Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Calendar - 2007/2008
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

The  program is designed to be completed in four years, as follows:

Fall Term
Winter Term
Spring Term
Year 1

Major Field Seminar (HI710-719)
Two Minor Field Seminars (HI759-771)

Major Field Seminar (HI710-719)
Two Minor Field Seminars (HI759-771)
Major Field Seminar (HI710-719)
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4

Professional Development Seminar (HI700)

All doctoral students must attend the professional development seminar in their first year of the program. The seminar is designed to prepare students for success as PhD students and for their future careers. A pass/fail grade will be assigned for the seminar. For details regarding the Professional Development Seminar, students should consult the Tri-University Graduate Program handbook.

Second Language (HI703)

If no specific language is required for the studentís research (as authorized by the studentís advisory committee), the second language will be French. The determination of the second language will be made by the studentís advisory committee in the first term of the studentís registration in the program. The language exam will be offered every fall and winter term and it is expected that a student will successfully complete the test no later than the 6th term following admission into the program.

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

For details regarding second language credit, students should consult the Tri-University Graduate Program handbook.

PhD Fields

Each student is required to demonstrate competency in one major and two minor areas. In the minor areas, competency is demonstrated by successful completion of two area seminars. In the major field, students must successfully complete a major field seminar (HI710-719) and qualifying written and oral exams (HI704 and HI701). All the major field seminars within the following areas of study are offered each year: Canadian history; early modern European history; modern European history; race, imperialism and slavery; Scottish history; and war and society. The coordinating committee, in collaboration with the student, will establish the minor field seminars appropriate for that student.

The major field is the studentís primary area of concentration; it provides the background and context for thesis research and will, in all likelihood, serve as the area in which graduates apply for academic jobs. The basis of the major field is the major field reading list. Students are examined on their knowledge of their field list through a seminar and a major field qualifying exam (HI701). These two components of the major field will each be graded separately.

The major field reading list will consist of the equivalent of 100 books, approximately half of which will be read in the major field seminar and half by students independently. The major field seminar (HI710-719) must be successfully completed in the first year of the studentís program. The major field qualifying exams are normally taken at the beginning of the studentsí fourth term in the program. In the major field qualifying exams students will be examined on their knowledge of the entire major field reading list. The exam will consist of a written portion (HI704) and an oral portion (HI701) with a separate grade assigned for each part. The oral portion of the exam will normally be held within two weeks of the successful completion of the written portion. Students may not complete the oral portion if they fail to pass the written, but they must pass the oral to successfully complete the examination process.

The minor areas represent the secondary areas of concentration; they are intended to provide students with a supplementary teaching area and a comparative understanding of works in their dissertation research area. These two goals may be combined in each minor area course or the director, in consultation with the student, the thesis advisor and the seminar instructors, may coordinate a program in which one area is primarily geared towards a second teaching area and the other towards developing an understanding of the studentsí primary research areas beyond their major field. The reading list for each minor area seminar (HI759-771) will consist of the equivalent of 50 books. The minor area seminars are normally completed during the first two terms of the studentís program, however, students may choose to take their minor area seminars in their fourth and fifth terms.
For details regarding field and area requirements, students should consult the Tri-University Graduate Program handbook.

The Thesis Proposal (HI707)

All doctoral students will present a thesis proposal of no more than 2000 words including citations by the end of the fall or winter term (whichever comes first) following the completion of their three fields. The student will be examined orally on the proposal by the advisory committee within four weeks of submission of the proposal to the director and a pass/fail grade will be assigned.

The Colloquium (HI708)

The colloquium is a public presentation of a chapter, significant portion, or summary of the studentís thesis. In exceptional circumstances, the advisory committee may also approve the presentation of a paper on another topic. The colloquium paper will be presented within three terms of the completion of the thesis proposal. A grade of pass/fail will be assigned for the colloquium. For details regarding the colloquium, students should consult the Tri-University Graduate Program handbook.

PhD Thesis Requirements (HI799)

Following successful completion of all other requirements, the student must complete, under the supervision of a tri-university doctoral program faculty member, an original research project on an advanced topic. Each student will be required to write and successfully defend a thesis of such cogency and originality as will represent a significant contribution to knowledge. The thesis will 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.