Requirements for PhD in History

 The basic requirements for the Doctorate are specified in the LSU Catalog and Graduate Bulletin. It is the responsibility of each graduate student to be familiar with these stipulations and fulfill them. A minimum of 54 semester hours of coursework and dissertation research are necessary to complete the program, but the plan of coursework depends on the student’s earlier preparation in history. The major requirement is a dissertation “which embodies creative scholarship” and which “must add to the sum of existing knowledge and give evidence of considerable literary skill.” Each student must offer two fields of study: one major field and one minor field.


Major Fields

Those fields offered by the Department are: US History (inclusive), Latin American History, Europe to the Middle Ages, Medieval and Early Modern Europe, European History since 1500, and British History. A major field committee requires at least three members of the graduate faculty, two of whom must be from the Department of History.


Minor Fields 

Each student must complete one minor field that falls outside the scope of the major field. Approval of the selection and scope of the field will be made by the student’s major professor and minor field professors. Typically, a minor field will require nine hours of coursework. Minor fields may be selected from the list of offered major fields, from Asian History, or an approved aspect or period thereof. Minor fields cannot fall within the same major field. For students concentrating in US history, the minor fields must fall outside the geographic parameters of the US.  Requirements for fulfilling the minor field will be determined by the student’s minor field professor.

Students may elect to take a minor field outside of the department, but only with the permission of their major professor. Requirements for an outside field will be determined by the outside department.


World History Minor

The department also offers a minor field in World History, the requirements for which are as follows:

The minor requires both a set amount of coursework and an examination.



History 7970, Reading Seminar in Comparative History, when offered in the field of World History and approved by the minor’s coordinator.

Students must take two 4000- or 7000 level courses—for a total of 6 hours—in two of the following areas, outside their major field: Africa, East Asia, Latin America, and South Asia. A thematic course that cuts across regions or courses in European or US history with a decisive transnational or global theme may be substituted for one of these, if approved by the coordinator of the minor.



Students in the world history minor need to take a general examination. Recognizing the double goal of this minor, the examination might consist of preparing a syllabus for teaching a world history survey or writing two essays on topics determined by the examination committee and reflecting the research interests of the student in question. The exam will be submitted to a 3-person committee from the World History faculty, who will also conduct an oral exam based on the written assignment.


More detailed information on the World History Minor for Ph.D. students: World History Minor, Requirements and Examination


Course Work and Examinations

Course Work

Students entering the program with a MA from another university will take the basic seminars in their major field. In Ancient/Medieval/Early Modern European History they are: 7908, 7909, and at least 3 seminars numbered between 7915 and 7930. In Modern European and British History they are: 7908, 7909, and at least 4 seminars numbered between 7915 and 7930. In United States history they are: 7904, 7908, 7951, 7952, 7956, 7957, plus two Special Topics seminars (7958 and/or 7959). Students will also have to take courses in their minor fields and may want to take other courses in their major fields. Students who have completed a MA in our department will have already completed these basic seminars.


Doctoral Degree Audit

Before taking general exams for the PhD, each student will prepare, in consultation with his or her committee, a Request for Permission to take the General Exam and Doctoral Degree Audit form (available from the Graduate School website) which specifies requirements for course work and other aspects of the student’s course of study.  When these requirements are completed, the student takes the general examinations.


General Examinations

General examinations will be offered once each semester, in November and April.  Minor field exams may consist of a written exam; in certain cases a minor field may consist only of course work and a written exam will not be given.  Once the minor field exam (or course work) has been completed, the student must take the major field exams the following semester. The major field exam will consist of two six-hour written exams and an oral examination with the student’s committee (which must include at least two members of the graduate faculty) and a representative from the Graduate School. Once the major field examination has been successfully completed, the student becomes a PhD Candidate. By the end of the semester in which the student passes the general exam the student must produce for his or her adviser and the DGS a one-page dissertation prospectus and preliminary curriculum vitae.


Final Examinations

After completing the dissertation, the candidate defends it in an oral examination.  The examining committee consists of the student’s major professor, and at least two other graduate faculty from the Department of History or other departments in the University, and a representative from the Graduate School, in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the LSU Graduate School Bulletin.


Foreign Language Requirement

It is required that all PhD students in British History demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language. PhD students in European History must demonstrate reading proficiency in two foreign languages (for medieval history one of those languages should be Latin). PhD students in U.S. history are encouraged to pursue additional coursework in foreign languages or demonstrate proficiency in skills relevant to their individual research topics. Examples include but are not limited to Geographic Information Systems, Statistics, and Art History. A student’s dissertation director will determine when this requirement has been met.