Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Calendar - 2006/2007
Canadian Excellence

PhD in History

The Tri-University doctoral program is committed to the pursuit of excellence in graduate research and teaching. It prepares candidates for a scholarly career in teaching and research. The PhD field preparations provide a wide intellectual basis for scholarship and teaching and allow reading complementary to a student's proposed area of doctoral research. Field seminar discussions are intended to develop skills in critical analysis and historical synthesis. Through the process of completing required research papers and a doctoral thesis, students acquire the capacity to conduct independent research and to produce written work of a sufficient standard to be acceptable for scholarly publication.

Additional Information
Admission Requirements

All inquiries and applications concerning this program should be addressed to the director, Tri-University Graduate Program in History. All applications requesting financial support for the fall term must be received by the Tri-University Graduate Program in History and be complete by February 1. Successful applicants will begin the PhD program in September. The Tri-University Graduate Program uses a self-administered application process in which the onus is on the applicant to collect and submit all required documentation and material.

Applications are considered by the co-ordinating committee and a recommendation for admission or rejection is forwarded to the dean of Graduate Studies at the proposed home university. Only students who are graduates of accredited universities and colleges are eligible for admission. Students will be admitted only after they have obtained an MA with at least an A- standing. Since not all applicants can be admitted, close attention is paid to samples of applicants' written work, applicants' transcripts and past record as a whole, and to their statement of research interests.

Candidates for admission to the PhD program in history whose chosen area of research requires a language other than English must demonstrate sufficient language skills prior to admission. This is normally the equivalent of the skills acquired in a 200-level university course.

Applicants from outside Canada whose previous education cannot be assessed readily may be required to demonstrate their knowledge by other means such as the Graduate Record Examination. Non-Canadian applicants whose first language is other than French or English are required to submit evidence of proficiency in the English language or pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A net score of at least 600 is required.

Applicants to the program indicate a preference for the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University or the University of Waterloo, depending on where their proposed thesis supervisor is located. Students in the program are governed by the general regulations of the university in which they are registered and their degree is granted by that university. Registration at one university for three degrees (BA, MA, PhD) is discouraged.

Program Requirements

Students are expected to attend the Doctoral Seminar each semester in which they are registered during the residency period. They are required to register for the Doctoral Seminar once, normally towards the end of their residency period. Fulfilment of the requirements of the Doctoral Seminar includes the presentation and defence of a scholarly conference paper.

Second Language

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of French (or other appropriate second language, approved by the co-ordinating committee). For details regarding second language credit and other regulations, students should consult the Tri-University Graduate Program handbook.

The language exam will be offered every fall and winter term and must be passed before the student is allowed to sit the Comprehensive Examination or the Colloquium. Students normally take the language exam by the conclusion of their second term/semester of registration. In the event of failure they must attempt the test every subsequent semester until it is passed or the student decides to withdraw from the program. Failure to comply with this requirement may involve termination of the program or denial of financial assistance.

The same requirement will hold for students whose native language is French except that it will be applied to a reading knowledge of English.

PhD Fields and Areas

Each student is required to demonstrate competency in one major field and two minor areas. The student's advisory committee, in collaboration with the student, will establish the fields to be examined and will select either the comprehensive or colloquium mode of examination. The major field must fall within the following areas of study: Canadian history; early modern European history; modern European history; race, imperialism and slavery; Scottish history.

One minor area must be in an area of study outside the major field. One of the minor areas may be in another discipline. The distinction between a major field and a minor area is determined by the depth and range of reading rather than by its geographical or chronological span. There will be reading lists for the fields and areas which will establish a basic core of readings but allow some flexibility as to overall content in any given year. Each student must receive a detailed written outline of each field or area requirement from the supervisor at the beginning of their field or area preparation. A copy of the field and areas requirements and any changes subsequently agreed thereto must be filed with the tri-university director. The minor areas and major field are designed so that a student can complete the major in two terms and both minors in another two terms.

As a partial fulfilment of their field preparations, students must take a seminar in each of their areas and field. A student will take a seminar in every area or field for which he/she is responsible, even when these seminars contain only one student and amount to a reading course. Each field and area is larger than the seminar and the student is responsible for material beyond the seminar in order to satisfy the field or area requirements.

The program will offer field and area seminars annually in which faculty and graduate students from all three campuses will participate. In cases where students taking a minor area seminar seek a survey coverage of the area, those students will normally be in the same seminar as those taking the major field seminar.

