The curriculum for graduate study in the History Department was revised in 2007, and both new and old programs are listed here. The new program applies to all students who entered in fall 2007 or after; the old program applies to everyone who entered in 2004 and earlier. Students who entered in 2005 or 2006 may opt to follow either program.
This new program applies to all students entering in fall 2007 or after. It is optional for students who entered in 2005 or 2006.
Fields of Study
All fields of study will be determined in consultation with the graduate adviser.
Students may, with prior consent of their adviser, take up to four 400-level courses towards completing the field requirements outlined below.
Upon application to the program, students should formally declare a major field of study. The purpose of the major field is to prepare students broadly for teaching and research. The department offers major fields in the following areas:
- Medieval Europe
- Early Modern Europe
- Latin America
- Modern Europe
- Middle East
Students may, with the support of their adviser, petition the Graduate Program Committee for an alternative major field.
The course requirement for the major field is a minimum of 4 courses. Students should consult with their adviser for the particular course requirements of their chosen major field.
Some students may opt to take a second major field of study in lieu of the minor field described below.
No later than the beginning of the second year of study, students should formally declare a minor field of study. The purpose of the minor field is to broaden the student’s teaching and research expertise beyond the geotemporal boundaries of the major field.
Some students will choose a minor field from the list of major fields of study, or a subset of those fields. Other students may opt for a transnational or comparative field, or a thematic field, or a trans-temporal field, or a discipline outside history. Possible minor fields would therefore include:
- Modern Europe
- Premodern Japan
- The Colonial Americas
- Post-Medieval Europe
- Gender and Sexuality
- Visual Studies
This list is not exhaustive, and is meant to suggest possible courses of study.
The course requirement for the minor field is a minimum of 2 courses.
Depending on their areas of interest, some students may substitute a second major field for the minor field, or complete two minor fields.
Either the minor field, or the area of specialization, must be outside the major field of study, or transnational, or outside the discipline of history.
AREA OF SPECIALIZATION
No later than the beginning of the second year of study, students should formally declare an area of specialization. The purpose of the area of specialization is to deepen the student’s scholarly training in a chosen area.
The area of specialization may be approached in one of two ways: as a thematic field, or as a research field involving intensive preparation for the dissertation. Possible areas of specialization would therefore include:
- 19th Century Intellectual History
- Visual Culture
- Women's History
- The American West
- British History
- History of Science and Medicine
This list is not exhaustive and is meant to suggest possible courses of study.
The course requirement for the area of specialization is 3 courses.
Either the minor field, or the area of specialization, must be outside the major field of study, or transnational (including thematic clusters), or outside the discipline of history.
- All entering students (including those with M.A. degrees) are required to take History 500 in their first semester of study.
- All students are required to take two 600-level research seminars in the History Department, at least one of which must be in the major area of study.
- Students must complete a minimum of 60 units of coursework, of which no more than 8 units may be in History 794.
- Students must complete at least 30 units of graduate course work within the USC History Department.
- All students must demonstrate either (1) proficiency (advanced reading ability and conversational ability) in one research language other than English or (2) competence (reading ability) in two research languages other than English. Faculty members in each graduate field will set additional language requirements as necessary for research in that field. Proficiency and competence in languages will be assessed in two-hour translation examinations administered by History faculty at the beginning of every semester. All students must pass departmentally administered language examinations before proceeding to qualifying examinations for the doctoral degree.
Students prepare for qualifying exams by developing, in collaboration with appropriate faculty, reading lists for study in their major field, minor field, and area of specialization.
Each student should select a Guidance Committee — consisting of at least 5 members (including at least 3 from within the History Department, and at least 1 from outside the department — who must hold a tenure-track position in a PhD-granting program). The relationship between the Guidance Committee membership and the structure of the qualifying exams should be worked out in consultation with the student’s graduate adviser and the members of the Guidance Committee.
The Guidance Committee must be constituted by the end of the student’s 4th semester of residential study in the program; and the qualifying exams should be completed no later than the 6th semester of residential study. (Study abroad thus does not count towards these semester limits.)
The qualifying examination consists of 2 parts:
- three 4-hour open-book written examinations (to be taken on-campus) based on the reading lists for the major field, minor field, and area of specialization (students who take two minor fields will combine them into a single examination);
- one 2-hour oral examination, which may include some discussion of the written exam already completed.
Passing to Candidacy
After students have successfully completed their qualifying examinations, they should select a Dissertation Committee—consisting of at least 3 members (including at least 2 from the History Department)—who will be in charge of guiding the dissertation to completion.
Within six months after the qualifying exams, each student is required to submit a formal dissertation prospectus (which must be accepted by all members of the Dissertation Committee), and to pass a 1-hour oral prospectus defense involving that committee. Some students (e.g. those whose major field is in East Asia) can, with the approval of the Dissertation Committee, petition for an extension of this 6-month deadline.
OLD GRADUATE PROGRAM
This program applies to all students who entered in 2004 or earlier. It is optional for students who entered in 2005 or 2006.
1. Normal Progress Toward a Degree
The Department of History's degree programs are governed by the regulations of the university's Graduate School. Prospective students should obtain and study the relevant rules in the current edition of the university's online Catalogue for full information on degree requirements, special regulations governing master's and doctoral work, and general information concerning the university's graduate offerings and resources for graduate study. A hard copy of the Catalogue, which costs $12.95, can be requested from the University. The following paragraphs only highlight a few of the most basic requirements; students should note that the only official source of information is that Catalogue for the academic year in which they matriculate.
