Jun 16, 2024  
2015-16 Graduate Catalog 
2015-16 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public History, Ph.D.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Degree

Pippa Holloway, Graduate Studies Director
(615) 904-8149
Rebecca Conard, Public History Program Director
(615) 898-2423

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 in history or a related field from an accredited university of college.
  2. completion of at least 18 semester hours of graduate or undergraduate 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 foreign language/professional skill requirement;
    Before filing a degree plan with the College of Graduate Studies, students must elect to satisfy the foreign language/professional skill requirement by choosing one of the following options:
    1. demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language for research purposes by passing the specific proficiency examination administered by the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department;
    2. elect an alternative research or professional skill such as GIS, oral history, quantitative analysis for history, American Sign Language, a specialized area of critical theory, or a professional level of competency in relevant information technology platforms. Students are responsible for finding appropriate courses or an expert willing to train them and test competency. The public history director, graduate director, and major professor all must approve petitions for alternative research or professional skills. Regardless of the option selected, a student will demonstrate proficiency in the professional portfolio.
  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 and interdisciplinary field. The written exams are based on coursework and a substantial reading list developed by both the student and the field advisors. As part of the oral exam, the candidate must defend the residency proposal. The written exams are evaluated by the student’s history advisor and interdisciplinary advisor; the oral exam is evaluated by the student’s dissertation advisory committee.
  6. enroll in the Professional Residency Colloquium for two consecutive semesters and develop a professional portfolio;
  7. constitute a dissertation committee and develop a dissertation proposal;
  8. orally defend the professional portfolio (which includes an essay integrating experience, knowledge, and practice) 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 public history effectively in any area of specialization, students must have an excellent grasp of historical context. Hence, in consultation with the public history director and dissertation advisory committee, each student will construct a history field focused chronologically, geographically, or topically, selecting courses from the history seminars offered by the department. Each student will demonstrate mastery of this field through qualifying exams.

Interdisciplinary Field (9-12 hours)

It is important that students understand public history practice from multiple perspectives. Hence, in consultation with the public history director and dissertation advisory committee, each student will design an interdisciplinary field that complements and strengthens his or her public history specialization, selecting potential graduate courses from history, anthropology, mass communications, recreation and leisure, business, or other departments as appropriate.  Each student will demonstrate mastery of the interdisciplinary field through qualifying exams.

Dissertation (12 hours)


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

No more than nine hours of HIST 6930  or HIST 7930  may be counted toward degree requirements.

No more than six hours of HIST 6994  or HIST 7994  may be counted toward degree requirements.

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.

Candidate must

  1. file a degree plan with the College of Graduate Studies prior to entry into the program;
  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.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Degree