Graduate Program Regulations

(Revised October 2010)


A complete application for admission to the graduate program in history consists of the application form itself, transcripts of all previous academic work, and three letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty members or others who can judge an applicant’s potential for advanced study.  JANUARY 15 is the deadline for applicants seeking to begin study in the fall semester;  OCTOBER 15 is the deadline for spring semester admissions. The department’s Graduate Committee makes all decisions regarding admissions.  A master’s applicant normally will have achieved a “B” average (3.0 grade-point average) or better as an undergraduate, with a major or at least a substantial concentration in history.  For admission to the doctoral program, applicants should complete the MA degree, document a record of solid accomplishment at the master’s level, and offer the promise of superior achievement at the doctoral level.  In  determining admission to the graduate program, the Graduate Committee weighs an applicant’s grade-point average, letters of recommendation, writing sample (mandatory for Ph.D. applicants), interest in a field of history for which there is supporting graduate faculty, and degree of previous exposure to history.

In certain cases, the Graduate Committee may recommend conditional or provisional admission. Conditional admission is appropriate for applicants who show evidence of promise despite previous academic performance below what is normally expected for regular admission.  Conditional status normally is removed after completion of the first nine credit hours of course work with a grade of B or better. Provisional admission normally applies to those applicants who show promise but are lacking a key component of their application, such as a late letter of reference.  Once the missing component is received and deemed acceptable, the provision is removed.  Provisional admission also is appropriate for those who have had little or no formal preparation in history but nevertheless show promise of success in the program.  In such a case, provisional status would be removed after the completion of a series of courses specified at the time of admission designed to compensate for the lack of previous exposure to history.

In selecting students for the graduate program in History, the Graduate Committee gives special consideration to students coming from non-traditional academic backgrounds, including those for whom English is not their native language.  Such students will be judged by their interest in scholarship and their potential for graduate work.


The Graduate Coordinator will act as the advisor to all students admitted into the graduate program in History.  Once a student decides upon a field of concentration, the Graduate Coordinator will assist the student in the selection of an appropriate advisor.

Preferably no later than the end of the second semester, each graduate student, in consultation with the major advisor, must work out a PROGRAM OF STUDY and select the remaining members of the Advisory Committee.  Normally, M.A. candidates are advised by three History Department faculty members, while Ph.D. candidates are advised by a five-person committee: three members representing the student’s major field in history, one member from a minor field in history, and one member from a related discipline outside of history.  A student’s Advisory Committee serves as the examining board for all required written and oral examinations.

All changes in major advisors or members of the Advisory Committee are arranged through the Graduate Coordinator and all major advisors are responsible for reporting to the Graduate Coordinator any administrative actions concerning graduate students they advise.


M.A.students, in conjunction with a major advisor, select a) an area of concentration such as American, Canadian, European, or East Asian history, or b) a topic of concentration such as Technology, Environmental, or International history. Students are permitted a maximum of two 550 readings courses and two 400-level courses in their field or topic of concentration.

1.  Thesis Option: Students following this option must complete 30 credit hours of course work. At least 24 credit hours must be taken at the graduate level, including HTY 647, another 600-level seminar, and up to six credit hours of HTY 699 Thesis. See Appendix 2 for the recommended course distribution in different areas of concentration. Students will take at least one 500 or 600-level History course outside of their area or topic of concentration.  After completion of the thesis, the student defends it in an oral examination.

The thesis itself must demonstrate the M.A. candidate’s ability to conduct original research, to organize and analyze historical data, and to write thoughtful and polished historical prose.  It should incorporate information derived from primary sources and illuminate a well-defined historical problem chosen in consultation with the student’s major advisor.  Though a Master’s thesis will rarely provide absolutely new or original information, at least the reasoning should be original.  It should be more substantial than a term paper but considerably less than a book or Ph.D. thesis; 40-80 pages will be an appropriate length in most cases.  The M.A. thesis must conform to the Graduate School’s regulations regarding form and style, and normally it should be completed by the end of the second year or the beginning of the third year of full-time graduate study.

