Jul 18, 2024  
2013-14 Graduate Catalog 
2013-14 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public History, Ph.D.

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Pippa Holloway, Program Director
(615) 904-8149

The History Department  offers the Master of Arts in History, Master of Arts in History with a concentration in Public History, and a Ph.D. in Public History.

For the most current information about the program, department policies, and admission standards, please visit the department website at www.mtsu.edu/history.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public History program requires

  1. an earned master’s degree from an accredited university or college.
  2. completion of at least 18 semester hours of undergraduate history credit or a minimum of 21 semester hours of graduate history credit. Applicants who do not meet these minimums and are admitted conditionally have one year to satisfy the conditions of admission.
  3. an acceptable grade point average (GPA) in master’s degree work (and an acceptable GPA in undergraduate history classes).

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Application deadline for the Ph.D.: February 15 for Fall admission; September 15 for Spring admission.

Applicant must

  1. submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php);
  2. submit official transcripts of all previous college work;
  3. submit letters of recommendation from at least three public history professionals or academics that address the candidate’s potential for successfully completing a Ph.D. in Public History and describe the qualities that will make him/her an excellent public historian;
  4. submit an approximately 500-word letter of intent noting why he/she wishes to pursue a Ph.D. in Public History, why he/she wishes to do so at Middle Tennessee State University, and career goals after a Ph.D. in Public History is attained;
  5. submit a professional portfolio containing work that demonstrates mastery of research methods, historical analysis, interpretation, and presentation. The portfolio may include research papers, projects, publications, proposals, exhibits, and other public history-related work.

Degree Requirements

 Once admitted to the program, each candidate must

  1. complete 60 hours of graduate history courses, all at the 6000 and 7000 level, with a minimum of 42 hours at the 7000 level (see Curriculum section below for specifics);
  2. fulfill a research skill-set requirement by choosing one of the following options:
    1. demonstrate a reading competency in a foreign language by passing the specific reading examination administered by the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department; or
    2. in consultation with their advisors, students can elect an alternative research skill, such as oral history techniques, linguistic analysis, quantitative analysis, GIS, feminist methods, historical theory (general or particular, such as Marxist or postmodern), computer science for history, information technology to develop websites, or other techniques. Students, with their advisor’s support, then petition the Graduate Committee to approve an alternative research skill. Students are responsible for finding appropriate courses and an expert willing to train them and test competency. The Graduate Committee will approve petitions for alternative research skills only if they are directly related to students’ work and if presented before advancement to candidacy. The skill set must be satisfied before the student can take preliminary examinations.
  3. maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree each semester;
  4. develop a residency proposal and identify a professional mentor for the professional residency colloquium;
  5. take and pass written and oral preliminary exams in the history field. The written exam is based on coursework and a substantial history field reading list, which is developed by both the student and the history field advisor. As part of the oral exam, the candidate must defend the residency proposal. The written exam is evaluated by the student’s history advisor; the oral exam is evaluated by the student’s pre-dissertation advisory committee.
  6. enroll in the Professional Residency Colloquium for two consecutive semesters and develop a residency portfolio;
  7. constitute a dissertation committee and develop a dissertation prospectus;
  8. orally defend the residency portfolio (which includes a substantial essay evaluating the residency experience) and dissertation proposal;
  9. complete a dissertation and successfully defend it in the final oral examination.

Curriculum: Public History

 All Ph.D. in Public History candidates must complete 60 hours in the following course of study:

Public History Field (12-15 hours)

  • Seminars–Candidates will choose from public history seminars offered by the department according to their areas of specialization

History Field (9-15 hours)

In order to practice effectively in any area of specialization within public history, candidates must have an excellent grasp of historic context. Hence, each candidate will be required to demonstrate mastery in a history field focused chronologically, geographically, or topically. In preparation for qualifying exams and in consultation with the pre-dissertation advisory committee, each candidate will construct a coherent field chosen from the general history seminars offered by the department.

Interdisciplinary Field (9-12 hours)

It is important that candidates understand their practice fields from multiple perspectives. In preparation for qualifying exams, each candidate will design, in consultation with his/her pre-dissertation advisory committee, an interdisciplinary field that will strengthen the public history specialization, potentially completing coursework in history, anthropology, geography, music, economics, English, recreation and leisure, business, and/or other fields as appropriate.

Dissertation (12 hours)


No more than six hours of  HIST 6910 /HIST 6920  or HIST 7910 /HIST 7920  may be counted toward the degree.

Program Notes

Students entering with a Master’s in History and extensive, recent, professional experience may have up to 12 credit hours applied after a determination that the content of previous courses and the nature of recent professional activities meet the student learning outcomes for graduate courses in history.

An approved “Advancement to Candidacy” form listing the members of the candidate’s doctoral committee must be filed with the College of Graduate Studies upon successful completion of the written and oral preliminary examination.

Candidate must

  1. file a degree plan with the College of Graduate Studies prior to the completion of 30 semester hours;
  2. file a Notice of Intent to Graduate form in the College of Graduate Studies within the first two weeks of the term in which candidate intends to graduate.

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