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Department of History
University of Mississippi

Ph.D in History

The Department of History at the University of Mississippi offers programs of graduate study leading to the masters and doctoral degrees. The core of the program is, of course, the faculty, who offer a wide variety of graduate courses in United States and European history, with additional courses available in Latin American, African, Asian, and Middle Eastern history. The department includes faculty members from all over the United States and from Europe, and their interests span the full chronological sweep of American and European history, as well as much of the histories of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. 

The Department of History maintains close relationships with several interdisciplinary programs at the University, including the African-American Studies Program, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sarah Isom Center for Gender Studies. It also engages in many activities to enhance its regular research and teaching programs and to enrich the intellectual lives of its students and faculty. Each year the Department co-sponsors the Porter L. Fortune, Jr. History Symposium. Held every year since 1975, this three-day conference brings well-known scholars to campus to discuss their research and interpretations on various issues, often relating to southern history. Recent symposium topics have included Gender and the Southern Body Politic, the Civil Rights Movement, Religion in Southern History, and the Construction of Racial Slavery in the Atlantic World.

Within the University, the Department of History also has close ties with the John Davis Williams Library, which contains more than 1.7 million volumes and another 300,000 eBooks. Of particular importance to history graduate students are the Mississippi Collection of books and manuscripts pertaining to the state, the Blues Archive, and the depository of federal government documents.

In its masters and doctoral programs, the department emphasizes both rigor and flexibility in designing a course of study to fit the individual interests of each graduate student. The Graduate Advisory Committee administers the program. Each graduate student designs a program of study in consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator and other faculty members of the department. Approximately sixty students from a wide variety of backgrounds are currently pursuing graduate degrees in the department.

Doctor of Philosophy

To gain admission to the doctoral program, an applicant must have earned an M.A. in history or its equivalent and have demonstrated distinct promise of success in advanced graduate study.

Additional course work required beyond the M.A. will include a minimum of 12 hours of work in the major field, at least 6 hours of work in each of two minor fields, and one research seminar. Doctoral students concentrate on a major field in which they must pass oral and written exams and two minor fields in which they must pass written exams. The major fields are:

* Africa
* Atlantic World
* Early Modern Europe
* Modern Europe
* Latin America
* Middle East
* Late Antiquity
* Medieval Europe
* United States History through Reconstruction
* United States History since the Civil War

Minor fields include the ten major fields as well as African-American, East Asian, Gender, Middle East, Southern, and Twentieth-Century World history. Other minor fields inside or outside the department may be selected and designed by the student in consultation with the Graduate Advisory Committee and the student’s dissertation director. Students must have course work outside of their geographical field of expertise. Additionally, a student may pursue a Ph.D. with a concentration in Gender Studies, in conjunction with the Isom Center.

Doctoral students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. This requirement may be met in one of two ways: by attaining a grade of B or higher in a fourth-semester language course (SPAN 211, FR 211, or GERM 211, for example) at the University of Mississippi, or in an equivalent course which has been completed within three calendar years prior to enrollment; by attaining a passing grade on a departmentally administered translation exam. In certain fields, more than one language may be required by the Graduate Advisory Committee. After completing the required coursework and fulfilling the foreign language requirement, a doctoral student must pass final written comprehensive examinations in the major and minor fields and an oral exam in the major field before beginning work on a dissertation.

The student will undertake a dissertation on a topic in one of the major fields by mutual agreement of the student and the dissertation director. The dissertation will be evaluated by a committee consisting of three history faculty members and a member of another department. This committee will administer a final oral examination on the dissertation.

Course Work
Students should pursue a rationally structured course program to be designed on an individual basis in close consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator. Doctoral students who have not previously taken a graduate-level historical methods must do so as part of their course work, and they must also complete a one-hour Professionalization course, at least 3 hours of 700-level research seminar, at least 12 hours of graduate course work in their major field, and at least 6 hours in each of the minor fields for their comprehensive examination. Also, prior to taking their comprehensive examination doctoral students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. All graduate students may, with the approval of the Graduate Program Coordinator, include as part of their program a limited number of graduate courses in other departments.

Financial Aid
The department offers several graduate assistantships every year; each pays as much as $15,000 per year and automatically includes a full tuition scholarship worth about $42,000 a year for out of state students. The assistantships are competitive and based on merit, and all applicants to our program are automatically considered for these assistantships. The Graduate School  has a recruiting fellowship program that promotes inclusivity and academic excellence.  This program may provide stipends and cover tuition.

You can see the program on Graduate School’s financial aid page: A graduate student may combine any of the above awards. The Graduate School also provides, on a competitive basis, Dissertation Fellowships to a limited number of students nearing the completion of their doctoral studies. More information on graduate fellowships and aid may be found at the Graduate School website listed above. Research support for Ph.D students is also available through Travel Funds. Furthermore a variety of summer funding has been available through the College of Liberal Arts and the Graduate School. In 2020-21 fully funded Ph. D. students received an average of $17,700 from UM sources (excluding outside fellowships, scholarships, and financial aid).

Applications for admission to the graduate program are due October 1 for the Spring and December 1 for the Fall. There are not graduate assistantship opportunities available for students admitted to start in the spring, so those looking for funding should apply for a fall start term. Applications can be downloaded or completed at the Graduate School’s websiteApplicants must:

*complete the application form available on the Graduate School’s website,

*ensure that official transcripts of post-secondary study are uploaded to the secure internet portal set up by the Graduate School,

*ensure that three letters of recommendation from people who can speak with authority about their potential as a graduate student in history are uploaded to the secure internet portal set up by the Graduate School,

*upload a statement of purpose that describes their intellectual background and preparation, proposed research plans, and which faculty they are interested in working with, and

*send a sample of their written work via email to the Chair of the Graduate Advisory Committee, Rebecca Marchiel.

The department’s Graduate Advisory Committee makes its decision regarding each application after assessing all of the application materials together, and not by applying any rigid standard or mathematical formula.

Both as a department and individually, the faculty welcomes inquiries from prospective graduate students, and encourages them to visit the campus.

Those interested in learning more about the doctoral program in history at the University of Mississippi are encouraged to consult our Graduate Student Handbook.


Dr. Rebecca MarchielChair, Graduate Advisory Committee
The University of Mississippi
310 Bishop Hall
University, MS 38677-1848
(662) 915-3969  |