, they should obtain from the Graduate Faculty office a set of University of Pennsylvania rules governing the form in which dissertations are submitted. This is very important, for that office will refuse to accept theses with too-narrow margins, incorrect pagination, or other flaws, thus delaying the awarding of Ph.D. degrees. Doctoral candidates in the final stages of their dissertation writing should also be sure to consult the calendar published in the Graduate Studies Bulletin in order to know the various deadlines for applying for the degree, submitting finished dissertations to their first and second readers for their approval, and depositing the completed thesis at the Graduate Faculty office. Either the candidate in person or his/her designee should "deposit" the dissertation. It is not the responsibility of the Graduate Chair, any other faculty member, or the department administrative staff to do this.

The doctoral dissertation must be submitted and accepted no later than ten calendar years after matriculation into the Ph.D. Program. Should the dissertation not be submitted and accepted within this time, the student will be dropped from Ph.D. program.

The Dissertation Defense (PDF) provides an opportunity for public presentation and recognition of completed doctoral work and for formal discussion and evaluation of the dissertation.

Fellowships and Financial Aid

Nearly all History Ph.D. students are recipients of four- or five-year fellowships awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences upon admission. Application for fellowship and scholarship awards (except where otherwise specified) is made simply by checking the appropriate box on the first page of the application for admission. To be assured of receiving full consideration for University fellowships and scholarships, applicants should be sure that their applications and supporting documents (transcripts, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores) are received no later than December 15 of the application year. Applicants should file their applications and supporting material as early as possible to allow time for the most careful consideration.

Since awards are made for the purpose of accelerating study toward advanced degrees, all fellows must register for full-time programs (i.e., three course units per term for credit in the first year, two plus one teaching course in the second and third years) unless they have already completed the courses necessary for their degrees, in which case the student then registers for dissertation. All award holders must maintain good academic standing according to the standards set by the individual graduate group, and a grade average of B+ or better. The amount of an award is subject to possible adjustment in the event that the recipient also receives another fellowship award.

Beyond the fellowship package awarded at admission, a variety of other fellowships are available through the department and the University to assist in summer research, provide an extra dissertation writing year, allow for further language study, or otherwise expand opportunities for doctoral study. Competition for these fellowships is generally announced by email to students during the course of the academic year.

Teaching and Research Fellowships

Teaching and research fellowships and tuition scholarships are also available to eligible graduate students. In addition, the history department often assigns graduate students to teach evening or summer courses in conjunction with the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. Those wishing to be considered for these positions should respond to the Department's call for proposals during the course of any given year . Advanced graduate students are also eligible to apply for teaching positions through the Critical Writing Program and the Communication within the Curriculum Program.

Evaluation and Certification of the English Fluency of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Pursuant to the requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's English Fluency in Higher Education Act, the University requires that all personnel, including graduate teaching assistants, who have instructional contact with undergraduates (which includes teaching, lecturing, tutoring, laboratory instruction, leading recitation or discussion sections, holding office hours, etc.) be evaluated and certified as fluent in the use of the English language in the classroom before undertaking any instructional duties involving undergraduates. Prospective graduate teaching assistants with questions regarding the evaluation or certification of their English fluency in the classroom should consult with their department or graduate group chairperson, or the English Language Programs.

Policy on External Fellowships

Applicants and students with outstanding academic records are strongly urged to apply for external fellowships in their fields of interest. There are numerous prestigious fellowships, many of which are more lucrative than institutional awards. Information is available from the Career Services office, and the history department also announces opportunities by email as information is provided to us.

Students receiving an award from a source external to the University are expected to accept the award and notify the graduate group chair. The University does not permit fellowship packages simply to be added together.

Extracurricular Activities

All graduate students in history are urged to become active members of the Clio Club . In addition to social gatherings, the Club arranges lectures and discussions of historical topics, pedagogical issues, and professional development. Its members are represented on the Graduate Committee and play an important role in suggesting and implementing constructive changes in the Graduate History program. A variety of interdisciplinary seminars is available at the University for faculty and graduate students. Students should consult with their advisors about seminars that will be particularly useful to them.


