Current PhD Students
Historiography (3 credits)
In the first term, students will take History 6300 (3 credits), a historiography course that introduces them to the professional study of history. Readings vary from year to year, but cover a broad range of methodologies, perspectives, and topics. The course also addresses historical writing, research techniques, and historical sources.
American History (24 credits)
During the first two years, all students take a sequence of four courses based upon intensive readings in American history (12 credits) from the era of Indian-European contact to the present, in order to acquire a mastery of the historiography of the field. These colloquia emphasize new problems, interpretations, and debates vital to the study of American history. In addition, students take four specialization courses (12 credits) that may vary in both content and method; these take the form of graduate courses, graduate/senior-level reading seminars, and/or individual directed readings. According to individual interests and requirements, one or two of these courses may be taken in another department.
The Southwest and Mexico (12 credits)
Students also will develop a field in Southwestern/Mexican History by taking a minimum of twelve credits of coursework. A research seminar (3 credits) and a colloquium (3 credits) on the Southwest or Mexico comprise half of the field. The remaining courses (6 credits) should be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser. Students who have completed their seminar and colloquium on Mexico might take these six hours in Southwestern history (including Mexican-American history); whereas, students who have completed their seminar and colloquium in the Southwest might take these six hours in Mexico. Students may also wish to enrich their historical understandings of the region by taking courses in other fields such as anthropology, literature, or religious studies. Then, too, the program offers unusual opportunities for students to broaden and deepen their knowledge of this dynamic field of inquiry. The resources include the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, with its symposia, research fellows and distinguished visitors; SMU’s DeGolyer Library, a repository for a remarkable collection of books and manuscripts on Mexico and the Southwest; and the Meadows Museum of Art, which houses perhaps the world’s finest collection of Early Modern Spanish art outside of Spain.
Global and Comparative History (12 credits)
The third field, in Global and Comparative History (12 credits), places the American experience in larger contexts by introducing students to the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have guided advanced research in recent decades. The field also provides interdisciplinary perspectives on particular topics of global significance. Students begin this field of study by taking a colloquium (3 credits) that explores influential methodologies and theoretical perspectives in global and comparative history, including the Annales school, world-system and dependency analysis, cross-cultural approaches, ecological history, post-colonial
theory, and comparative methods. These are followed by three specialized courses (9 credits) that treat individual topics and themes in comparative contexts. Topics and themes include urbanization, migration, industrialization, revolution, slavery, and gender roles.
Research Paper Requirement
Students will write two substantial research papers during the first two years of study. The goal is to produce significant work based on primary sources and of a quality comparable to an article in a scholarly journal.
the end of a Ph.D. candidate’s second year,
the Director of Graduate Studies (in consultation with the
candidate and the Graduate Committee) will appoint an
oral examination committee with four members: a chair, who is
typically the candidate’s dissertation adviser, and three
other members of the Department. In the spring of the third
chair and one other member will examine the student over the
major field (Southwest, Mexico, Borderlands, U.S.
West, etc.); one will examine a period, methodology or theme
of US history; and one will examine a non-U.S. field of
study. During the final stages of preparation for the exam,
candidates work closely with the committee, concentrating on
a review of the materials covered in the various reading
colloquia, supplemented with such additional titles as the
committee may find necessary. Broadly speaking, candidates
are expected to have mastered the readings assigned in all
colloquia and readings courses they have taken, as well as
those other sources they have used in preparing papers for
courses in the program. Candidates should expect questions
requiring them to demonstrate a clear understanding of the
dominant themes and historiographical issues in the three
Dissertation (3 credits)
A formal defense is conducted upon completion of the dissertation.
Learning to be an effective instructor is a vital part of our Ph.D. program. The centerpiece of teacher preparation, to occur in the fourth year, is a mentoring program tailored to the interests and the needs of each student. Students will work closely with
a professors in the planning and teaching of an individual course. They also will meet with
the professor to discuss topics related to teaching; attend the classes of various professors to observe technique and style; and participate in a seminar offered by SMU’s Commission on Teaching and Learning and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
Finally, students themselves will teach a course at SMU or a