History

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The Department of History offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Research Facilities

Morris Library on the campus is the fourth largest library in Illinois. Housed in a modern seven-story building, it contains more than two million volumes. Morris Library acquires current scholarly publications not only from United States but also from Latin America and European publishers. The long-term use of highly specialized materials is afforded by the affiliation of Morris Library with the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago.

The holdings in history and related areas amount to more than 500,000 volumes. To these must be added 20,000 reels of microfilm containing printed secondary works and 6,000 volumes of printed source material and 30,000 volumes of early American imprints prior to 1800 on microtext. Among the materials in the process of acquisition is a microtext edition of all newspapers published in the United States prior to 1820.

The library also possesses substantial holdings in the form of microfilm editions of presidential papers, dispatches and instructions of the state department since 1789, massive holdings in consular records, and the Adams family papers. The library has been a complete repository of United States government documents since 1954 and holds a large collection of earlier documents, including a virtually complete Congressional set.

Following the acquisition of the 7,000-volume library of Jose Morgrovejo Carrion of Ecuador in 1960, the library has systematically expanded its holdings in Latin American history, government, literature, and anthropology. The papers of Francisco Vásquez Gómez, Mexican political leader (1907–1919), Peruvian diplomat and business tycoon, Federic Barreda and Samuel Putnam, American expert on Latin American affairs, provide rich research opportunities. Extensive files of serial publications from Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Cuba, and Mexico also contain diverse sources for investigation. Many of the above materials are unavailable elsewhere in the United States.

Holdings in European history include the standard documentary publications, as well as scholarly serials and journals. The materials to support research are strongest in modern German and English history.

Admission

Graduate work in history is offered at both the master’s and the doctoral levels. Admission to programs administered by the Department of History must be approved by the department, with approval dependent upon the preparation, ability, and promise of the individual student.

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in History. Applicants must pay this fee by credit card.

M.A.: for the Master of Arts degree major in history, applicants are expected to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Applicants with GPAs of below 3.00 may be granted conditional admission. Applicants must also provide three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement in which the applicant expresses professional goals. Conditional admittances must earn a 3.00 GPA in graduate coursework in the first semester. The department reserves the right to terminate from the history program a student who does not establish and maintain a 3.00 GPA in history courses.

Ph.D.: for admission to the doctoral program, each applicant should submit to the department, in addition to the material required by the Graduate School, the following: three letters from former teachers, preferably at the graduate level; a letter in which the applicant expresses professional goals and a writing sample.

In rare instances, accelerated entry into the Ph.D. program is possible for exceptionally qualified M.A. students who have made an early commitment to doctoral study. Such students may petition after two semesters in the M.A. program for accelerated entry. The petitioner must demonstrate the ability to perform at the Ph.D. level. This includes a GPA of at least 3.7 (A = 4.0) in graduate history courses, exemplary letters from SIU professors, and the submission of a seminar paper or published article for evaluation by the Graduate Studies Committee. The student must have completed one colloquium or seminar, HIST 500, HIST 501 and the research tool required for the M.A. Upon approval, the History Department will recommend to the Graduate Dean direct admission to the Ph.D. program. Direct entry into the Ph.D. program from baccalaureate studies is possible for students of exceptional ability. This can be demonstrated through extensive undergraduate course work of superior quality, proficiency in research tools, previous research experience, and letters of recommendation. Students who have taken course work after the undergraduate degree may not petition for direct entry. Upon approval of the petition, the Department of History will recommend to the Graduate Dean direct admission into the Ph.D. program.

Assistantships and Fellowships

Fellowships and teaching assistantships are available to qualified graduate students. All carry stipends and remission of tuition. Application for these awards should be submitted by January 10 in order to be considered for the following academic year.

Additional information concerning rules governing the graduate program in history may be obtained by writing to the director of graduate studies, Department of History.

M.A. in History, Thesis Track

The thesis track should be selected by those students who plan to continue on for a doctoral degree in history, either at SIU or elsewhere. The thesis track provides students with the necessary historiographical and methodological skills to complete a significant, original research project, and to be prepared for the rigors of a Ph.D. program. The decision to opt for the thesis track ought to be made in consultation with the student’s assigned advisor and/or the director of graduate studies during the first semester of the first year of the M.A. The thesis track M.A. consists of 33 credit hours of coursework (including six thesis hours), the completion of a research tool (usually proficiency in a foreign language), and the writing and oral defense of a thesis. A sample program of study for the thesis track is below:

M.A. in History, Thesis Track

Year 1
Semester 1 Courses Semester 2 Courses
HIST 500 (3 credits) HIST 501 (4 credits)
Colloquium or Seminar (4 credits) Colloquium or Seminar (4 credits)
Research Tool (3 credits) Research Tool (3 credits)

Total credit hours: 10

Total credit hours: 11


Thesis track students should, in consultation with their advisor, select elective History courses, (400-level, or HIST 490 / HIST 590 independent readings courses) or courses outside the History program (400-level or higher) on topics or themes that will support or complement their thesis research and writing. A maximum of 10 credit hours of 400 level course work and/or coursework external to the History Department will count toward the required 33 hours. Thesis students are highly encouraged to complete their research tool in their first year. 