Most graduate students in History expect to pursue professional careers as teachers and academics, and the University of Pennsylvania has been very competitive in helping its newly-minted History Ph.D.s realize this ambition. Realism demands that graduate students should be alert to other career possibilities--archival and library work, journalism, government service, museum appointments, business, consulting, etc .-- and should consider tailoring their graduate study to give themselves valuable flexibility. Similarly, versatility in teaching a wide range of courses can be very useful in securing entry-level teaching positions.

In September of the year they expect to enter the job market, Ph. D. students establish a credentials file (including a transcript and letters of reference) at the University Placement Service. At the same time, job seekers should consult regularly with the departmental placement officer -- a faculty member who receives release time to assist in job searches -- and read the Chronicle of Higher Education , the job listings in H-Net, and the monthly Employment Information Bulletin published by the American Historical Association in which all colleges and universities in the United States have agreed to advertise any positions in History that they may have to fill.

When a vacancy is announced in a candidate's area of specialization, the student should direct the Placement Service to send a copy of the file to the hiring institution. A personal letter of application, vita , and dissertation abstract should also be sent under separate cover. The primary objective is for the job candidate to secure an interview at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, which is currently held during the first week of January. This is extremely important: almost all tenure-track academic positions in History are ultimately filled by someone who was originally interviewed at the AHA convention. On the other hand, although many jobs are advertised at this meeting, it is not usually very productive to attend this convention for employment purposes unless specific job interviews have been arranged in advance. Opportunities in one-year positions, usually to fill in for a faculty member on leave, generally develop later in the spring.

To view materials from the most recent workshop on applying for jobs and postdocs, please use your Penn credentials to visit

A Graduate Career

What follows is a year-by-year normative description of what the Graduate Group in History expects Ph. D. candidates to accomplish during their first three years at the University of Pennsylvania . The fourth and fifth years are devoted to dissertation research and writing, and application for post-doctoral fellowships and/or teaching and research positions. All Ph.D. students will be required to take History 700 (the first-year proseminar); at least one introductory colloquium or independent study in the region of specialization; and, during the second year, one course with a significant research component (such as a research seminar or a research-oriented independent study). In addition, all students must participate in the Summer Dissertation Proposal Workshop, ordinarily in the summer after their second year of study, or after the first year for students who have an MA degree prior to matriculating.

First Year

All full-time students will take History 700 and at least two other substantive courses during each semester of their first year of graduate study. By the end of the first academic year of study, all full-time first year Ph. D. candidates should have accumulated a total of six course units.

Second Year

Full-time students will take two courses during each semester of their second year of graduate study. One course must include a significant research component, resulting in an article-length research paper. In addition, students will gain valuable experience as teaching assistants. During these semesters, students will register for Hist 800 (Pedagogy in History), to coincide with their teaching assignment .

At the end of their second year (first year for students with M.A. degrees from other institutions) students will participate in the Summer Dissertation Proposal Workshop. Through a process of discussion and revision, each participant prepares a proposal of his or her eventual dissertation topic. The first six weeks are spent in seminar. Thereafter, students conduct research for the remainder of that summer. Information gleaned from this research is incorporated into a final draft, which the student must place in her/his file before scheduling the candidacy examination. In special circumstances, students may, with the written permission of their advisors, participate in the dissertation proposal workshop after their third year of study (second for students with M.A. degrees or the equivalent number of course credits from other institutions).

Third Year

Ph. D. candidates with M.A. degrees from other institutions and who completed their course requirements in the second year will have taken their Ph.D. candidacy examinations at the end of that year, so that the summer following may be devoted to dissertation research. All other full-time students may take up to two graded courses plus Hist 800 each semester, so that by the end of their third year of study, they will be prepared for their candidacy exam and ready to conduct dissertation research in their area of specialization.

Graduate Committee Policies and Procedures

1. Composition

The Executive Committee of the Graduate Group shall consist of the Graduate Chair and six other faculty members, each appointed for a term of three years; the terms shall be staggered if possible so that two new appointments shall be made each year. New appointments shall be made by the Graduate Chair in consultation with the Graduate Committee. The Committee membership shall represent the Department's various areas of interest.

