Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
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Guide for Graduate Students

Doctor of Philosophy in History

The program
Admission requirements
Nature of course offerings
Fields of study
Requirements and restrictions
Previously earned credits
Time limitation
Foreign language requirement
Comprehensive examination
Reading lists for Ph.D. comprehensive examination fields
Timetable for doctoral program
Forms and applications

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Ph.D. Program Advising

The Graduate Coordinator advises everyone admitted into the history program when they first enroll. Although you will soon choose an Advisory Committee and major advisor, who will advise you academically, you should still direct all technical questions about department and university requirements and policies to the Graduate Coordinator. For routine matters, such as forms, applications, deadlines , etc. you should get in touch with the Graduate Secretary, Karen Jackett, 901.678.1366,

During the first semester, or at latest the second semester, you must choose an Advisory Committee composed of a major professor with Full Graduate Faculty status representing the proposed major field and at least two other Graduate Faculty members representing the proposed minor fields. If at all possible the committee should have as a fourth member a second professor representing the major field. You and your major professor should arrange for the committee to meet shortly after it is formed to assist you in finalizing your fields of study, determining the choice of courses, evaluating the suitability of credits you propose for transfer from other institutions (usually from your previous M.A. work) and judging the applicability of your earlier coursework to your Ph.D. fields. The committee must issue all its decisions in writing, giving copies to you and to the Graduate Coordinator. Use the Ph.D. planning form for this purpose, which you can get at (MS Word). You should begin to use this form right away to keep track of your progress. It is especially important that your committee fill in the box on the second page of the planning form labeled “Please write all Advising Committee recommendations and requirements in this space.” It should itemize all that you must do to advance to the comprehensive exams. Without this form, properly filled out, the Graduate Coordinator will not clear you for registration for your second year.

At the end of your first and second year in the Ph.D. program (your committee may adjust this if you are part-time), your Advisory Committee will provide you with a written evaluation of your performance to date. This will state whether you are doing well, doing acceptably well, but with improvement needed, or not doing well and raising the question of whether you should continue in the program. In the last two cases the committee will provide an explanation, and you should meet with each of the members individually to discuss your options.

We urge you to consult your faculty advisors before enrolling for each semester. In any case, you must have each member of your Advisory or Dissertation committee sign the appropriate registration approval form (Advisory Committee approval form for early Ph.D. students (MS Word), or Dissertation Committee approval form for ABD students (MS Word)) and then meet with the Graduate Coordinator at least once a year for advising. The form does not substitute for the annual advising meeting: both are necessary for clearance. All early Ph.D. students must also bring an up-to-date planning form to the advising meeting. It is department policy that the Graduate Coordinator never clear a student for registration without this form or e-mail authorization from faculty who not available in person.

The responsibility for meeting all degree requirements rests, however, with you.

All registration is now done on the Web (myMemphis). For instruction on how to register, see This is actually a very easy process. Go to, sign in, go to the “Student” tab, scroll down and look for “Add/Drop Classes.” As long as you’re cleared, you should be able to add classes there.

Before you register for the first time, and at least once a year afterwards, you will need to obtain advising clearance from the Graduate Coordinator in order to register. The annual advising meeting is necessary for getting this clearance. If you try to register before getting this clearance, you will get a message that you need a PIN. This is not true, and I don’t know why the university chooses to confuse you. What you need is clearance from the Graduate Coordinator. Do not ask anyone else to clear you; only the Graduate Coordinator can do this.

This manual contains a timetable for the Ph.D. program. You should consult this often to see if you need to submit a form or take some other action at the current stage of your progress. It also contains links to all forms that are necessary to complete your degree. Please note that especially in the term in which you intend to graduate, deadlines for forms and exams are earlier in the semester than you might think. Again, it is your responsibility to make sure you meet all requirements. The Graduate School enforces its deadlines strictly, so it will be impossible to graduate on schedule if you miss a deadline.

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Last Updated: 3/12/14