2.  Non-Thesis Option: Students following this option must complete 30 credit hours of course work. At least 24 credit hours must be taken at the graduate level, including HTY 647 and two other 600-level seminars. See Appendix 2 for the recommended course distribution in different areas of concentration. Students will take at least one 500 or 600-level History course outside of their area or topic of concentration. Non-thesis M.A. students, including those enrolled in the “Four-plus-One” M.A. degree program, must pass a comprehensive oral examination on all of the course work constituting their required 30 credits.

Ph.D. students normally will have earned an M.A. degree in History or its equivalent.  However, worthy applicants with M.A. degrees in other fields but with little or no previous training in history may seek provisional admission to the Ph.D. program, in which case they will be asked to complete a series of upper-division undergraduate courses in history before actually beginning their graduate work (a typical provision for someone with no previous training in history might be five upper-division undergraduate courses, of which at least two should be in North American history and at least two in non-North American history).  Students nearing completion of an M.A. in history at the University of Maine who wish to be admitted to the Ph.D. program may apply in writing to the Graduate Coordinator, obtain written recommendations from the members of their M.A. Advisory Committee, and receive the approval of the Graduate Committee. It is also possible to file a new application through the Graduate School.

Assuming regular admission (i.e., with no outstanding provisions), Ph.D. students, in conjunction with a major advisor, select a) an area of concentration such as American or Canadian-American history, or an approved topic of concentration; b) a minor field or area of concentration, such as American, European, East Asian, or Canadian history; and c) a related discipline. Students may choose to focus on topics within the minor history field. Students concentrating in Canadian-American history may not offer American history as their minor field. See Appendix 2 for the recommended course distribution in American and Canadian-American history.

Ph.D. students are required to take at least 15 credit hours of 500 or 600 level courses beyond the M.A. level (or after the removal of any provisions), not including HTY 647 (3 credit hours).  HTY 647 is required of all Ph.D. students unless it or an equivalent was part of their M.A. work.  Students in American history or Canadian-American history must take either HTY 507 or 508 or an equivalent seminar approved by the student’s graduate advisor or the graduate coordinator.  Normally, students will take the course that lies outside their area of dissertation. Normally, students must complete course work in their fields of expertise, at either the graduate or 400 level (maximum of two 400 level courses), with each of their committee members. Ph.D. students will take at least one graduate seminar in the minor field, be expected to demonstrate an ability to teach the survey course(s) in the minor field, and specialize in some depth in a particular period, nation, or type of history within the minor field.  The program of course work is to be determined by the major advisor in consultation with the student.

HTY 550 is a directed readings course arranged between an individual student and professor in order to prepare the student for comprehensive exams, to provide background readings for thesis research, or to allow for the in-depth study of a subject not normally offered in the department.  Credit arranged.

The format and content of HTY 550 are determined through negotiations between the individual professor and student.  After establishing the general topic of the course, the student will compile a bibliography subject to approval and/or modification by the professor.  Professor and student also will agree upon a timetable for regularly scheduled meetings.  HTY 550 will normally include a writing component to be negotiated and agreed upon in writing by the professor and student.  The reading requirements of a 3-credit HTY 550 should be equivalent to readings assigned in a 3-credit 500-level seminar.  The bibliography, writing assignment(s), and timetable will constitute the syllabus for the course and a copy of this syllabus will be placed in the student’s file.

Registration for HTY 550 courses will be approved by the graduate coordinator, only after students have exhausted all courses in the field.


M.A. students will normally spend at least one year in residence. A minimum of twelve credit hours taken as a full-time student will establish residency and can be achieved in the following manners: by the completion of twelve credit hours in one semester or in one summer, or by the completion of a minimum of six credit hours in each of two semesters or six credit hours in each of two summer sessions.

Ph.D. students must be in residence for at least two consecutive academic years beyond the baccalaureate.  Students entering the doctoral program with an M.A. from another university must register for at least one academic year of study at the University of Maine.  Under special circumstances it may be possible for candidates to take course work on other University of Maine System campuses participating in cooperative programs with the University of Maine.