Two graduate students, chosen by the Clio Club, will serve on the committee. They shall be appointed for a term of two years, the terms staggered so that one new appointment shall be made each year. The graduate student representatives on the Executive Committee will have the same rights and responsibilities as the faculty members in deliberations on all matters concerning educational policy. They will not participate in deliberations on personnel matters, e.g., admissions and financial aid.

2. Admission

The Graduate Committee, in consultation with the Graduate Dean, shall determine the number of qualified students to be admitted into the M.A. and Ph. D. programs. The Committee shall determine the qualifications of applicants on the basis of their grade point average, GRE scores, specific training in History, personal statements of professional interests, writing samples, and references. In all cases where an applicant indicates a desire to work in a specific area represented on the Graduate Group Faculty, the professors in this field must approve the applicant's admission before the student is accepted. No student -- however well qualified -- will be admitted if the Graduate Committee judges that the candidate's needs cannot be met by the Graduate Group.

3. Financial Aid Procedures for Continuing Students

Fellowships for continuing graduate students shall be awarded solely on the basis of each candidate's academic performance. Recipients of such awards must be in good academic standing and their records clear of incompletes from the previous semester. Recommendations for renewal of fellowships are made by the Graduate Committee, guided by each student's advisory committee reports, advisors' letters to students, course evaluations, and the results of the Qualifying Evaluation and Candidacy Examination. The Committee will normally not override the recommendations of those faculty persons most familiar with each student's work.

Ph. D. candidates in good academic standing may generally expect to receive a total of four or five years of support by the department (depending on whether the student entered with the MA in history or not), so long as present levels of funding for graduate education are maintained by the University. These need not be chronologically continuous. Thus, a student resourceful enough to secure outside funding in his/her fourth year of study, for example, may be eligible for departmental funding in the fifth year of study.

4. Grievance Procedures

Students who feel that they have been the victims of violations of the department's regular procedures in the awarding of aid may file a formal written grievance with the Graduate Chair, who will then convene a joint meeting of the Graduate Committee, the aggrieved student, the student's conference committee, a representative of the Clio Club, and the department chair in order to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution of the complaint. In the event of failure, the matter will, at the discretion of the student, be referred for decision to the Dean for Graduate Studies and/or the University Ombudsman.

5. Change in Policies and Procedures

The Graduate Committee will periodically review its policies and procedures and recommend any necessary substantive changes to the departmental faculty. Changes will take effect if the faculty approve them and shall go into effect in the September following their approval.

M.A. Degree in History

The M.A. in History is designed for students with specific objectives such as community college or secondary school teaching, journalism, archival administration, library or public sector work, personal gratification, etc -- students who normally neither require nor desire a Ph. D. degree. For students completing the M.A. degree, admission to the Ph. D. program will be considered on the same basis as that of new applicants. There is normally no funding for M.A. candidates.

The Graduate Committee provides a common program for M.A. and MA/BA candidates that is distinct from the Ph. D. program. Candidates are required to do the following:

  1. Complete a minimum of eight course, which may include History 700 (with the instructor's permission) but must include at least two 600-level courses and four additional graduate courses in the Department of History or other departments appropriate to their career objectives.
  2. Write a Master's thesis oriented to their specific skills and career plans.
  3. Pass a final examination based upon the Master's thesis and the statement of goals included in the original application for admission. This examination will be conducted by the candidate's academic advisor and at least one other Graduate Group faculty member.

The University of Pennsylvania requires no formal certification of language skills for the M.A., degree; however, certain technical competency requirements (including language) may be appropriate in the M.A. programs of particular students. In such cases they will be determined by the candidate in consultation with his/her academic advisor.

Graduate Division Regulations

Students should consult The Graduate Division of the School of Arts & Sciences for additional guidelines to M.A. and Ph.D. studies.

*All policies and procedures are subject to change by the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate Committee of the Department of History.