PhD Program

Fields of Study – General Course and Credit Requirements

The Qualifying Examination and Dissertation ProspectusStages of the Program

Fields of Study

The University of Florida offers a wide range of resources for history graduate students in diverse fields and subfields of study. PhD students indicate their major field interest or may indicate their preference for a dual major when they apply to the program.

The Major Field

Almost all doctoral students are grouped into one of the following broad geographic fields taking coursework and preparing for examinations within that field. Within these broad geographic and chronological divisions, students develop concentrations and/or focused examination reading lists in consultation with their advisors. In addition to the overarching curricular rules which apply to all doctoral students, these geographic sections have their own rules and guidelines. The pages linked below explain the specific requirements for doctoral students working within each geographic section:

Africa (AFH)
Europe (EUH)

  • Late Antique/Medieval History
  • Medieval/Early Modern
  • Modern Europe

Latin America (LAH)
United States (AMH)

The Dual Major

Students who opt for the dual major declare two major fields taking at least 12 credit hours in one field and at least 12 credit hours in a second. Students who pursue the dual major option will not do a departmental minor field.

Students who declare a dual major field will be allowed to create their major fields in one of three ways:

Option 1: by creating a dual major from parts of two major fields (for example, a student interested in European colonialism could declare a major field in African History and another in Modern Europe), or

Option 2: by combining parts of one major field (such as the Spanish American Track from Latin American History) with an expanded version of a thematic minor field like Gender, Legal History, or Atlantic World, or

Option 3: by expanding and combining two thematic minor fields (for example, by having a dual major that is made of fields in Gender and in Atlantic World history).

Note: Students who have taken their field exams prior to Fall 2013 may not shift to a dual major.

Students interested in a dual major at the time of admission are encouraged to indicate the two areas of study they wish to combine during their time in the program and should list faculty with whom they hope to work in their applications.  The files of those students who indicate an interest in a dual major will be reviewed by faculty who teach in the relevant areas, and should be endorsed by at least one faculty member from each area.Students who wish to do a dual major after admission to the program should petition the graduate coordinator for permission to pursue the dual major option.  The petition should include:

  • an indication of the two areas of study making up the dual major (this summary should end with an explanation of why the two fields fit together),
  • a list of courses taken (or proposed) to fulfill the credit requirements, and
  • the endorsement of two members of the faculty, one from each of the student’s proposed major fields. With this endorsement, the faculty members agree they will work together with the student toward completion of the two fields.

In the case of students already in the program who are petitioning to be allowed to do a dual major, the petition must be reviewed and approved by the graduate committee.

The Minor Field

Unless they opt for the dual major, all doctoral students must also develop a minor field.  In Qualifying Examinations students are examined on both their major and minor fields. The History Department allows students to tailor Minor Fields to their own particular needs or interests and/or to complement their dissertation research. (All minor fields require at least 9 credits of relevant course work.) Many students will opt to construct a minor field within one of the broad geographic areas. Others may develop a thematic minor field that crosses geographic or chronological boundaries and draws from cross-sectional clusters of strength within the department. Thematic fields include but need not be limited to the following areas, some of which have their own gateway courses or special requirements:

For other possibilities based on areas of strength in our department, see our list of faculty specializations and subfields.  You may also visit the field pages for each major, or contact specific faculty members for more information on minor fields.

General Course and Credit Requirements

A student registered for 9-12 credits per term is considered a full-time student. A typical graduate seminar is 3 credits, and most doctoral students enroll in 3 courses per semester including reading courses, research seminars, trailers, and language courses. For a description of the types of graduate courses offered, see the Graduate Handbook (the most recent edition is here). See also the relevant major field page for a description of the specific seminar and language requirements pertinent to that field.

All history doctoral students, regardless of their major or minor field, must take two required seminars:

1) HIS 6061, Introduction to Historiography, which is taught every year on a rotating basis by different members of the department, in their first year; and

2) the Second-Year Research Seminar in the spring of their second year.

All doctoral students must also take 6 credits of course work outside the history department.

The Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Prospectus

All doctoral students must pass a set of examinations before being admitted to candidacy. These examinations are taken at the end of a student’s formal course work and before full-fledged work on the dissertation begins. Students are examined in both their major and minor fields of study, and the exams include both a written and an oral component. In addition, students must present a dissertation prospectus to their supervisory committee. The oral defense of the prospectus is either combined with the oral portion of the qualifying examination or must be completed within four months of the oral examination. After passing the qualifying exam and prospectus defense, the student is formally admitted into “candidacy” and begins the stage known in the profession as A.B.D., “all but dissertation.”

Stages of the Program

Although there are variations depending on students’ fields of concentration and preparation before beginning their graduate studies at UF (e.g., BA or MA), typically students progress through the doctoral program in three distinct stages:

Years One and Two: Required Coursework (including languages) culminating in Second-Year Seminar

Year Three: Candidacy (the qualifying examination and prospectus defense)

Year Four to Completion: Research, Writing, and Defense of the Dissertation