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«_ HISTORY DEPARTMENT PH.D. PROGRAM HANDBOOK FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS 2015-2016 Clark University History Department Graduate Program Handbook for ...»

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Clark University

History Department

Graduate Program

Handbook for Graduate Students 2013-2014


This handbook offers an overview of Clark University’s PhD program in History. For the accelerated degree (fifth-year) M.A. program, a separate brochure is available in the History Department office.

The doctoral program consists of two broad areas:

United States and Atlantic History, with tracks in the history of the United States and in the history of the Atlantic World and Holocaust History and Genocide Studies, with tracks in Holocaust History and in Genocide Studies.

The United States and Atlantic History tracks offer students a range of courses covering a variety of topics pertaining to the history of colonial British North America, the United States, and the Atlantic World. These tracks aim to prepare United States and Atlantic World scholars for careers in academia and museum and archival work.

The Holocaust History and Genocide Studies tracks offer students a range of courses covering a spectrum of topics pertaining to the history of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, genocides and mass violence in other parts of the world, and in comparative genocide research. These tracks aim to prepare Holocaust and genocide scholars for careers in academia, museums, archives as well as government bureaucracies, corporations, and NGOs. The tracks train the next cadre of professors, teachers, Holocaust museum directors and curators, human rights advocates, decision makers and experts about genocide and genocide prevention.

Questions about the graduate areas can be addressed to the appropriate Director of Graduate Studies. For U.S. and Atlantic History: Director of Graduate Studies, History Department, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610. For HHGS: Director of Graduate Studies, Holocaust History and Genocide Studies, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610.


To apply to the Ph.D. Program in History please visit the link below detailing the online application process as well as the application deadlines and requirements.

http://www.clarku.edu/graduate-admissions/apply/requirements/phd-history.cfm Applicants are encouraged to set up a visit. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) may also take the initiative to conduct on-campus or telephone interviews of applicants. Interviews typically occur after the application is submitted and before admission decisions are made.

_____ It is the policy of Clark University that each individual, regardless of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, or handicap, shall have equal opportunity in education, employment, or services of Clark University. The University encourages minorities, women, veterans, the handicapped, and persons 40 years and older to apply.


Orientation In the week prior to the start of the fall semester, there will be an orientation to familiarize incoming Ph.D. students with Clark University and the History Department or the Strassler Center.

Adviser In the U.S. History and Atlantic History tracks, the DGS will initially assign you to a faculty adviser whose scholarly interests lie in the same broad field of historical studies as yours. This adviser will help you chart your course of study. You may change advisers, should the need arise, by notifying the former adviser and receiving permission from the new one.

In the Holocaust History and Genocide Studies tracks, the DGS will serve as your faculty adviser during your first year in the program. By the last day of classes of the first year, you are required to secure the agreement of a Center faculty member to serve as your primary adviser, who will direct your thesis.


1. The Graduate School Office or the Registrar’s Office will send you information on registration and other matters before you arrive at Clark University.

2. You should meet as soon as possible with the DGS and your faculty adviser in order to discuss your program generally and to choose classes for the coming semester. For first-year students and incoming second-year students, this consultation will include a discussion of the language requirement and the choice of fields.

3. All Ph.D. students must take at least one research course per semester for their first two years.

Graduate students may also take individual reading courses and upper division undergraduate courses as needed for their fields.

4. Matriculating Ph.D. students will be able to register for courses only after meeting with their adviser. Registration is on-line.

Policies and Requirements Student Status Graduate students may have either “resident” or “nonresident” status. This status is decided on a semester-by-semester basis after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.

Resident status is for students who are registered for one or more courses at Clark during a semester, including directed study courses.

Nonresident status is for students who have completed all of their course work. Typically, nonresident students are writing their dissertations with only occasional use of Clark facilities. Thus, it is unlikely that nonresident students will register for courses again.

Please note: Nonresident status is limited to a total of three (3) years full time. For this purpose, part-time nonresident students are considered to be half time, and thus their nonresident status may last no longer than six (6) years total. Students exceeding this will no longer be enrolled in the Ph.D program.

To receive nonresident status, student must apply to their department. It is the student’s responsibility to register and pay the required fees each semester.

Course Work The first two years of the program are dedicated to coursework. Students in U.S. and Atlantic History may petition to have a previous MA in History applied toward their coursework. The aim of course work is to expose students to a variety of historical fields, to hone their analytical skills in reading and research through intense scrutiny of the relevant scholarship, to provide a foundation for the students’ fields, and to teach them to do independent research. It is expected that full-time students will do substantial reading on their own in their fields, above and beyond what is assigned in class.

This reading may be done over the summer, or during the semester in self-organized study groups.