Upon completion of their field and areas, students proceed to either the Comprehensive Examinations or the Colloquium:

The comprehensive mode requires the student to complete one historiographic essay for each field or area seminar, one written examination in each field or area and an oral qualifying examination covering the major field and two minor areas. In some cases, where additional preparation seems necessary, an additional essay may be required. The examination will be drawn up by the supervisor of each field or area and will be approved by the examining committee approximately one week in advance of the examination. There will be a common exam for students in the same field or area at the same time. All three examinations will normally be written within a two-week period by the start of the sixth semester. The examination answers will be marked by the examining committee which will normally comprise the student's doctoral supervisor as well as the instructor(s) of the major field and the two minor areas of concentration. Together they will award a mark in the Major Field (HI704*), the First Minor Area (HI705) and the Second Minor Area (HI706). Following successful completion of the written examinations, the student will proceed, approximately two weeks later, to the Oral Qualifying Examination before the same committee. The committee will assign a mark for the Oral Qualifying Examination (HI701*). A student who fails a field or one or more areas in the Oral Qualifying Exam may attempt them a second time, but will first have to retake the relevant written examination in the field or area(s).

The colloquium mode requires that students complete two essays to be written in each field or area. One of the essays will be the historiographical paper which is submitted as part of seminar requirements. The mark for the field or area will be determined by the two papers, based on 40 percent for the historiographic paper and 60 percent for the second paper. Following the completion of preparations, the student will present an independent research paper on a topic approved by their advisory committee, and will be examined intensively on that topic at an oral defence (HI702*). For students in the colloquium mode the examination will occur in the first month of the seventh semester of the student's registration, except in cases where approval has been given by the co-ordinating committee.

Failure to complete either colloquium or comprehensive examinations within the stipulated time may lead to a suspension of funding support. The examining committee for the colloquium and comprehensive modes will normally be composed of the thesis supervisor and the field supervisors, and will be chaired by the director or designate; at least one of the committee members must be from another campus. Continuation in the program after the oral examination or colloquium requires at least a B+ average, based on all courses taken in the program to that point.

PhD Thesis Requirements

Following successful completion of the colloquium or qualifying examination, the student must complete, under the supervision of a tri-university doctoral program faculty member, an original research project on an advanced topic. Each candidate will be required to write a thesis of such originality and cogency that it would be publishable, in whole or in part, with minor revisions. The thesis should normally be between 50,000 and 90,000 words in length. The regulations and procedures at the university in which the student is enrolled will govern the thesis format and the thesis examination.

Decisions in the PhD Thesis Defence
Five decisions are open to the examining committee:

  • Accepted - Thesis may require typographical and/or minor editorial corrections to be made to the satisfaction of the supervisor.
  • Accepted with modifications - Thesis requires minor changes in substance or major editorial changes which are to be made to the satisfaction of members of the examining committee designated by the committee.  The examining committee's report must include a brief outline of the nature of the changes required and must indicate the time by which the changes should be completed.  Normally such changes should be completed within four weeks of the date of the examination.
  • Accepted conditionally - Thesis requires more substantive changes, but will be acceptable when these changes are made to the satisfaction of those members of the examining committee designated by the committee.  The examining committee's report must include a brief outline of the nature of the changes required, and the date by which the changes are to be completed.
  • Decision deferred - Thesis requires modifications of a substantial nature, the need for which makes the acceptability of the thesis questionable.  The examining committee's report must contain a brief outline of the modifications expected and should indicate the time by which the changes are to be completed.  The revised thesis must be resubmitted for re-examination.  Normally, the re-examination will follow the same procedures as for the initial submission except that the display period may be reduced or eliminated at the discretion of the appropriate graduate dean.  Normally the same examining committee will serve.  A decision to defer is open only once for each candidate.
  • Rejected - Thesis is rejected.  The examining committee shall report the reasons for rejection.  A student whose doctoral thesis has been rejected is required to withdraw from the PhD program.
  • If the examining committee is not prepared to reach a decision at the time of the thesis defence, it is the responsibility of the chair to determine what additional information is required by the committee to reach a decision, to arrange to obtain this information for the committee, and to call another meeting of the committee as soon as the required information is available.  It is also the responsibility of the chair to inform the candidate about the delay.