The Tri-University doctoral program is designed to be completed in four years of full-time study.

Program Milestones

Old stone signpost with a "V" and moss on top. Image by analogicus on pixabay.Professional Development Seminar

All doctoral students must attend the professional development seminar in their first year of the program. The seminar is designed to prepare students for success as PhD students and for their future careers in academic and professional fields of employment. 

Major Field

The major field is the student’s primary area of concentration. The basis of the major field is the major field reading list, which consists of 100 books or equivalent, the preparation of one historiographical assignment, and participation and/or presentations. It ends with writing the Major Field Qualifying Exam (Comprehensive).

Minor Fields

The minor fields represent secondary areas of concentration. Minor fields are completed by seminar work during the first two terms of the student's program.

Major Field Qualifying Exam (Comprehensive)

The major field/qualifying exam is normally set for the Fall term of the second year (4th term) of a student’s full-time registration. The exam will consist of a written and an oral portion (each weighted as a 0.5 credit course) with a separate grade assigned for each part. A pass in both is required to continue.

Thesis Proposal

All doctoral students will present a thesis proposal to their advisory committee during the semester following the completion of their qualifying exams. The expected length is approximately 3,000 words.


The colloquium will be scheduled in the third year of the program and will consist of a public presentation of a draft of a substantive chapter of the dissertation (i.e. involving original research rather than historiography).

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of a second language. Language proficiency is tested through an examination administered by the home department and it is expected that a student will take the test no later than the 6th term following admission into the program.

Teaching Practicum

PhD students may apply to their department chair to teach a one-term course.

Thesis and Thesis Defence

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.

PhD Completion Sequence in Four Years