Students primarily interested in the history of the Middle East should seek admission to the joint Ph.D. program in history and Middle Eastern studies, in accordance with the procedures specified by the Departments of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History.
Joint Ph.D. students must complete a total of 72 points, including Problems and Methods in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, MEIS-GA 1687, and three graduate seminars. At least one of those seminars must be in a non-Middle Eastern field. Joint program students must also take the methodology course Approaches to Historical Research and Writing I, HIST-GA 3603, required of all history doctoral students. Students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one Middle Eastern language, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, as well as a reading knowledge of at least one European language, in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the Department of History. A student may be required by his or her dissertation adviser to learn additional languages, in keeping with the student’s specific research needs.
Students should begin defining the fields of historical study in which they wish to specialize as early as possible. Between their second and third year of full-time study, students must take and pass a comprehensive examination in each of two major fields of history. One field must be Middle Eastern; the other may be Middle Eastern or one of the other fields defined by the Department of History. Subject to the availability of faculty, Middle Eastern fields may include modern Middle Eastern history (1750-present), early modern Middle Eastern history (1200-1800), and early Islamic history (600-1200); other Middle Eastern history fields may be approved later. Each student’s choice of fields must be approved by the directors of graduate studies of both departments.
Both comprehensive examinations are normally taken at the end of the same semester, but students may petition to take one of their examinations no later than the end of the following semester. Each written comprehensive examination will be followed by an oral examination, administered by the two readers. Students who do not pass a comprehensive examination may petition for permission to take it one more time. Students preparing for an examination in any of the fields for which the Department of History prescribes “literature of the field” courses must take those courses. For Middle Eastern history fields, preparation for examinations in those fields may be done in formal “literature of the field” courses, if offered, or through reading courses arranged with faculty. In either case, students prepare for their examinations by course work in the field and by working through a reading list for the field under the supervision of the faculty member who will examine them; each examination will have a second reader as well.
After successfully completing his or her comprehensive examinations, the student should begin to formulate a dissertation proposal, in consultation with the student’s primary dissertation adviser. On completion of all course work and the fulfillment of all language requirements, the student must successfully defend the dissertation proposal, with the student’s adviser and two other faculty members serving as examiners. The completed dissertation must conform to departmental and Graduate School of Arts and Science standards, be read and approved by the student’s supervisor and two other faculty members, and be defended in a public oral defense in which three readers and two examiners participate.