M.A. students must submit a “Program of Study” form and Ph.D. students must submit a “Program of Study and Research” form to the Graduate School by the time they complete their first twelve credit hours or before their third registration, whichever comes first.  A “Request for Change in Program” form should be filed with the Graduate School whenever a student wishes to alter an approved program of study.

A student will apply for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree after completing the comprehensive examination, meeting all other program requirements such as language proficiency and the dissertation prospectus.  The application for candidacy, signed by the student’s advisor and the Graduate Coordinator, normally should be submitted to the Graduate School within one month after successful completion of the dissertation prospectus. All projects utilizing oral histories are included under the Health and Human Services policies governing research on human subjects and therefore subject to Institutional Research Board (IRB) review.  “All graduate students in History who are making use of oral histories or any other research involving human subjects first must seek approval from the IRB.”  Contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs or the Graduate Coordinator for details.


The History Department regards competency in a second language as an important component of a graduate student’s training. Candidates for the doctorate must demonstrate reading proficiency of at least one language other than their native language. Candidates for the master’s degree must demonstrate either similar reading proficiency in one language other than their native language OR proficiency in a research methodology which is relevant to their course of study, and which they acquire as part of their graduate education. Methodological training must be approved by the History Department.

Demonstrating proficiency in one language will suffice for either, or both, the MA and PhD degree language requirement. Training in any additional skills is to be negotiated by the student and their Advisory Committee or Thesis Committee.

Graduate students in history may fulfill the language requirement in one of two ways:

A.  Course work:  Students demonstrate that they have completed an intermediate university-level language course (specifically the second semester of the second year or equivalent) with a B average or better.

B.  Examination:  Students take a test given either by the History Department or the Department of Modern Languages and Classics.  This examination should exhibit the student’s ability to utilize the secondary historical literature written in that language.  Students taking this exam must demonstrate an overall understanding of the author’s interpretation and an adequate grasp of the most fundamental arguments.

Students should determine an appropriate language and requirement option with the assistance of the members of their Advisory Committee.  The Chair of the Advisory Committee will help set an appropriate standard of competency for the student in light of the candidate’s areas of expertise and research interests.  Students and the Chairs of their Advisory Committees should advise the Graduate Coordinator of their decisions in this matter during the first year of graduate study.

G.      GRADES

Graduate students must earn grades of at least B in all courses that are part of the program of study.  No credit will be given for a C grade except in extraordinary cases and then only with the approval of the Department Graduate Committee.  A student who receives more than two grades of C or lower while enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of History will be dropped from the graduate program.  This does not apply to courses taken to fulfill the language requirement.  No graduate student will be allowed to graduate with an incomplete grade.


M.A. students who follow the Non-Thesis Option take an oral comprehensive examination at the end of the semester in which the candidate completes the thirtieth credit hour of required course work; non-Thesis students must demonstrate an ability to integrate material from their various seminar courses and readings in a coherent manner in their oral examinations.  M.A. students who follow the Thesis Option are not required to take a comprehensive examination but must defend their theses in an oral examination–see SECTION J, THESES AND DISSERTATIONS. Ph.D. students take their comprehensive examinations after the completion of their course and language requirements.  Candidates are examined by their five-person Advisory Committee.

The structure and organization of the PhD comprehensive examinations will vary as appropriate for each individual candidate who will construct a reading list with each committee member and coordinate all five exam areas with the committee chair. Successful candidates will demonstrate the breadth of knowledge necessary to effectively teach university-level courses, be able to place their future research area in its broader historical context, and will show a command of the core historiographical developments in their intended area of dissertation specialization.

Given the five-member and five-reading list structure of the PhD committee, the following reflects a standard comprehensive exam structure:

1) major field in History
2) major field in History
3) major field in History
4) minor field in History
5) non-Historical discipline area

The comprehensive examination will normally consist of a written exam in each of four history fields and their historical literature.  The four exams, of four hours each, should be taken within two weeks, with the oral exam to follow within a brief period of time, usually the next week.  The chair of the committee will consult with the faculty members, as well as the student, to determine the form of the exam.

The written exams in American history will focus on the specific fields in American history that the candidate has prepared with each of the advisors.  They will not particularly focus on the material from HTY 507 and 508.  When appropriate, the reading lists for the specific fields may include material from HTY 507 and 508.  The reading lists for each field should be approximately 20-25 books or the equivalent in books and articles.

