Department of History

Rules for Candidacy

Procedures for evaluation of candidacy for the doctorate in history

The History Department's procedures operate within the framework established by the Graduate School and the general regulations of the University. The Graduate School is administered by the Faculty of the University which delegates certain of its powers to the Graduate Council. Graduate students are admitted to candidacy by the Graduate Council upon recommendation of the department concerned. No candidate may be admitted to study for an advanced degree without the consent of the appropriate department.


To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. in history, a graduate student must successfully complete the course work outlined. In preparation for this examination, each student will be given the opportunity, in consultation with the Graduate Advisor, to construct a course of study best designed to fulfill his or her expectations and interests. All written work in courses taken in this program will be read and graded only by the professor teaching the course, not by a graduate assistant or proctor.


Acceptance by the History Department and the Graduate School for advanced study at Brown implies that the student has the credentials and potential to pursue graduate work. It is the obligation of the Department to provide expert criticism and guidance for the student and to help realize this potential. At the same time, by enrolling for graduate study in the Department of History, the student acknowledges the right and competence of the Department to evaluate and even if necessary recommend termination of candidacy or study leading to candidacy.


The Department continually evaluates the student's academic performance throughout the period of graduate study and may make appropriate recommendations to the Graduate Council at any time. There are, however, several points at which formal consideration of and decisions about the student's academic performance are made:

End of the First Semester

The Department:

  1. Will recommend to the Graduate Council those students applying for financial aid who it believes deserve financial aid for the following year;
  2. Will notify by letter those students applying for financial aid who are not being recommended for financial assistance in the following year;
  3. Will warn by letter students considered to be in serious academic difficulty that they must improve markedly in the second semester if they wish to remain in the Ph.D. program;
  4. May recommend special consultative meetings between a student and the professors in the student's fields; the Department may recommend such meeting at any time during the student's preparation for the Preliminary Examination for the benefit and guidance of the student.

End of the Second Semester

The Department will make one of the following recommendations to the Graduate Council and will so inform the student in writing:

  1. Immediate termination of the student's study at Brown.
  2. Termination of the student's work for the Ph.D. but with permission to proceed to the M.A. degree.
  3. Permission to proceed into the second year and continue preparation for the Preliminary Examination. This decision means that in normal circumstances, the student will be permitted to remain in the program at least until the time of the examination in the third year.

Additional Ph.D. Information

The Ph.D. program in History is designed to train students in the skills of conducting original historical research and crafting unique historical arguments.
The capstone, and most critical, project of the Ph.D. program is the doctoral dissertation.
We welcome applications for potential Ph.D. students in the fields listed, where links to individual faculty pages will describe our department's expertise and scholarly projects in detail.