The Doctoral Program

The main purpose of the Ph.D. Program is to develop students' skills in historical analysis; to help them cultivate the habit of independent research; and to prepare for professional careers. The program trains students to examine trends in modern historiography, to explore new techniques of research, and to probe complex historical problems.

Instruction is offered in: The Americas, Britain and the Commonwealth, Canada, Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Modern Europe, Modern World. However, thesis-level specialization is offered only in certain aspects of these fields for which appropriate faculty supervision and adequate library resources are available.

The administration of the Graduate Program is supervised by the Chair of the Graduate Executive Committee assisted by the Committee. All members of the History Department at the rank of Assistant Professor or higher are members of the Graduate Executive Committee of the History Department.

Admission Requirements

This Program is open to a limited number of M.A. graduates who have a recognized ability for independent investigation and creative scholarship. All proposals for Ph.D. work, regardless of field, are assessed in the light of the Department's projected ability to provide appropriate supervision at the dissertation stage of the student's program.

Ph.D. students may, in certain instances, be required to pass a qualifying examination before being admitted into the program. Qualifying examinations for Ph.D. students are, as a rule, similar in scope and method of the procedures laid down for COURSE M.A. students. But whereas all COURSE M.A. students take four courses, Ph.D. qualifiers are seldom required to take more than two or three. In addition to the examinations in their two or three courses, Ph.D. qualifiers may be required to present themselves for an oral qualifying examination which covers material taken in the courses and may also include questions on the broad scope of their historical studies.

The minimum passing grade in any course for students attempting to qualify for admission to the Ph.D. program in History is B. If a student is required to take only two graduate courses in History to qualify, he/she must achieve a GPA of 3.5. If he/she is required to take three graduate courses in History to qualify, he/she must achieve a GPA of 3.33. No Ph.D. qualifier who fails to meet these minimum requirements will be admitted to the oral qualifying examination.

Program Requirements


All Ph.D. students must take a minimum of two (and are usually expected to take three) graduate courses beyond the M.A. degree in History. Ph.D. students may take 7000-level courses at the University of Winnipeg. Courses should be chosen in such a way as to aid the student in the preparation of his/her fields, but the responsibility of preparing for the candidacy examination must rest finally with the student. Exceptions to these requirements may be made in the case of students with some years of professional experience in History.

Fields of Study

Every Ph.D. student in History is required to offer three fields for his/her candidacy examination. These fields must be chosen from different areas of study. The field in which the student proposes to write a thesis is classified as the major field. One of the minor fields may be taken in an extra-departmental ancillary.

The general definition of an historical field allows for flexibility, but it is the responsibility of the student's Advisory Committee to prepare an exact description of particular fields in accordance with the student's individual and special interests. While a field of History may normally be a geographical and chronological unit, it can in certain special cases be a purely thematic one. No student, however, is allowed to offer more than one thematic field.

A field is prepared by acquiring substantial knowledge of its literature. Since the literature of any field is diverse and vast, it is necessary to produce a list of books and articles deemed to provide minimal adequate coverage of that field. Each list should normally contain the equivalent of a maximum of at least forty monographic works for minor fields; and about 75 for major fields. The lists are to be worked out in consultation with, and approved by, the candidate's prospective examiners. A student must present field descriptions and lists to the Graduate Executive Committee simultaneously, no later than September 30th of the student's second academic year in the program. The field lists must be signed by both the student and advisor, indicating agreement on the number and titles of books, etc. to be covered.

Written and Oral Candidacy Examinations

Every Ph.D. student must pass a candidacy examination before a thesis-project form is approved. This candidacy examination involves oral as well as written examinations in three fields. At the Ph.D. level, the minimum passing grade into any history course is 3.0 (B), and in any extra-departmental ancilliary 2.5 (C+). No Ph.D. student is admitted to the oral examination unless the over-all grade-point average in the three written field examinations is 3.33 or better. Students must inform the Graduate Chair of their intention to write Candidacy Examinations. Please see Ph.D. Exam Regulations for a full description of the candidacy examinations.

The Dissertation

The Advisory Committee, normally the Graduate Executive Committee of the History Department, is responsible for the general supervision of the student's entire program, until such time as the student has passed his/her candidacy exams. As soon as possible after passing the candidacy examinations, the Ph.D. student should consult the Chair of the Graduate Executive Committee who will initiate the process of selecting a dissertation Advisor.

The first step, in most cases, will be to put the student in contact with the area committee corresponding to the major field (e.g., Canadian, Modern, European, etc.). However, in those cases that do not fall into such well-marked divisions, the Graduate Executive Committee itself will function as the area committee. A student may express a preference for an Advisor, and every effort will be made to meet such a request, but it has to be understood that the Advisor may already be overburdened and so another assignment may be necessary. Upon consultation with and review by the Graduate Executive Committee, students may change advisors.

After the Advisor has been determined, the candidate will prepare a Thesis Proposal form in consultation with the Advisor. Once completed, the form will be submitted via the Chair of Graduate Studies to the area committee for review and approval.

The Thesis Project is then considered by the Graduate Executive Committee. If it finds the project acceptable, the Graduate Executive Committee then approves and registers the project with the Canadian Historical Association. If formal or informal comments or reports on a Ph.D. candidate's disserttion proposal are generated, they must be conveyed to the student in writing. The student has the right to appear before the Graduate Executive Committee to defend her/his proposal should there be any questions or concerns.

The doctoral thesis must constitute a distinct contribution to historical knowledge. It is expected to exhibit a mastery of the literature on the subject and a familiarity with all sources cited together with the techniques of exploiting them. The work should be based largely on primary and documentary material. The dissertation normally contains between 250 and 450 pages of double-spaced typescript. The thesis is researched and written under the direct supervision of the student's Advisor.

NOTE: The Advisor is responsible for the direction of the thesis, and normally the Advisor must approve the thesis before it can proceed to examination and defence. However, the candidate does have the right to an examination of the thesis if he/she believes it is ready for examination.

See Ph.D. Exam Regulations for full details on the Dissertation Examination procedure.


If a thesis-writer fails to satisfy his/her examining committee on more than one occasion, that individual may be asked to withdraw altogether from the graduate program in history. The final oral Ph.D. examination must be passed within SIX YEARS of the initial entry into the doctoral program.

Students must also re-register each year until their program is completed. Failure to re-register before the commencement of classes in September will require the student to reapply for admission and pay all outstanding registration, late and re-instatement fees at the current rate.

In extraordinary circumstances, a student may apply for a time extension to complete the program. Such applications must be made at least 4 months prior to the expiration of the original deadline. The deadline is not normally extended more than once.




PhD Program Thesis Project Form

(note-this form is for printing, it cannot be completed online)