the Doctorate | College of Arts

the Doctorate

About the Doctorate

The Tri-University History Doctoral Program is committed to the pursuit of excellence in graduate research and teaching. Students enter the doctoral program for a variety of reasons, but all are motivated by a strong desire to pursue the most advanced education for history teaching and research. In the first year of the program, students normally complete their three PhD fields. As PhD field preparation provides a wide intellectual basis for scholarship and teaching, the fields are designed in such a way as to encourage reading complementary to a student's proposed area of doctoral research. Field seminar discussions are intended to develop skills in critical analysis and historical synthesis. Through the process of completing required research papers and a doctoral thesis, students acquire the capacity to conduct independent research and to produce written work of a sufficient standard to be acceptable for scholarly publication.

The Tri-University Doctoral Program generally limits thesis preparation to nine fields of study:

  • Canadian history
  • Indigenous history
  • Scottish history
  • early modern European history
  • modern European history
  • Medieval history
  • war and society
  • Cold War-era history
  • world history

Admission Requirements:

Applications are considered by the Tri-University Co-ordinating Committee. Only students who are graduates of accredited universities and colleges are eligible for admission. Direct admission following a BA degree is permissible only rarely and for outstanding applicants. Normally students can be considered for application only after they have obtained an MA in which they have received at least an A- standing. Since not all applicants can be admitted, close attention is paid to samples of applicants' written work, to applicants' transcripts and past records as a whole, and to their statements of research interests. Applicants from outside Canada whose previous education cannot be assessed readily may be required to demonstrate their knowledge by other means, such as the Graduate Record Examination. Non-Canadian applicants whose first language is not French or English are required to submit evidence of proficiency in the English language or pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A net score of 600 is required. Registration at one university for three degrees (BA, MA, PhD) is discouraged.

Please note all PHD applicants must supply three referees with their application.
Applications: please click on how to apply

Degree Requirements:

Advisory Committee: All students have an advisory committee that meets regularly. Following successful completion of the qualifying process, the student must complete, under the supervision of a Tri-University Doctoral Program in History faculty member, an original research project on an advanced topic. Students present a thesis proposal and colloquium which are appraised by their advisory committees. A thesis embodying the results of that research is presented and defended before an examining committee.

Professional Development Seminar (HIST*7000). All doctoral students attend the professional development seminar in their first year of the program. The seminar is designed to prepare students for success as a PhD student and for their future careers. A pass/fail grade will be assigned for the seminar.

Language requirement. If no specific language is required for the student’s research (as authorized by the student’s advisory committee), the second language will be French. The determination of the second language will be made by the student’s advisory committee during the first semester of the student’s registration in the program. The language exam will be offered every Fall and Winter semester and it is expected that a student will successfully complete the test of reading comprehension no later than the 6th semester following admission into the program.

PhD Fields. Each student is required to demonstrate competency in one major and two minor areas. In the minor fields, competency is demonstrated by successful completion of two minor field seminars. In the major field, students must successfully complete a major field seminar and the qualifying written and oral examinations (HIST*7040 and HIST*7010). As students are required to demonstrate competence in one major field and two minor fields, in first year they register in a major field seminar and two minor field seminars. One minor field must be in an area of study distinct from the major field and one minor field may be in another discipline. The distinction between a major field and an area of concentration is the depth and required range of reading rather than geographical or chronological span.

Colloquium (HIST*7080). The colloquium is a public presentation of a chapter, significant portion, or summary of the student’s thesis within three semesters of the completion of the thesis proposal. Grades will be SAT/UNS.

Thesis Proposal (HIST*7070). The thesis proposal is a written (up to 2,000 words, including citations) and oral demonstration for dissertation research. The proposal will include a statement of the overall thesis of the dissertation, a description/discussion of the major research question(s), a review of the principal primary/archival sources being used, a chapter or topic outline, and a clear explanation of the originality of the thesis. Grades will be SAT/UNS.

PhD Thesis (HIST*7990). All students must complete, under the supervision of a tri-university doctoral program faculty member, an original research project on an advanced topic. Each student will be required to write and successfully defend a thesis of such cogency and originality as will represent a significant contribution to knowledge. The thesis will normally be between 50,000 and 90,000 words in length. University of Guelph regulations and procedures govern this process (see Degree Regulations in the Graduate Calendar).

Normative Time Requirements: The PhD fields, written major field examination, and oral qualifying examination must be completed by the end of the fourth semester. No extensions will be permitted, except in cases where approval has been given by the Tri-University Program co-ordinating committee. Continuation in the program requires at least a B+ average, based on all courses taken in the program to that point (with their proportionate weighting).


Collaborative International Development Studies (IDS) Designation:

Students can also choose to combine their PhD program with an IDS designation (PHD.HIST+IDEV). The IDS PhD collaborative specialization provides an opportunity for advanced students to engage with interdisciplinary development theories and to conduct research on international development. This combination provides the necessary disciplinary qualifications for the academic job market as well as the interdisciplinary breadth required for development policy and practice. In place of one of the History PhD minors, students take an interdisciplinary course on theories and debates, and a course dealing with development research methods and practice. Completion of the IDS collaborative specialization adds the designation "International Development Studies" to the PhD degree. Visit the IDS website for more information or e-mail

Collaborative One Health (ONEH) Designation:

Students can also choose to combine their PhD in History with a ONEH designation (PHD.HIST+ONEH). The Collaborative Specialization in One Health prepares future leaders for the complex challenges at the confluence of human, animal, and environmental health, working across disciplinary boundaries, conducting multidisciplinary research, mobilizing knowledge, and informing policy. In place of one of the History PhD minors, students take a course on approaches to research, and a doctoral seminar on One Health. Visit the ONEH website for more information.

Collaborative Sexualities, Genders and Bodies (SGB) Designation:

Students can also choose to combine their PhD in History with an SGB designation (PHD.HIST+SGB). The Collaborative Specialization in Sexualities, Genders and Bodies examines advanced concepts relating to human identity, embodiment, and self expression. Students explore theories drawn from the fields of feminism, decolonialism, postcolonialism, LGBTQ+, race/whiteness, queer-of-colour, indigeneity, masculinities, and disability/crip studies among many others. Students engage with these topics from interdisciplinary perspectives and work toward applying these concepts, theories, and methodologies to research in their home discipline. In place of one of the History PhD minors, students take a course on emergent methods for the study of sexualities, genders and bodies, and a course where students critique the appropriateness of selected theoretical and epistemological perspectives and practices from the field of sexualities, genders and bodies. Visit the SGB website for more information or email