The exams will be given on the honor system.  Students may use computers, but are not permitted to consult books or notes.  They may have access to a copy of their reading lists.

The larger share of the oral Ph.D. exam will focus primarily on the non-written field, and the remainder will be devoted to the written fields.  The oral exam should last approximately two-and-one-half hours.

The exams will be evaluated in their entirety and by the entire committee.  Students will be told whether they have passed or failed at the completion of all portions of the exam.  Each member of the committee should read each of the written exams and participate in the oral exam.  At the conclusion of the oral exam, the committee will deliberate the outcome.  One member can demand that the student retake any portion of the exam, either oral or written.  If two members are not satisfied with the student’s work, the student will be considered to have failed the entire exam and will be eligible to retake it after a period of six months.  A candidate will have only two opportunities to pass the written and oral comprehensive examinations.


Ph.D. students will submit a dissertation prospectus to their advisory committee within six months of successfully completing their comprehensive exams.  This requirement aims to provide adequate guidance for graduate students writing dissertations, to ensure momentum in a student’s program of study, and to provide students with a working document from which they can develop grant proposals and communicate the contents of their work to the scholarly community at large.

Students should work closely with their advisory committee chairs to develop a prospectus.  In general the prospectus should include a statement of thesis, a discussion of methodology and sources, a review of the relevant secondary literature, a tentative project outline, and a bibliography.  The prospectus should be 8-10 pages (excluding bibliography) and should be typed, double-spaced with standard margins.

Students will defend their prospectus orally before their dissertation advisory committee and the committee chair will communicate the results of that defense in writing to the graduate committee and coordinator.  The graduate coordinator will place a copy of the approved prospectus in the individual student’s file and recently approved prospectuses will be kept in the History Department Office for reference.  A student whose prospectus is not approved will be permitted to submit a revised prospectus that responds to their committee’s comments within six months.  Students must apply in writing to their committee chair to extend the deadline for submission of the prospectus.  The chair will forward a copy of the extension request to the graduate committee and coordinator.


Before a thesis or dissertation is typed or printed in final form, it must be defended before the student’s Advisory Committee.  A thesis or dissertation will be considered ready for defense only after all members of the student’s Advisory Committee have had a chance to read it and have signed the Tentative Thesis Acceptance Form.  Normally, requests for tentative acceptance should be made at least three weeks prior to the last date for thesis or dissertation defense in a given semester.  A copy of the thesis or dissertation and the signed Tentative Thesis Acceptance Form must be delivered to the Graduate School no later than 24 hours prior to the defense.

A notice of the defense date will be circulated to all History Department faculty and graduate students at least one week prior to the defense, along with an abstract of the thesis or dissertation.

The Advisory Committee will evaluate the M.A. or Ph.D. candidate’s thesis or dissertation in a two-part oral examination.  During the first part, which anyone may attend, the candidate will present the themes and arguments of the thesis or dissertation.  After visitors have been excused, the content, methodology, and form of the thesis or dissertation will be examined by the Advisory Committee (and other members of the graduate faculty if they wish to participate).  A majority of the Advisory Committee will decide, by paper ballot, whether the candidate’s thesis/dissertation and oral examination are satisfactory.
The Graduate School’s regulations concerning thesis or dissertation format and the forms and conventions accepted in the historical profession must be followed throughout.  In exceptional cases, a dissertation may be written in French if approved by the Advisory Committee.


All work for the M.A. degree must be completed within six years of the first registration for work towards the degree.  Ph.D. students must be admitted to candidacy within four years from registration for the first work presented for the degree.  All work for a doctoral degree must be completed within four years from admission to candidacy.


Students may petition for exceptions to the requirements. Petitions must be submitted in writing and approved by the student’s advisor, the student’s Advisory Committee, the Graduate Committee, and the Chairman of the Department, before exceptions will be granted.


