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The Ph.D. Program

Training Historians to be both Scholars and Teachers

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree complete twenty course units over a three-year period, four of which may be taken as ungraded independent study courses. General examinations are taken at the end of the sixth semester of study in three areas of inquiry: a general regional/national concentration; a specialty carved from the regional/national concentration; and a field that has a theoretical, methodological, or comparative emphasis. Examination areas are defined by students in consultation with members of their faculty advisory committees, who serve as examiners. In addition, Ph.D. candidates must also satisfy language and technical competency requirements appropriate to their particular fields of study. Successful completion of these requirements and the general exams allows candidates to pursue dissertation research and writing, normally a two-year process.

Students actually begin their dissertation work at the end of the second year of study through participation in a special summer workshop aimed at the writing of a dissertation proposal. The Ph.D. is awarded upon successful completion of the dissertation. Applicants with Master's degrees in history of allied disciplines may receive up to eight units of credit toward the Penn Ph.D. degree.

As part of the Ph.D. program, students can also receive a Certificate in World History upon completion of certain requirements. The department also offers students a combined J.D./Ph.D. Program in American Legal History, sponsored jointly by the Law School and the Department of History.

For a detailed description of the program requirements, please read the Program Guidelines.