M.A. in History, Thesis Track

Year 2
Semester 1 Courses Semester 2 Courses
HIST 599 (thesis - 3 credits) HIST 599 (thesis - 3 credits)
Elective (3 credits) Elective/Colloquium or Seminar (3-4 credits)
Elective/Colloquium or Seminar (3 credits)

Total credit hours: 9

Total credit hours: 6-7


In consultation with their advisor, a thesis track M.A. student should begin the research for his/her thesis in the spring or summer of the first year in the program, ideally enrolling in a readings (HIST 490 / HIST 590) course with their advisor for an introductory survey of historiography and pertinent issues in their field of interest. Research and writing of the thesis continue in the fall, so that the thesis is ready for distribution to the thesis committee (three faculty, at least two of whom are full-time faculty in the History Department) in the early spring (prior to March 1) of Year 2. The defense of the thesis will be an oral defense, during which the examining faculty will consider the content, methodology, conclusions, style, and historiography of the work, and ask the student to place his/her work within the larger context of his/her program of study, including the historiography of the thesis’s field and especially HIST 500 and HIST 501.

M.A. in History, Two Research Paper Track

The two paper track should be selected by students who envision careers as high school and community college educators, and those seeking to develop their interests in a historical field. The two paper track requires the completion of 36 credit hours of coursework and the completion of a research tool (usually proficiency in a foreign language, or a nonlanguage option). Rather than a thesis, the capstone activity of the two paper track is the completion of two research papers in conjunction with two seminar courses, and one field exam in the geographical/chronological area of the student’s choice. The two paper track should provide students with a basic understanding of historiography and historical methods, give the student some experience in historical research and writing at the graduate level, and provide in-depth knowledge of the history and historiography of their selected area of interest. A sample program of study is below:

M.A. in History, Two Research Paper

Year 1
Semester 1 Courses Semester 2 Courses
HIST 500 (3 credits) HIST 501 (4 credits)
Colloquium 1 or Seminar 1 (4 credits) Colloquium 1 or Seminar 1 (4 credits)
Research Tool (3 credits) Research Tool (3 credits)

Total credit hours: 10

Total credit hours: 11


Two paper track students should, in consultation with their advisor, select elective History courses, (400-level, or HIST 490 / HIST 590 independent readings courses,  and 2 colloquium/seminar), or courses outside of the History program (400 level or higher) on topics or themes relevant to their interests. A maximum of 10 credit hours of 400 level course work and/or coursework external to the History Department will count toward the required 33 hours. Students are highly encouraged to complete their research tool in their first year. 

M.A. in History, Two Research Paper

Year 2
Semester 1 Courses Semester 2 Courses
Colloquium 2 or Seminar 2 (4 credits) Colloquium 2 or Seminar 2 (4 credits)
Elective (3 credits) Elective (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits) Elective (3 credits)

Total credit hours: 10

Total credit hours: 10


By the spring of their first year, two paper track students should have identified their field of study, and in conjunction with a faculty member who specializes in that field, begun to assemble a reading list of required works for the student’s examination. Students must complete at least one course (500-level colloquium/seminar sequence, 400-level elective or HIST 490 / HIST 590 independent reading) with the faculty member who will oversee their exam field. Students should plan to take this exam either late in semester one or early in semester two of their second year in the program. The examining committee will consist of the field professor, and at least one of the professors who taught the students’ two colloquium/ seminar sequences. The oral defense will consist of discussion of the student’s overall program of study, and include assessment of seminar papers and written responses to the field exam.

Accelerated M.A. Program in History

Students already on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in History at SIU will be eligible to start the preliminary phase of the accelerated M.A. curriculum if they have earned a cumulative 3.20 GPA by the end of the Spring semester of their junior year and received departmental approval to take HIST 500 and HIST 501 during their senior year. Qualified students can initiate the approval process by submitting a written statement to the Chair of the History Department and the Director of Graduate Studies in History expressing their interest in the accelerated M.A. program and requesting permission to begin the curriculum. Approval to begin the accelerated M.A. curriculum does not guarantee admission to the graduate program, though it is required as a preliminary step toward completing the accelerated M.A. program. Students approved to begin the accelerated M.A. curriculum during their senior year must also apply to the two-year M.A. program and satisfy the usual deadlines and requirements for admission to the two-year M.A. program for the following academic year in order to be formally admitted into the accelerated M.A. program as a graduate student eligible to earn a Master’s degree. Additionally, all requirements for completing the accelerated M.A. program are the same for completing the two-year M.A. program. Students who begin the accelerated M.A. curriculum while finishing the undergraduate curriculum must complete the undergraduate curriculum and graduate from SIU before entering the graduate program as graduate students.

