Michigan State University
Dept. of History
301 Morrill Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1036
Africa, Medieval to Modern Europe, East and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Caribbean, Russia and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and World
History, as three recent interpreters have written in a new, compelling book, is a "discipline, a profession, and a career."(1) As a discipline, history has standards of evidence, styles of argumentation, and a literary and narrative dimension that distinguish it from other forms of scholarship. Historians interpret politics and institutions; they study intellectual communities and social dynamics; importantly, they give a voice to those who might otherwise not be accorded one by society. History has been among the most "interdisciplinary" of all the modern disciplines. As a profession, history possesses organized forms of interaction among its practitioners. Historians write for each other and for a public at large; and they are committed, professionally, to styles of written communication and oral interaction that are clear and informative. At conferences and in classrooms, in government and in museums, historians research and communicate about the past, remembering its lessons to help create a better future. And as a career, history is, and should be, many things: historians work in the academy, creating new knowledge and teaching students at the college and university level; historians teach at the K-12 level of education; historians design and curate exhibits in museums; and historians work for the government, for corporations, and for media outlets, strengthened and empowered by the standards and practices they acquire through rigorous professional training.
We are committed to history in all its modern, multifarious, happily diverse manifestations. If you are looking for exciting and innovative graduate training, if you are an ambitious self-starter, and if you are open to training that is itself open to change and dynamism, Michigan State is the place for you. We offer
transnational, innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to history. At Michigan State, the faculty recognizes that communities and human relations have internal cohesions that often reach beyond relatively recently constructed national boundaries. Among many other areas of specialty and in no particular order or hierarchy, at Michigan State you can study:
Latin American and Caribbean History with some of its leading interpreters and have the research resources of MSU's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Comparative Black History, with the resources of a Center for African and African-American Studies
African History, supported by the resources of our Center for African Studies
Labor and Working Class History across traditional boundaries
The history of Human Migration in a stimulating interdisciplinary program
Urban History across the humanities and social sciences
Asian History with all the resources that our federally funded Center for Asian Studies offers
European History, eastern to western, and from ancient through modern, with special, interdisciplinary focal points on intellectual and religious history and with the resources of the Center for European and Russian Studies
American History from the earliest settlers to recent events, from Native Americans to immigrant communities
We encourage our graduate students to combine these areas and specialties and to create new and interesting links among them of their own devising.
(1) T. Bender, Katz, and C. Palmer, The Education of Historians for the Twenty-First Century (Urbana, Illinois: The University of Illinois Press, 2004), pp. 4-5.
Special Programs or Resources
Michigan State is the home of H-Net, one of the most important and recognized centers for electronic scholarship in the world. And MATRIX, Michigan State's own center for humanities computing, offers resources and training that are unparalleled in this regard. Because of these resources, graduate students at Michigan State have a chance to be at the cutting edge of all the best that electronic resources have to offer.
Awards for Incoming Students
The admission application is sufficient for applying for funding because all admitted students are considered for the awards available to incoming students each year. The Michigan State University Distinguished Fellowship Program offers four years of support for a limited number of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, including a stipend, tuition and health insurance. The Milton Muelder Graduate Fellowship offers four years of support to a student of European History or the History of the Arabic/Islamic World. The recipient, a U.S. citizen, receives a $15,000 stipend, tuition and health insurance. The Graduate Education Opportunity Program offers a combination of fellowship support and graduate assistantships to African American, Latin American, and Native American students through the Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantship, and the University Enrichment Fellowship. The History Graduate Teaching Award offers four years of support with a half-time graduate assistantship in the Department of History (2 years) and the Center for Integrative Studies in Arts and Humanities/CISAH (2 years).
The Department of History has an annual evaluation of existing and potential teaching and research assistants. Students who hope to serve as TAs or expect to continue to serve as TAs (because they have long-term assistantship packages) must participate in this evaluation process. This determines a ranked pool of potential TAs for both Fall and Spring semesters. TAs are unionized (Graduate Employees Union) and receive a monthly stipend, tuition, and benefits.
Complete 800-900 level courses in a major field of history and in each of two minor fields, at least one of which must be in history, as specified by the student’s guidance committee. The major field should be the field in which the student plans to focus research for the dissertation, drawn from the fields of history listed below; a minor field may be composed with consultation of the guidance committee that emphasizes thematic or interdisciplinary scholarship. Ordinarily, doctoral students are required to take at least 9 credits of formal graduate course work (800-900 level) in their major field and 6 credits of such course work in each minor field.
The Department of History requires a competence in at least two foreign languages for the Ph.D. degree. The student must satisfy the first language requirement by the end of the first year of doctoral study; failure to do so will result in denial of registration privileges in other course work until that language requirement has been met. The second language requirement must be satisfied before the comprehensive examinations are begun. In some cases, a student's guidance committee may advise the substitution of a supporting discipline such as humanities computing, statistics, philosophy, economics, anthropology, or computer science in place of the second foreign language. The student will then invite a member of the relevant department to serve on the student's guidance committee, and the substitute discipline will constitute an additional minor field in the doctoral examination process.
Graduate students are expected to become experts in one major field and two minor fields, and they will constitute a committee, as explained below in IV and V, that consists of two professors in the major field and one each in the two minor fields.
Exams, Written and Oral
In practice, this means that students will prepare for four exams, two in the major field and one each in the minor field. They will come to an agreement with each of the four professors on the material on which they will be examined, consisting usually in a reading list of at least fifty to seventy-five books per exam, though this can vary according to case. The members of the committee will meet prior to the exam process and share this material among themselves. The history department expects graduate students to take exams in the fifth semester of residence, within a period of no longer than two weeks for all four exams. Writing time for each exam is limited to four hours, though in the case of non-native speakers of English this period can be extended up to two additional hours. Very soon after the written exams are completed (within a period not to exceed two weeks), an oral exam will follow with the committee. Students can expect to hear the results of each exam within forty-eight hours. Students must be enrolled for at least one credit the semester the oral comprehensive examination is taken. All doctoral students must register at Michigan State University for and successfully complete a minimum of 24 semester credits of doctoral dissertation research (HST 999).
Information from Department of Education
(Includes information on the size, location, and general characteristics of faculty and student body)
Information from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
(Includes rating of the institution's rating of the graduate instructional program and size and setting)
Full-time Faculty: 49
Relative Size based on Number of Full-time Faculty: Large [Explain]
Student Demographics (Fall 2011):
Number of Doctoral Students in Program: 93
New Doctoral Students Entering Program: 13
Proportion of Doctoral Students Receiving Financial Aid: -1%
Number of Graduate Students Enrolled: 92
Relative Size Based on Graduate Student Enrollment: Large [Explain]
First PhD conferred: 1952
History PhDs conferred to Date: 344
Number of PhDs Conferred (2011–12): 7
Relative Size Based on PhDs Conferred: Medium [Explain]
Last Updated: October 19, 2012