Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in the field of History

Program Learning Outcomes for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of History

Upon completing the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of History, students will be able to:

  1. Develop analytic skills in critical thinking and writing that are of value both inside and outside the academy.
  2. Conduct original research that makes a contribution to the field.
  3. Write a dissertation that makes an original contribution to their field.
  4. Be equipped to enter the historical profession as academics who can teach, present work to peers, and communicate effectively with the public.
  5. Acquire expertise in their major field of historical inquiry and learn the skills necessary to write historical monographs.

Requirements for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of History

MA Degree Program

The MA degree is a non-thesis master's degree. For general university requirements, please see Non-Thesis Master's Degrees. For additional requirements, regulations, and procedures for all graduate programs, please see All Graduate Students. The department gives priority to applicants for the PhD. Completion of the MA degree usually takes two years; no more than three years may elapse between graduate admission and the completion of the MA degree unless the department graduate committee approves an extension. MA degrees are awarded in three ways:

  1. completion of one year of course work (18 credit hours) and a thesis written and defended in an oral examination during the second year;
  2. completion of two years of course work (36 credit hours), normally including at least two seminar research papers, and
  3. for students continuing to the PhD, completion of all requirements for candidacy, including written and oral examinations.
Total Credit Hours Required for the MA Degree in the field of History 36

PhD Degree Program

For general university requirements, please see Doctoral Degrees. Doctoral candidates must prepare themselves in three fields of history: two in their major area of specialization, and a third in an area not included in the first two fields. Students who wish to pursue a third field in an area outside the department should petition the graduate committee by the end of their second semester.

The requirements for completing the degree will be administered as flexibly as possible within the bounds of general university requirements. These requirements state that the PhD degree will be awarded after successful completion of at least 90 semester hours of advanced study and an original investigation reported in an approved thesis. The student may apply for formal admission to candidacy for the PhD degree after passing the qualifying exam.

For the PhD degree, candidates must:

  • Prepare themselves thoroughly in three examination fields.
  • Take 8 graduate seminars, including HIST 575.
  • Pass an examination in the principal language of research and in one additional language. If the principal language of research is English, candidates must pass an examination in one other language.
  • Perform satisfactorily on written and oral examinations. 
  • Complete a dissertation presenting the results of original research.
  • Defend the thesis in a public oral examination.
Total Credit Hours Required for the PhD Degree in the field of History90

Policies for the PhD Degree in the field of History 

Department of History Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the Department of History publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:


The Rice University graduate program in history is primarily a PhD program. Students who have a BA in history (or its equivalent) are eligible to apply to the PhD program. Although many successful candidates to the PhD program have an MA or other advanced degree, advanced study is not a requirement for admission. Graduate study is offered in these fields:  United States (including colonial America, the U.S. South, and the United States and the World), Latin America and the Caribbean, the Atlantic World, transnational Asia, and the Middle East. Further information is available at the department website. For general university requirements, see Graduate Degrees.

Financial Support

The department awards graduate tuition waivers and fellowship stipends, within the limits of available funds, to qualified PhD candidates with demonstrated ability. All graduate students in the history department are expected to participate in the professional activities of the department as part of their training. These include, but are not limited to, assisting with the Journal of Southern History or serving as research assistants or teaching assistants for department members. As far as possible, these assignments are kept consistent with the areas of interests of the students.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the History website:

Opportunities for the PhD Degree in the field of History

Information regarding resources and opportunities for the Department of History graduate students, including conference and research travels support, as well as additional funding, can be found on the History website:

Teaching Opportunities

Avenues for teaching experience at Rice for graduate students include:
The Program in Writing and Communication (PWChires a number of graduate students each semester for instructor and teaching assistant positions for the University's First-Year Writing Intensive Seminars (FWIS).
The Center for Writing, Oral, and Visual Communication (CWOVC) hires student consultants enthusiastic about working with Rice students to improve communication skills. The annual job notice is posted in late March and training is provided to successful applicants.
The Humanities Research Center (HRC offers funding for developing and teaching a Public Humanities course at Rice. Eligible students will be in their fifth, sixth, or seventh years and have completed departmental pedagogy requirements. More information can be found here

A competitive, sixth-year fellowship serving as the Boles Editing Fellow for the Journal of Southern History is also available. 

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the History website:

See for tables of fellowships, prizes, and internships/practica that may be relevant to this degree.