The Doctorate in History

The PhD program in History at the University of New Mexico prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of the historical profession. Students learn methods of historical analysis, a variety of historical interpretations, and practical applications of the field. Our PhD students complete coursework and conduct historical research, while many also engage in public history, teach, and produce historical content for scholarly and popular venues. Many PhD alums work in education, museums, academic publishing, public history, and the public and private sectors.  

The PhD program requires a total of 66 hours of coursework credit: a minimum of 48 hours of classwork and a minimum of 18 hours of dissertation credit hours (HIST 699). Of the 48 hours of classwork credit, 30 hours consist of core requirements and the remaining 18 hours are electives. No more than 2 courses of independent study, or “Problems” courses, (HIST697, at 3 credit hours each) may count toward these requirements. 

Core requirements: 

  • All PhD students are required to take two core courses: HIST 664 (Advanced Historiography) and HIST 665 (Historical Research Methods). Students with a primary specialization in Medieval Europe may substitute Medieval Research & Bibliography (taught as HIST 668) for HIST 665.  
  • All PhD students must fulfill the departmental language requirement: one language other than English for students choosing a Regional Concentration in US/American West and two languages other than English for students selecting a Regional Concentration in either Latin America or Europe.  
  • Each student will select a Regional Concentration from the list below. At least 4 courses (12 credit hours) in the Regional Concentration are required, of which at least 2 courses (6 credit hours) should be seminars (labeled with “Sem” prior to the course title, and numbered HIST 666 to HIST 695). At least one of these seminars should be within the Regional Concentration but outside of the area of Specialization. 
  • Each student will also select a Thematic Concentration from the list below. At least 2 courses (6 credit hours) in the Thematic Concentration are required, at least one of which is outside the Regional Concentration. 
  • Finally, each student must select an Outside Field/Public History. At least two graduate-level courses (6 credit hours) from the same department or program outside of the Department of History are required (except with approval of the DGS and major advisor; if you select the Public History option, the requirement that both classes be in the same department may be waived with the approval of the DGS). 
  • PhD students interested in graduate certificates, graduate minors and dual degrees should review the information here.  


  • After completion of all coursework and fulfillment of the foreign language requirement, students may schedule their comprehensive exam. The exam structure consists of three parts: a dossier, an oral examination, and a public presentation. 
  • The dossier is a portfolio of graduate materials including syllabi, reading lists, and writing samples. See the PhD Qualifying Examination Dossier Guidelines. 
  • The oral examination covers material from both concentrations, the regional and the thematic. 
  • The public presentation is in a format and on a topic selected by the examining committee. It must take place within two weeks of successful completion of the oral examination. 

Doctoral students select two concentrations – one regional and one thematic – around which to organize their programs of study. These represent the department faculty’s areas of expertise. 

The Regional Concentrations are: 

  • U.S./American West 
    • The Department of History offers a regional concentration in United States/American Western History. The U.S. faculty focuses on American Colonial History, Constitutional and Legal History, Gender, Social, and Intellectual History, as well as twentieth-century politics and economics. In addition, about nine faculty members teach and write on some aspect of the American West, with areas of specialization that include the Spanish Borderlands, Native American history, Environmental History, western Popular Culture, western Religion, Women in the West, Science in the West, and the twentieth-century West. Since about a third of the department specializes in some aspect of the History of the West, UNM boasts one of the most intense regional programs now available. 
  • Latin America 
    • The graduate program in Latin American History is among the country’s most robust, with six faculty researching, teaching and advising on a wide variety of topics, periods, and subregions. The Latin American History program offers comprehensive historical coverage of the region, including the Southern Cone  (Herrán Avila, Hutchison), Brazil (Bieber), the Andes (Gauderman), Central America (Gauderman, Hutchison) and Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands (Garcia y Griego, Gauderman, Herrán Avila, Truett). They cover the region’s full chronological scope, from pre-Colombian and Early Spanish and Portuguese America through early National, twentieth century, and contemporary Latin American history. Faculty also specialize in gender and sexuality (Gauderman, Hutchison), race and ethnicity (Bieber, Gauderman, Truett), frontiers and borderlands (Bieber, Truett), Cold War (Herrán Avila, Hutchison), and Latin American migration (Garcia y Griego, Gauderman). Latin Americanist faculty also contribute to the department’s broad strength in Indigenous history (Bieber, Gauderman, Truett).  
  • Europe 
    • Students who select Europe as a regional field will benefit from diverse faculty whose research specializations encompass the Late Antiquity, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern periods. Regional interests are Iberia, the Mediterranean, France, Italy, the Balkans, the British Isles, the Low Countries, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Topically our research and teaching interests complement the new Carnegie thematic fields: Gender and Sexuality, Religion, Race and Ethnicity, War and Society, Frontiers and Borderlands, Environment, Politics and Economy. The specializations within the European field are: Late Antique and Medieval; Medieval and Early Modern; and Modern. 

The Thematic Concentrations are: 

  • Gender and Sexuality 
  • Race and Ethnicity 
  • Frontiers and Borderlands 
  • War and Society 
  • Environmental History 
  • Religion 
  • Politics and Economy 

For more detailed information on the History PhD program, please consult the Graduate Handbook [link] and the Roadmap for completion of the PhD [link]. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies with any questions. 

Doctoral Program Prerequisites 

Successful completion of an MA in History, or a closely related field (if approved by the History Graduate Entrance Committee). For information on admission to the program, see here. Prospective applicants may also contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Shannon WIthycombe, for further information.