Students in all tracks must take twelve courses at the graduate level to qualify for the Ph.D. At least nine of these must be in the History Department, and at least two must be from one department outside the History Department at the graduate level. Students need to secure approval for their two “outside” courses from their faculty adviser. At least four of the twelve courses should be research seminars or directed research. Each of the four units must result in its own substantial written work of professional quality. At least two of these courses must result in article length (25pages plus notes) research essays. Holocaust History students are required to take two courses in genocide studies and Genocide Studies students are required to take two courses in Holocaust history.

The typical full-time course load is three courses per semester, one of which is a research course.

Students may petition for a heavier course load under exceptional circumstances.

Grades Instructors have the option of grading by letter or by pass-fail grades. Only courses in which a student receives a “B” or better, or a pass (assuming at least a B performance), may count for graduate credit.

Language requirement(s) United States and Atlantic History students are required to demonstrate competency in one foreign language, appropriate to their future research. Competence must be demonstrated in a written translation exam administered by a Clark faculty member.

Holocaust History and Genocide Studies students are required to demonstrate competency in two foreign languages, preferably those appropriate to their future research, in written translation exams administered by the DGS and evaluated by an outside professor of the language on which the student is tested. The first of the two exams needs to be taken no later than at the start of the second year; the second exam no later than at the start of the third year.

All language requirements must be satisfied before the comprehensive exam is scheduled.

Residence requirement Students are required to remain in residence two years. While the Holocaust History and Genocide Studies track does not admit part-time students, the U.S. and Atlantic History track offers this option in exceptional cases. Under these circumstances, students must work out with the Graduate Director an individual arrangement keyed to their rate of progress.

First and Second Year Reviews Good communication at the right time and a sense of progress are crucial to success in graduate school. The evaluation procedures are geared to that end.

Students in the U.S. and Atlantic History program take an oral exam at the end of the first year, based on the year’s course work. Following the exam is a review, in which the faculty adviser will determine, based on the exam as well as evaluations from all faculty with whom the student has studied (as solicited by the Graduate Director prior to the exam), whether the student may proceed in the program. That decision is conveyed to the student in writing no later than June 1. If necessary, the student will undergo a second review at the end of the second year, with either his/her adviser or the Graduate Director. A satisfactory annual review is required before the student can proceed.

Students in the Holocaust History and Genocide Studies track will meet with their faculty adviser at the end of the first year in order to discuss the student’s progress. At this meeting, they go over the student’s review. This review is based on evaluations from faculty with whom the student has studied. The faculty adviser solicits these evaluations and writes a redacted evaluation. A satisfactory review is necessary for the student to proceed. This process is repeated after the second year.

A student is expected to take the initiative in scheduling these meetings at the appropriate time.

Dissertation Director During, but no later than the last day of classes of the first year, each student must secure the agreement of a faculty member within his or her program to serve as his or her dissertation director (primary dissertation adviser).

Comprehensive Examination The function of the comprehensive exam is to prepare the student to teach in fields beyond her/his dissertation topic, to participate intelligently in ongoing discussions in these fields, and to provide a broad background for research. Fields are broadly conceived chronologically, geographically, or topically.

Each student is responsible for preparing three fields.

In the U.S. History track, the major field is American history (pre-Columbian to the present). A special field is a field within the major field. Usually it is the field in which the student plans to write his or her dissertation (for example, diplomatic history, social history, women’s history, intellectual history, or the history of a specific period). The minor field is in History but outside the major and special fields; this field would be outside U.S. History In the Atlantic World track, the major field is the History of the Atlantic World. The special field is within the major field and reflects the student’s dissertation interests (e.g. Caribbean history); and the minor field is outside the major and special fields (e.g. Early Modern Europe or Early American history).

In the Holocaust History track, the three fields are (1) Modern European History from the Enlightenment to the present; (2) the History of the Holocaust; and (3) a field specifically designed around the candidate’s research interests and tailored to his or her dissertation proposal.

In the Genocide Studies track, the three fields are (1) Genocide Studies; (2) the history of the region relevant to the student’s dissertation project; (3) a field specifically designed around the candidate’s research interests and tailored to his or her dissertation proposal.

Students must consult with their primary adviser on the mix of fields and specialties. The adviser must approve the field choices.

The field examination aims to ascertain whether the student has achieved a grasp of the field as a whole and ─ by examining the student’s capacity to integrate material and develop a coherent sense of the field- ─ whether he or she has begun to develop his/her own interpretation of it. The examination also tests the student’s understanding of the relevant historians’ interpretations.

Students should be able to answer exam questions with some detailed examples of events, patterns, or circumstances to bolster their case and an explanation of the arguments other historians have brought to bear on the issue.

All field exams are oral examinations of one hour per field, and students are examined in the three fields at the same time (in one 3-hour block). Ideally, students must pass this examination no later than the last day of classes of their third year in the program.

Students are responsible for arranging their examination committee. In United States and Atlantic History, the committee is comprised of three professors in the student’s major field of study, including the dissertation adviser, and one professor in the minor field. In Holocaust History and Genocide Studies the committee is made up of professors in each of the three fields. The examination committee can be but does not need to be the same as the dissertation committee.

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