Department of History

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam and Prospectus Defense

These guidelines will apply to all fields. They do allow for a degree of flexibility and do not include any reference to the content of the exam. Each field also describes what they expect of major and inside minor field examinees for the oral exam as well as specific guidelines for the prospectus. The GAC agrees that these statements should contain no references to numbers of books. Generally speaking the new exam format envisions a process of negotiation and discussion between examiners and examinee to craft an appropriate exam.

Exam Requirements

These are in PDF format.

African Diaspora History
African History
Ancient History
Asian History
British History
Cultural History
Early Modern European History
East European History
Historical Teaching and Practice

History of Gender and Sexuality
Jewish History
Latin American History
Medieval History
Modern European History
Russian History
United States History
World History

The Committee

The exam committee will consist of two or three major field examiners, one or two inside minor field examiners, and one outside minor field examiner. The major and inside minor field members will represent fields from the History Department list; the outside minor examiner will represent a department or program other than History. The outside field representative may, at his or her discretion, waive participation. All examiners must be IU faculty members. The same committee presides over the oral exam and the prospectus defense.

Oral Exam

The oral exam will run for no more than three hours. The major field examiners will have no more than two hours for their part of the exam. The inside and outside minor fields, combined, will have no more than one hour. All convened examiners should participate in the whole of the exam. In conference prior to the exam the examiners should determine the order of the exam and how best to organize the time. The examination will be tape recorded. The examination committee will provide the graduate secretary with written comments describing the student’s performance on the oral examination.

Defense of the Dissertation Prospectus

For the dissertation prospectus the graduate school requires a substantial piece of writing taking the form of a grant proposal. It should explain the potential significance of the proposed dissertation project and place it in historiographical context. It should include a bibliography. Individual fields will provide specific guidelines. The examinee should consult with, at least, his or her primary adviser regarding preparation of the prospectus. The defense should take place between one week and six months following the oral examination at a time when all examiners can participate. No later than one week prior to the defense, the prospectus should be submitted to the graduate secretary and to the examination committee members. The graduate secretary will make available paper copies of the prospectus for whomever is interested. The graduate secretary will make an announcement of the defense to history faculty and graduate students and will make arrangements for a room large enough to accommodate whoever would like to come. The examination committee will provide the graduate secretary with written comments describing the student’s performance on the prospectus defense.

Failed Exams and Defenses

As stated in the University Graduate School Bulletin, students have two chances to pass each part of the qualifying exam. No prospectus defense will be held until the oral exam has been passed. Should the student, having passed the oral exam, fail to produce a prospectus within the allotted time he or she may have to retake the entire exam. Should the student, having passed the oral exam, fail the prospectus defense, he or she will have four more months to successfully defend the prospectus. Should the student fail that second time, the DGS will use his/her discretion in determining whether to terminate the student’s program at that point or make further arrangements. See the “Termination of Enrolment in the Doctoral Program” section of the University Graduate School Bulletin for the department’s overall policy on this issue.