Degree Requirements FAQ

Will I receive any credit for course work completed at another university?

To be advanced to candidacy, a student must complete 18 graduate credits in residence. Although actual credits are not transferred from other institutions to U-M at the PhD level, students may satisfy some program requirements through course work completed in graduate programs elsewhere, primarily cognates, second seminar, and languages.

What is a typical course load for a first year student?

In the first year, students enroll in three courses per term (9 credit hours), including mandatory enrollment in History 615. We especially recommend that students limit their enrollment in the first term due to the intensity of the transition to graduate school.

How many credits do students take when they are graduate student instructors?

Most students take six to nine credits per term when they are GSIs. Six credits is considered full time during teaching terms.

Will my MA in History reduce the number of courses I have to take in my U-M PhD?

Possibly. You may petition the department to accept your MA thesis for fulfillment of the second seminar. In addition, cognate (non-history) courses taken in another graduate program can satisfy the cognate requirement. However, you will still need to take a minimum 18 credits of graduate coursework (and most students take far more).

What is “continuous enrollment?”

In the 2010-11 academic year, Rackham Graduate School and all of its PhD programs switched to a system of continuous enrollment whereby students are registered during every Fall and Winter term until graduation unless they take a leave of absence. This is the standard procedure at most of our peer institutions, and it is thought to enhance the connections of students to their program and to improve completion rates. More information about continuous enrollment can be found on Rackham’s website.

Can I take courses at another institution while enrolled in my U-M grad program?

Yes. Students frequently visit other campuses for courses. In addition, students occasionally go on “extramural study” status whereby they enroll and pay tuition at another institution to pursue studies relevant to their PhD degree. Upon approval by the department and Rackham, the tuition paid to the external institution takes the place of the U-M tuition normally required under continuous enrollment.

Do you have a Master’s program?

U-M does not offer a separate program for the MA degree in History; consequently no students are admitted for MA work alone. However, an MA in History degree is available to our PhD students once they have fulfilled the requirements that are described in detail in The Gray Book.

How long does it take to get a History PhD at Michigan?

Students are expected to complete pre-candidacy course work, take prelims, and advance to candidacy no later than the end of their third year in the program. After advancing to candidacy, students are encouraged to complete dissertation research and writing in accordance with the demands of their research topics and the challenges presented by language and availability of research materials. Ideally, students will complete all requirements for the PhD within six to seven years from entering the program.