Advising: Once admitted to the program, students are expected to keep in close contact with faculty, and every student will be assigned an initial faculty advisor based on the department's evaluation of their areas of special interest. Advising about paperwork procedures and bureaucratic details is also available from the Director of Graduate Studies, department staff, and the Office of Student Services in the Graduate School.
Areas and Fields of Study: The department offers graduate degrees in the history of North America including Mexico, ancient, medieval, and modern Europe, and in East Asia and the Pacific Rim. Alternatively, students may focus on a subject area of strength in the Department that spans two or more geographical regions; for example, the early modern world, gender and women, and medicine.
2. Doctor of Philosophy Program
Students may pursue the Doctor of Philosophy degree in history after receiving an M.A., either from USC or another institution, or in exceptional cases immediately following the receipt of a bachelor’s degree. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 60 semester units of graduate coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree, with at least one full year of graduate coursework (24 units) in residence at the main USC campus. In addition, all students must successfully pass the Departmental Qualifying Examinations for the doctorate in order to be advanced to candidacy, and, following advancement, must complete a satisfactory dissertation consisting of original research on an historical topic. Required course work includes the Department’s introductory sequences (History 500 and 601, and in addition for Americanists, History 570 and 571), at least two 600-level seminars in the student’s major field, and registration in 794 (Dissertation) for a minimum of two semesters. Although not required, History 592 (Historiography) is strongly recommended.
The major division points in a doctoral student’s graduate career here at USC are as follows:
- During the first year the student must complete the introductory sequence(s), taking such additional coursework as is required or recommended by the faculty advisor.
- Before the completion of one full year (24 units) of graduate coursework, the student will be screened by the full faculty in order to determine fitness to continue in the doctoral program. Screening is normally done at a special faculty meeting at the end of the spring semester,but may be performed any time at faculty discretion.
- In the second year after enrollment, the student should establish a five-member Guidance Committee under the director of the faculty advisor, who is normally the faculty member in the major field of concentration. One member of the committee must be from outside the History Department. The Guidance Committee assumes the academic advisement of the student and oversees the student’s remaining coursework. This committee should be in place no later than the end of the second year of study, and its composition will be reported to the Graduate School upon the student’s request to take the qualifying examinations.
- Qualifying examinations are administered by the Guidance Committee normally during the third year of study. The examination consists of a written portion, consisting of four fields at least three of which are in history, and an oral section, in which the student is examined by the full five-member Guidance Committee in a formal face-to-face meeting. If the Guidance Committee passes the student, the student is advanced to candidacy and begins work on a piece of original scholarship, the dissertation.
- In the dissertation stage, the Guidance Committee is reduced from five to three members, including a member from an outside department, and henceforth is known as the Dissertation Committee. Students must register in History 794 (Dissertation) each semester following advancement to candidacy, and should keep in close contact with the Dissertation Committee regarding progress in the research project. The final dissertation must be defended before the entire Dissertation Committee; if successfully defended, the Committee gives approval for final typing and award of the doctorate.
Most students entering with a master's degree complete all doctoral degree requirements in six years.
Students may petition to extend this period to eight years total. (For students entering doctoral study without a doctorate, the respective time limits are eight and ten years.) Students should note the continuous registration policy: they must be enrolled in coursework every semester following admission unless they obtain approval in advance from the department for a leave of absence. Failing to maintain continuous enrollment will result in loss of graduate standing, and a student will need to apply for readmission.
3. Foreign Language Requirements
Research proficiency in foreign languages is needed for many research projects. Requirements vary according to the degree sought and the specialization of the student. Master's candidates normally must show proficiency in one foreign language relevant to their thesis or examination areas, but an exception is made for master's students concentrating on the United States history, for whom no language is required.
Ph.D. students must normally demonstrate proficiency in at least two languages selected in consultation with the Guidance Committee. Proficiency in foreign languages is usually tested by an approved faculty member in the department. Students in United States or Latin American history may substitute a program in statistics or computer research skills for one of the languages.
All language requirements must be met before a student is allowed to take comprehensive or qualifying examinations, or is allowed to begin work on a thesis or dissertation.
4. Professional Training and Placement — approximately 70 percent of the department's recent doctoral graduates have obtained full-time employment as professional historians.
A graduate student's establishment of an identity as a professional historian involves much more than merely completing a certain number of courses, examinations and research projects. It involves entering a network of professional relationships not merely as a student but as a researcher, writer, and teacher. To aid the graduate student in achieving these less formal professional credentials, the department hosts not merely only seminars (at which distinguished historians present and speak about their recent work), but a wide range of topical seminars designed especially for prospective colleagues. These include seminars on how to be a successful teacher, how to prepare the professional resume (called a curriculum vitae), the importance and character of membership and attendance at professional association meetings, career options as an historian (professorial; teaching; research; archival) and ways in which to prepare for job interviews. Department faculty stage mock job interviews for doctoral students about to go onto the job market as a means of helping them procure positions in the profession.
While the department cannot guarantee to all students who complete a doctoral degree here that they will be hired as historians, its professors feel an obligation to help doctoral students obtain jobs and to train doctoral students in the means and ways of obtaining the kind of jobs they desire. Over the past four years the faculty has been very successful in helping recent Ph.D. graduates obtain employment, whether in a tenure-track position at a university, a teaching position at a state or community college, or as an archivist in a variety of research settings.