Graduate Degree Programs
The University of Georgia program in History offers a degree of Master of Arts and a degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Many MA students choose a "terminal" degree, providing them with experience in scholarly research, writing a thesis, and post-secondary teaching that prepares them either for further graduate study or for a career in secondary education, government, or the private sector. Recipients of the PhD from the University of Georgia have an excellent track record of placement in college and university faculty positions, although history doctorates have also chosen to pursue non-academic career paths in law, government, education, business, or non-governmental organizations.
The formal requirements for attaining a Master of Arts or a Doctor of Philosophy degree in History are detailed in the Guidebook. Accepted and current students should regularly consult this Guidebook when plotting a program of study. The Guidebook contains important information on specific course and writing and language and exam requirements, major and minor fields of study, and timelines for completing the degree. All students develop a tailored plan of study, in consultation with their major advisor, according to the regulations of the Department (as outlined in the Guidebook) and of the UGA Graduate School.
The following brief summary of the requirements for the MA and PhD degrees are meant only as a rough guide for prospective students, and should not be taken as formal statements of degree requirements. Formal departmental requirements are presented in the Guidebook; all departmental requirements are in addition to any UGA Graduate School requirements for the Master of Arts degree or Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Master of Arts in History
Masters students in History at the University of Georgia complete a minimum of 30 semester-hours (ten 3-hour graduate courses) of coursework, in residence for at least two semesters (which need not be consecutive). In consultation with their major advisor, a thesis advisory committee (consisting of the major professor as chair and two additional members), and the Coordinator of Instruction, Masters students develop a formal program of study according to the department guidelines. Coursework prepares students in mastery of specific major and minor fields of study, in the theory and practice of history, and in historical research. Masters students must also demonstrate facility with a foreign language applicable to research in their fields, either by passing a language exam or by earning a grade of B or higher in an approved UGA language course. Masters students earn a terminal degree by completing and defending an original thesis, which demonstrates a critical capacity for historical research and meets professional standards for scholarship and writing.
Doctor of Philosophy in History
Doctoral students in History at the University of Georgia complete a minimum of 30 semester-hours (ten 3-hour graduate courses) of coursework, with at least two consecutive semesters of full-time study spent in residence. The Ph.D. program further requires a minimum of three full years of study beyond the bachelor's degree. In consultation with their advisory committee (consisting of the major professor as chair and two additional members who are appointed to the Graduate Faculty), doctoral students develop a formal program of study according to the department guidelines. Coursework includes colloquia and seminars in the students' major, minor, and related fields of interest, and prepares students in mastery of the theories and methodologies of history, in historical research, in teaching at the post-secondary level, and introduces students to historical and historiographical issues in multiple fields of historical study. In their second year of doctoral study, all students are evaluated on their progress within the doctoral program; students must pass this evaluation to continue their doctoral studies. Typically, students complete required coursework within three years. Within two semesters of completing all required coursework (except HIST 8001 and Research Skills courses), doctoral students schedule comprehensive exams with their advisory committee. The formal, comprehensive, written and oral examinations test students on their mastery of one major field, two minor fields, and one topical field. Passing the examinations entitles students to formal candidacy for the Ph.D.; many students begin slangily referring to themselves as "ABD" (All But Dissertation or All But Degree) at this point in their studies. Upon passing the examinations, doctoral students have one semester to form a dissertation reading committee (which is often, but not always, composed of members of the student's advisory committee) and submit a dissertation proposal; this proposal will be discussed by the student and the committee to determine its scholarly value and research feasibility. This is often called a proposal "defense," but the discussion is intended to provide constructive criticism to the student in shaping a long-term research and writing plan to complete a satisfactorily original and analytically impressive dissertation in a reasonable amount of time. Upon formal approval of the dissertation proposal, the doctoral student independently researches, writes, and orally defends a dissertation in consultation with her or his dissertation reading committee. The dissertation must be completed within five years of passing the comprehensive examinations, and is typically completed within three or four years. A completed and approved dissertation demonstrates a critical capacity for independent research in primary and secondary sources, contributes to historical knowledge, and reveals qualities of insight and sound judgment in interpreting historical documents--and, of course, entitles the dissertator to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History.