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Department Information

The William P. Clements Department of History at Southern Methodist University offers innovative graduate study in American history (Ph.D. and M.A.) and global history (M.A. only). The Department has particular strengths in the history of the Southwest borderlands and the American West, American political history, the history of race and ethnicity in America, and early American history. Moreover, the department boasts topical and methodological expertise in global/comparative history, cultural history, digital humanities, and the history of gender.

The Department of History is home to two scholarly centers that sustain and enrich its core offerings through research colloquia, visiting postdoctoral fellows, and public lectures. The Clements Center for Southwest Studies has long been the nation’s leading venue for research in the history of the Southwest in a transnational perspective. And since 2012, the Center for Presidential History promotes critical inquiry into the study of the rich history of US politics and government, broadly defined.

SMU, a national-ranked private university, is home to topflight research facilities, including the DeGolyer Library, which is devoted to the history of the Southwest, the history of business, and the history of science and technology; the Bridwell Library, which provides a wealth of resources for the study of religious history; and the George W. Bush Presidential Library, one of four presidential research libraries within easy reach of Dallas.

Some unique program features are:

  • Small seminars and close working relationships with faculty and other graduate students

  • Vital research takes place day-to-day as well as various academic events with fellows and senior scholars from The Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Center for Presidential History 

  • Ph.D. students have the opportunity to teach undergraduates in a mentoring program where they work closely with professors in the planning and teaching of a course

Degrees Offered

Explore our History M.A. Program

Explore our History Ph.D. Program

Historical Research Centers at SMU

The History programs have the goal of maximizing your knowledge in a chosen specialization and preparing you for research and a future career in academia and/or private industry.

The Center for Presidential History

The Center for Presidential History

 

The Center for Presidential History produces and supports research on the history of the American presidency, broadly conceived. The CPH aims to function as a central hub for the most current and innovative research in Presidential History through four methods:

  • Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • Graduate Student Fellowships
  • Writing Fellowships
  • Publications

William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies

William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies

 

Established in fall 1996, the Clements Center promotes research, publishing, teaching, and public programming in a variety of fields of inquiry related to Texas, the American Southwest, and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (students from abroad must hold the equivalent degree), a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and at least 12 advanced credit hours in history courses. Applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination scores. Provisional admission is possible in exceptional cases

Applicants from countries where the predominant language is not English are required to supply scores on the TOEFL English language proficiency test administered by the Educational Testing Service. The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 80 on the Internet-based test. International English Testing System scores also are accepted.

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, an example of their written work, and official transcripts. Three letters of recommendation are also required. On admission, students should have two years of college-level study in a language in addition to English.

All applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (students from abroad must hold the equivalent degree), a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and at least 12 advanced credit hours in history courses. Applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination scores. Applicants from countries where the predominant language is not English are required to supply scores on the TOEFL English language proficiency test administered by the Educational Testing Service. The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 80 on the Internet-based test. The Test of Spoken English or equivalent is required for teaching assistants. International English Language Testing System scores also are accepted.

Students must submit a statement of purpose, an example of their written work, and official transcripts.

Three letters of recommendation are also required. In addition, applicants should possess a foundation in a language for research, normally Spanish, sufficient to pass an examination in translation to English in September of the first year of study.

Deadlines for Admission

For all graduate History programs:

Priority deadline for fall admission is December 15th.

Final deadline for fall admission is May 1st.


Departmental Assistantships

M.A. Program

The Department offers a small number of waivers for tuition and fees for M.A. students. December 15th is the deadline for applicants who wish to be considered for the tuition waivers.

Ph.D. Program

The History Department awards fellowships to all students accepted into the Ph.D. program. Funding is guaranteed for a period of five years for those who continue to work at an excellent level. Fellowships include tuition, fees, health insurance benefits and an annual stipend of $20,000. In addition, the Clements Department of History and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies have resources available for travel to professional conferences and to research archives. For more information, contact the graduate advisor.

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Degree Requirements

The Master’s degree is offered on two tracks:

  • United States
  • Global/Comparative History

Students may develop their interests by working with faculty knowledgeable in Classical history, Medieval history, early modern and modern Europe, Russia, the Islamic world, sub-Saharan Africa, the Atlantic world, Latin America, East Asia, South Asia, as well as the various regions, periods, and themes of the United States.

Course work includes 24 credit hours plus 6 hours of thesis credit. Students take an oral examination on their field of concentration during the second year of study and give a formal defense upon completion of the thesis.

The William P. Clements Department of History at Southern Methodist University offers an innovative Ph.D. program. The course of study explores American historical experiences in global and comparative perspectives, with special emphasis on advanced-level work in the Southwest, the West, Mexico, Borderlands, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, or another individualized specialization in a coherent field of study such as American Presidential or Colonial history, approved by the Graduate Committee. The program is thus built around three fields: a major field in general American history, a second in a specialization variously defined, and a third in global and comparative history.

The program is enhanced by several unique University resources, including the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, which promotes research in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest, and the DeGolyer Library, which is devoted to Western Americana, Texana, and the Spanish borderlands.  In addition, the Meadows Museum houses perhaps the world’s finest collection of early modern Spanish art outside of Spain. For students with more interdisciplinary interests, the Bridwell Library provides a wealth of primary sources for the study of religious history; the Underwood Law Library supports the study of legal history, and the Center for Presidential History allows for research in the political affairs of the United States.

Specifically, the Ph.D. requirements are: 
  • Historiography (3 credits)
  • American History (12 credits)
  • Regional, Ethnic, or Other Specialization (18 credits)
  • Global and Comparative History (12 credits)
  • Research Paper Requirement
  • Qualifying Examination
  • Dissertation (3 credits)
  • Teaching Preparation

*After completion of 33 hours of course work in good standing, doctoral students may apply for the Master's degree in history.

Student Spotlight

Camille Davis_Spring2020

 

Camille Davis is a doctoral candidate who focuses on the visual and intellectual history of the American Revolution and the Early Republic. Her specific area of focus is the role of portraiture in shaping ideas of American identity and legitimacy. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Baylor University and a master's degree in history from the University of North Texas, Denton.

Additionally, she is an alum of the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University. In December 2019, Camille became Managing Editor of the SMU graduate history blog — The Future of the Past — where she writes about the effects of images and pop culture on history and politics. She is also one of the Oral History Project Managers within the "Voices of SMU" oral history project. Her hobbies include yoga, home decor projects, and reading Vogue and Architectural Digest magazines.

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