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Doctoral Degree

The History Department offers the doctoral degree in the field of historical archaeology. The Program is jointly administered through the History Department and the Sociology & Anthropology Department, drawing heavily upon faculty expertise and research capacity in both fields.

The Historical Archaeology program includes: 15 credits in history, 15 credits in anthropology (including archaeology) and 18 credits in History 600 (Doctoral Research and Dissertation).

The chair of the Historical Archaeology doctoral committee may be either History or Anthropology faculty, or may be co-chaired by both. Ideally, there should be two History and two Anthropology faculty on the committee, but there must be at least one member from each department.

The qualifying exam fields will be determined by the student and committee.

The applicants must hold a Master of Arts degree in history, anthropology or an acceptable related discipline in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

When applying, students must provide the following materials to the College of Graduate Studies Admission's Office:

  • Three letters of recommendation from current or former professors or other persons who can speak to the applicant's qualifications
  • One sample of written work completed for the M.A. degree (preferably 30 pages or less)
  • A statement of purpose that clearly outlines the proposed field(s) of study and why the applicant wants to join the program

Upon acceptance by the College of Graduate Studies and the department, the student is admitted to the doctoral program.

During the first semester of study, the student will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies for initial academic advising. By the end of the first academic year of study, the student will select a major professor and additional faculty members to constitute a committee, and will complete and file an Appointment of Major Professor and/or Committee Form with the College of Graduate Studies.

The major professor(s) will guide the student in the course of study, oversee the preparation for the comprehensive examinations, and give professional direction in the research and writing of the dissertation.

The Study Plan details the 48 post-masters credits to be taken in pursuit of the Ph.D.

Students, working with their major professor(s), put together a preliminary study plan that they will present to the rest of the committee no later than the end of the student's first year in the program. (They can revise the study plan later, if needed.) The student must file the completed College of Graduate Studies Study Plan at the College of Graduate Studies. Revisions are made on the Graduate Program/Committee Change form form with the approval of the major professor(s), the rest of the committee, and the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

The 48 doctoral credits must be apportioned as follows:

  • Of the above 48 credits, no more than 18 may be satisfied by dissertation (History 600) credits, although a student may take more than 18 History 600 credits.
  • Of the remaining 30 credits, all credits must be in graduate-level (500) courses and should be split relatively evenly between history and anthropology, as determined by the committee. In some cases, credits outside history or anthropology may be recommended and allowed with permission of the committee.

The student in consultation with his/her major professor, selects a doctoral committee. The doctoral committee's composition may change as fields of study or emphasis are redefined. The doctoral committee, including the chair, usually consists of two faculty members from History and two from Anthropology.

The department chair and dean of the College of Graduate Studies must approve the committee as nominated on the Appointment of Major Professor and/or Committee form and submitted by the student to the College of Graduate Studies.

The student can change members of the committee prior to scheduling the doctoral preliminary examinations. The student may not initiate changes in the composition of the committee from the time he/she schedules the preliminary exams until the time all exams have been taken and passed. Any such changes should always be made in consultation with the student's major professor and formalized by filing the Graduate Program/Committee Change form with the College of Graduate Studies.

Normally, students must complete all requirements for the Ph.D., including dissertation and exams, within five years (10 regular semesters) after having being accepted into the program. Students may petition the department for either a one semester or maximum one year extension. Exceptions may be made for medical or other extenuating circumstances at the discretion of the department. Failure to complete degree requirements in the time allotted will mean immediate and permanent termination from the program.

The student must demonstrate a reading ability in at least one foreign language before the preliminary examinations. Students, especially those with a non-American emphasis, are urged strongly to develop and demonstrate proficiency in a second language. The student's major professor will determine the appropriate language(s). The examination will be administered in cooperation with the Department of Modern Languages & Cultures. The foreign language exam must be passed before the written preliminary and oral doctoral examinations in history can be taken.

In place of the above, the department may accept the results of a recent, standardized language proficiency exam that demonstrates acceptable ability.

Examinations & Dissertations

Preliminary Examinations

All students in the doctoral program must take and pass a cumulative set of three written exams and one oral exam.

  • Exams may never be waived, in whole or in part.
  • The student determines the exam fields in consultation with his/her committee.
  • Exams will be graded Pass/Fail.
  • The final arbiters of a student's passing or failing an exam(s) are the members of his/her doctoral committee. A clear majority of the members (three of four, or three of five) must vote in favor for a student to pass the exams. Minority votes will be noted in the final report submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.
  • All members of a student's committee will participate in preparing questions for the exams, and they alone vote to pass or fail the student's responses to these questions.
  • The time needed to prepare for the examinations will vary from student to student. Most need at least 3-4 semesters of full time study beyond the M.A. degree.

Prior to taking the examinations, the student must:

  • Consult with the members of his/her committee and develop a reading list relevant to their areas/subjects. Complete the foreign language requirement before the student may take the preliminary exams.
  • A student will sit for three, three-hour written examinations and one two-hour oral examination over a four-week period to be determined in consultation with his/her committee. (The committee may approve alternate arrangements for the exam so long as they are not minimizing these requirements.)

The three written examinations are taken first. The student will have a choice of questions that will reveal a substantive knowledge of chronology, major issues, interpretations, and bibliography. The written exams should be taken over a two-week period.

A student may not proceed to the oral exam until he/she has passed all the written exams.

The oral exam should be taken no later than two weeks after the last written exam. At the oral examination is open to all members of the department, as well as other university faculty, only. Immediately upon the conclusion of the oral examination, the members of the committee will discuss and vote on the student's performance. As with the written exams, the final decision as to passing or failing will be made by the committee members.

If a student fails all, some, or any one of the preliminary examinations (written or oral), he/she may repeat the exam(s) only once. The second attempt may be made no sooner than three months and no later than one year following the first attempt. The student must secure the consent of his/her committee to present himself/herself for reexamination. Failure to pass all of the exams at the end of the second try will result in immediate termination from the doctoral program.

Upon successful completion of the preliminary examination, the student becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. degree. The major professor certifies that all requirements have been met and files the Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy form.

Having completed coursework, passed all exams and advanced to candidacy, the student normally devotes the remaining part of his/her program to researching and writing a dissertation. The dissertation is expected to entail research in primary source material and make an original contribution of knowledge to the field. It is in this period that the student normally enrolls in History 600 Dissertation and Research. The candidate must complete the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary exams, otherwise new exams must be taken and passed. The College of Graduate Studies may grant extensions to the five-year limit.

When the dissertation is complete and an acceptable draft has been provided to all committee members for examination, the candidate and his/her major professor schedule a final defense. The student and major professor set a time and place for the defense. At least 10 working days prior to the defense, the student files the Request to Proceed with Final Defense of Dissertation with the College of Graduate Studies. At the end of the defense, the major professor files the Final Defense Report form with the College of Graduate Studies.

The University of Idaho requires electronic submission of completed dissertations. The College of Graduate Studies explains the procedures for this here.


Physical Address:
315 Administration Building

Mailing Address:
History Department
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3175
Moscow, ID 83844-3175

Phone: 208-885-6253

Fax: 208-885-5221


Web: History Department