University of Texas at El Paso Academic Catalog

Academic Catalog

Ph.D. in History

The PhD program in History focuses on the history of the Borderlands. The program is rooted in the premise that the Border unites as much as it divides and that the people of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico share many common historical experiences. Students at UTEP experience first-hand the complex political and social realities of a border community and take advantage of the rich opportunities for research in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. The degree is intended to prepare students for professional careers as college and university faculty, or as public historians working in such fields as museum administration, historic preservation, archival management, and public policy.

All students in the program complete a field of concentration in U.S.- Mexico Borderlands history, Transnational/World history, and either United states history or Mexican and Latin American history. Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of Spanish, except for unusual circumstances in which another language might be more appropriate.

Admissions Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School and the graduate program in History listed above, students should meet the following qualifications:

  1. Completion of a BA or MA degree in History. Students whose degree was in a field other than History should submit evidence of preparation equal to an undergraduate minor in History (survey courses in U.S. History and World History or Western Civilization; and 12 upper-division hours). Applicants with less than the required preparation might be required to do pre-doctoral work.
  2. Evidence of potential for scholarly work in History (from references and a written personal statement as well as the academic record).
  3. Applicants from countries where English is not the first language are required to demonstrate English proficiency. Please consult the graduate school website for required scores.

Application Process

Application forms can be obtained from and should be submitted to the UTEP Graduate School. Applications can be submitted at any time, but will be acted upon only once a year. Check the Graduate School Degrees, Programs, and Deadlines page for application deadlines.  

The documents to be submitted to the Graduate School are as follows:

  1. Official Graduate School application form.
  2. Transcripts according to the requirements of the Graduate School.
  3. A two- to three-page personal statement outlining the applicant’s personal experience, educational background, research interests, career goals, and how the program will benefit the applicant’s professional development.
  4. Three letters of reference from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for graduate
  5. A sample of the student’s academic work in the form of a term paper or chapter about 25 pages in length.

Course Requirements

All PhD students will be required to take courses at the graduate level (5300 and above) totaling at least 63 semester credit hours. This requirement is composed of core courses (15 hours), seminar courses (9 hours), elective courses (30 hours), and required doctoral dissertation courses (9 hours). Dissertation preparation courses (HIST 6398 and HIST 6399) can be repeated, but counted for credit only once in the above total academic work.

Two Cs

PhD students who receive two or more grades of C will be formally reviewed, and the Graduate Program Committee will make a recommendation as to whether the student should be allowed to continue in the program.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate reading proficiency in the Spanish language by the time they complete 36 semester credit hours. Students are required to have a reading knowledge of Spanish sufficient to conduct research in primary and secondary sources in that language. Alternate languages can be accepted by the Graduate Program Committee when appropriate to the student's research. Coursework taken to meet the language requirement will not be counted in the 63 hours required for the PhD degree.

Transfer With Graduate Credit

Students accepted into the PhD program with graduate credit (from UTEP or another institution) will be required to meet the specific degree requirements stated above. The student can petition the Graduate Program Committee to accept up to 30 hours of credit toward the degree. If titles of the transferred courses differ substantially from the History courses listed in this catalog, the student will be requested to provide documentation to the committee that the courses transferred are equivalent in content. The required core courses (HIST 6351-HIST 6354 and HIST 6320) cannot be met by transferred credit.

Maximum Time for Completion of the PhD Degree

Students in the PhD program in History must complete all requirements for the PhD within eight (8) years of their admission to the program. The eight-year period begins with the semester in which the first courses are taken after receiving formal acceptance into the program. Extensions of the period can be granted by the Graduate Program Committee in response to written petitions from the candidate if, in its judgment, final completion of the degree requirements by the candidate is considered likely.

Portfolio and Qualifying Examination

An oral qualifying examination, in which students will be examined in their three fields of concentration, must be taken upon completion of all coursework except the nine hours of dissertation courses. To prepare for the qualifying exam, students will assemble a portfolio that demonstrates their mastery of their fields and critical historical skills. As part of that portfolio, they will also prepare a formal Dissertation Proposal, which must be approved by the dissertation committee and the Graduate Advisor. Students will enroll in HIST 6300 Adv. Topics in Historiography and HIST 6301 Dissertation Preparation while they prepare their portfolio.

Failing Qualifying Examination Twice

PhD students who fail the same qualifying exam more than once will be formally reviewed, and the Graduate Program Committee will make a recommendation as to whether the student should be allowed to continue in the program.


Students must complete a doctoral dissertation containing substantial original research using primary documents, under the supervision of a dissertation advisor. A committee of three department faculty and one outside faculty member will be selected.

A copy of the dissertation in PDF or Word electronic format must be submitted to the Graduate School for format check prior to the scheduled defense date. The dissertation, including an abstract not to exceed 350 words, must be prepared according to the Graduate School’s thesis and dissertation guidelines available at the Graduate School Web site. The student will receive email confirmation from the Graduate School after the format has been approved. The final Graduate School-approved dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School in PDF electronic format by the deadline as published in the Class Schedule, along with a hard copy of the signature page with original signatures of the dissertation committee members. Information on submission procedures can be found on the Graduate School website. The signature page must be included in the PDF file but it should not be signed.

PhD Oral Examination

On completion of the dissertation, the candidate will be required to make an oral defense of the dissertation before the dissertation committee, the faculty, and the general public.

MA for students enrolled in the PhD Program

Students who enter the PhD program directly upon completion of the bachelor’s degree will be reviewed formally at an early stage of their graduate careers (normally at the completing of 18 semester credit hours of graduate work) to determine whether they should be encouraged to continue their work for the degree. Those who are cleared for continuation toward the doctorate will be awarded an MA after completing 36 hours of approved coursework, including nine (9) hours of research seminars; these students will not be required to complete an MA thesis or to submit a revised seminar paper in lieu of a thesis.

Those PhD students who are cleared for continuation toward the doctorate can receive an MA with a Border History concentration by completing 36 hours of approved coursework. These 36 hours must include nine (9) hours of graduate research seminars (six of which must relate to the U.S.-Mexico border), and at least twelve more hours of courses related to the U.S.-Mexico border. Students will not be required to complete an MA thesis or to submit a revised seminar paper in lieu of a thesis.

Students who voluntarily withdraw from the PhD program or who are denied permission to continue in the PhD Program

Students who have been reviewed and who are denied permission to continue work toward the doctorate, or those who voluntarily withdraw from the doctoral program, will be permitted to complete the M.A. degree (Plans I, II, III, or IV) according to existing departmental requirements.

Degree Plan

Required Credits: 63

PhD in History (All courses require a grade of C or better)
Research Seminars:
Select three courses of the following:9
Seminar-United States History
Seminar in Borderlands History
Seminar in World History
Seminar-Latin American History
Seminar: European History
Required Courses:12
Adv. Topics in Historiography
Lit./Method Bordlands History
Lit/Method of Transn/Wrld Hist
History Teaching and Learning
Core Course Electives:3
Select one course of the following:
Lit/Meth Mex/L. Amer. History
Lit/Method of U.S. History
Free Electives:30
Select thirty hours of the following:
Literature and Methodology:
Lit/Meth Mex/L. Amer. History
Lit/Method of U.S. History
Research Seminar:
Lit/Method of Transn/Wrld Hist
Seminar-United States History
Seminar in Borderlands History
Seminar in World History
Seminar-Latin American History
Seminar: European History
Studies Courses:
Studies in Public History
Studies in United States Hist
Studies in World History
Studies in Latin American Hist
Studies in Borderlands History
Studies in European History
Public History:
Intro to Public History
Public History Internship
Dissertation Preparation
Total Hours63