Approval to begin the accelerated M.A. curriculum includes the completion of a memorandum of interest (MOI) that indicates the agreement of the student to complete HIST 500 (The Historian’s Craft - 3 hours), HIST 501 (Recent Historiography - 4 hours), and HIST 490 (Special Readings in History - 2 hours with the anticipated graduate faculty advisor of the student to begin research for the thesis) during the senior year. Enrollment in HIST 500 and HIST 501 requires approval from the department and the Graduate School following the procedure indicated in the “Request for 500-Level Course by an Undergraduate” form. The 9 credit hours earned for these courses count toward the bachelor’s degree when completed. The same 9 credit hours from HIST 500, HIST 501, and HIST 490 will count toward the M.A. degree once the student has been formally admitted to the graduate program following the completion of the B.A./B.S. in History. The MOI with the signatures of the student, the Chair of the History Department, and the Director of Graduate Studies in History will be sent to the Graduate School for approval.

Once admitted to the graduate program, students in the accelerated M.A. program complete the established requirements for either the thesis-track M.A. or non-thesis M.A., depending on which track the student pursues. Students following the thesis track are encouraged, but not required, to complete one colloquium and research seminar combination as part of their coursework. Students following the non-thesis track must complete two colloquium and research seminar combinations to produce the two required research papers. In addition to transferring 9 hours in HIST 500, HIST 501, and HIST 490 from their undergraduate studies, accelerated M.A. students must complete 24 graduate-level credit hours in two semesters to finish the degree in one additional year.

Accelerated MA Program

Accelerated M.A. Program in History
Semester 1 Courses Semester 2 Courses
Colloquium 1 or Seminar 1 (4 credits) Colloquium 1 or Seminar 1 (4 credits)
Colloquium 2 or Seminar 2 (4 credits) or HIST 599 (3 credits) Colloquium 2 or Seminar 2 (4 credits) or HIST 599 (3 credits)
Electives/Research Tool (4-5 credits) Electives/Research Tool (4-5 credits)

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

A student seeking the Ph.D. degree in historical studies must pass preliminary examinations and submit a satisfactory dissertation based on independent and original research. In preparation for preliminary examinations, the doctoral student must complete at least 24 graduate credit hours. These hours must be completed during a period of not more than four calendar years. The courses and hours of credit necessary for a doctoral student to prepare for preliminary examinations will be determined by the student’s advisory committee. All Ph.D. students must include in their 24 hours six 500 level courses (not including HIST 500, HIST 501, or HIST 597) with grades of A or B. The goal is to develop high competence in the selected fields in which the student will be examined. Students are responsible for preparing three fields in which they will be examined. Two of the three fields will be selected from the following list of general fields:

  • United States to 1877
  • United States since 1865
  • Latin America, Colonial
  • Latin America, National
  • Europe, medieval
  • Europe, early modern
  • Europe, modern
  • Britain, modern
  • East Asia, modern
  • Africa and African Diaspora
  • Middle East

The third field is a focused field of study defined in consultation with the student’s examination committee. Examples of focused fields are available on the history department website.

The student’s advisory committee may require the student to take a diagnostic examination. All Ph.D. students must complete at least six hours of graded graduate work in a field outside North America and Western Europe.

Two research tools are required by the Graduate School. At least one research tool must be a foreign language. Information on requirements for two research tools may be found on the department website.

Students may undertake an internship program under the direction of their advisory committees. More specific information is available on file in the department office and on the website. After completing the course work, fulfilling the research tool requirements, passing the preliminary examinations, and presenting an acceptable dissertation prospectus, the student will be recommended for Ph.D. candidacy and will devote full time to the dissertation. Dissertation subjects must be chosen from either United States history, Latin American history, European history, African history, or history of Asia/the Middle East. The final oral examination will cover the field of the dissertation and related matters.

Cooperative Ph.D. Program

The Departments of History at SIU-Carbondale and SIU-Edwardsville have entered into a cooperative Ph.D. program in Historical Studies which enables students to do work on both campuses. Additional information may be obtained at siue.edu/academics/graduate/degrees-and-programs/historical-studies-phd/.

Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

The History department participates in a graduate certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. History graduate students interested in pursuing a certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) should contact the WGSS director and/or cross-listed faculty for the required courses and guidelines. See the Graduate Certificate Requirements for more information. This certificate recognizes the important interdisciplinary nature of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and History.