Selection:  Graduate students already in the program (including those wishing renewal) request in writing to the Graduate Coordinator by February 1 that they wish to apply for a teaching assistantship (TA); prospective students should check the appropriate space on the application form.  In making its TA selections, the Graduate Committee looks at such quantitative indicators as  GPAs; considers letters of recommendation for outside applicants and the views of University of Maine faculty with whom inside applicants have worked; tries to balance the desire to accommodate good students already in the program with the need to attract new students; generally favors Ph.D. students over MA students, except where program needs intervene (e.g., HTY 105-106 sections requires students with some European History background); and considers the interests of the undergraduate student population by favoring candidates who will be effective in the classroom.

Time Limits:  Students in the M.A. program normally will be eligible for up to two years of funding from teaching assistantships.  If M.A. candidates receive a teaching assistantship in the second year of their program work, however, they may hold the TA position for only that year, rather than two.  Students in the Ph.D. program normally will be eligible for up to three years of funding from teaching assistantships.  There is no guarantee that students holding teaching assistantships at the M.A. level will retain them if they move into the Ph.D. program; they will be placed in the same pool as other applicants in the Ph.D. program.  The Graduate Committee may make exceptions for the benefit of the Department.

Assignments:  The Graduate Coordinator shall be responsible for assignment of qualified TA’s to individual instructors and courses.  Assignment shall be made with the best interests of the Department, teaching assistants, and students in mind.

Workload:  The primary responsibility of the TA is within the instructional program of the History Department.  In addition, there is an orientation session for all new TA’s held by the Graduate School early in the fall semester and there may be occasional sessions of TA’s and their instructors to discuss teaching problems.  Research and personal services are not part of the TA workload.

Evaluation:  A TA’s performance as a teacher will be guided and evaluated by the individual faculty member.  Reappointment will be based, in part, on the written report at the end of each semester by the faculty member and, where applicable, student evaluations of the TA.

Grievances:  The Chairman of the Department shall define channels for TA redress of grievances.


M.A. in European History:
HTY 647  (3 credits)
HTY 611   (3 credits)

Two of the following:
HTY 517, 518, or 519  (6 credits)

Minor Field Outside European history  (3 credits)
HTY 550  (3 credits)
No more than two 400-level  (6 credits)
HTY 699 Thesis  (6 credits)

(For non-thesis MA students, two additional graduate courses in lieu of six thesis credits, including one additional 600-level seminar)

M.A. in Canadian History
HTY 647  (3 credits)
HTY 507 or 508  (3 credits)
HTY 520 Historiography  (3 credits)
HTY 521 U.S. & Canada  (3 credits)
HTY 609 Borderlands  (3 credits)
1 grad course outside North America  (3 credits)
No more than two 400-level courses  (6 credits)
Alternatively, no more than two HTY 550s  (6 credits)
HTY 699 Thesis  (6 credits)

(For non-thesis MA students, two additional graduate courses in lieu of six thesis credits)

PhD in Canadian-American History:
HTY 647  (3 credits)
Major Canadian Fields – HTY 520, 521, 609  (9 credits)
Major US Field – HTY 507 or 508 + HTY5XX/6XX  (6 credits)
Minor Field in History – HTY 5XX or 6XX  (3 credits)
External Field – graduate course outside history  (3 credits)
HTY 699 Thesis  (6 credits)

(Students who have fulfilled several of these course requirements at the MA level need a minimum of 15 hours of coursework at the Ph.D. level)

M.A. in American History
HTY 647  (3 credits)
HTY 507 or 508  (3 credits)
HTY 5XX  (6 credits)
HTY 6XX  (6 credits)
One graduate course outside North America  (3 credits)
No more than one 400-level  (3 credits)
Alternately, no more than one HTY 550  (3 credits)
HTY 699 Thesis  (6 credits)

(For non-thesis MA students, two additional graduate courses in lieu of six thesis credits.)

PhD in American History
HTY 647  (3 credits)
HTY 507 or 508  (3 credits)
Major American Fields – HTY 5XX and/or HTY 6XX  (12 credits)
Minor Field in History – HTY 5XX or HTY 6XX  (3 credits)
External Field – grad course outside history  (3 credits)
HTY 699 Thesis  (6 credits)

History 4+1 Program

History 4 + 1 Application