Ph.D. Requirements

General William and Mary requirements are found in the Graduate Catalog.  A more detailed discussion of requirements is found in the American Studies Graduate Student Handbook (pdf).

Students may enter the Ph.D. program by one of two routes. They may enroll directly into the sequential M.A./Ph.D. course of studies at William and Mary, or they may matriculate in the doctoral program, after completing M.A. degrees at other institutions. The following requirements hold for all doctoral candidates.

  1. Course distribution (60 credit hours beyond the B.A.)
    1. A two-semester introductory seminar (661-662), designed to provid broad framework for the study of American society and culture. (Normally, students will have taken this course in the first year of the M.A./Ph.D. program.)
    2. Formal courses and independent readings, chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, and designed to prepare a student to present Major and Minor Fields for the comprehensive examination.
  2. Reading knowledge of a foreign language of scholarship.
  3. A qualifying exam in one Major and one or more Minor Fields. Major fields encompass established disciplines, such as History or English, and area or interdisciplinary studies, such as African-American Studies, Material Culture, or Women’s and Gender Studies. Minor fields may be devised to suit the students’ particular interests. They may cover special areas of strength at William and Mary, specific topics within Major Fields, or comparative or theoretical perspectives on American life, such as Critical Theory or Race Relations in the Americas.
  4. A dissertation based upon original research, which makes a scholarly contribution to the study of American life.

Ph.D. students may expect to take five or six years of full-time work to complete all requirements for the doctorate. Normally, full-time students will pursue three semesters of course work beyond the M.A. and then take the qualifying examination in the fourth semester of their doctoral studies. After successful completion of the qualifying examination, students will embark upon their dissertations.

The American Studies Program also enables students to pursue the Ph.D. on a part time basis. Students may take some of their Ph.D. coursework part-time, but they must spend at least one academic year in continuous residence as a full-time student at the College. Ph.D. students have seven years to complete their doctorate after the colloquium held in preparation for the qualifying examination.