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If students have completed their MA degrees at UNC–CH, their candidacy for the PhD entails the completion of forty‑two credit hours (exclusive of language courses); these credit hours build from a base of twenty‑seven hours carried forward from the MA program, to which are added fifteen hours of work at the doctoral level. Students who first enter the UNC–CH program at the doctoral level must secure UNC–CH acceptance of their MA (this entails the adviser reading and approving the thesis, and the DGS approving the acceptance); then, they must complete a minimum of fifteen hours of coursework at the doctoral level.

For students who pass the MA examination and wish to be considered for admission into the doctoral program (immediately or at a later date), the adviser convenes a meeting with two other faculty who have worked closely with the student. These faculty members are chosen jointly by the student and the adviser. This committee need not be the same as the MA committee, but it is understood that its members will likely serve on the student’s doctoral committee.

For a detailed description of the PhD Requirements, please consult the Graduate Student Handbook


PhD students must observe the following course of study: Hist 905 (Dissertation Design); one Field/Topical or Thematic 900-level research seminar; two courses in a minor field preferably at the 700 level or above in consultation with the student’s adviser; and Hist 994 (Doctoral Dissertation). Students register for H 994 once they have passed their comprehensive exams and prospectus defense. Courses may not be double counted to fulfill these requirements.


The language requirements can be met by (1) minimal proficiency in two foreign languages; (2) advanced proficiency in one foreign language; (3) minimal proficiency in one foreign language and successful completion of a two-course program designed to develop proficiency in a research skill or theoretical perspective.


The comprehensive exams are to be designed by individual fields with an eye to flexibility, which might include allowing students to schedule their exams and dissertation prospectus defense over the space of two semesters. In any case, all students must have completed their exams and oral defense of the prospectus by the end of their 6th semester (4th semester for students admitted with the MA, as explained below). The oral exam shall be conducted before a committee composed of the student’s adviser and four additional faculty selected by the student in consultation with the adviser. Details about the specific exam requirements by field are available in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Between 12 and 18 months after achieving ABD status, students must schedule and complete a formal progress review with their examining committees. Upon completion, all degree candidates must successfully defend their dissertations before a committee composed of their adviser and four additional faculty members, two of whom may be qualified faculty members from outside the department or university.


The second field requirement is a two‑course requirement designed to broaden the scope of graduate training. Students should consult with advisers on how coursework in the second field can further professional goals either by adding another dimension to an area of specialization or serving as a second teaching field. The second field must add breadth. Please note that the second field must be distinct from the areas covered on a student’s comprehensive examinations—that is, the second field must not be identical to an examination topic, nor a subset of it, nor even largely inclusive of it.

Courses taken to fulfill the requirements for the MA degree may be used for the second field, although such courses (whether completed in this or another graduate program) cannot be applied toward the fifteen credit hours required at the doctoral level. Courses used to fulfill the second field requirement may not be used to fulfill the second language substitution (discussed below).

Admitted Students with MAs

The requirements for students with who enter with an MA (a direct admit to the PhD program) are as follows. Such students have four semesters after your arrival to become ABD. During the second year, students should finish all course work, write their comprehensive exams, complete their language requirements, and defend their dissertation proposal by the end of your fourth semester.