Ph.D./Ed.D. Student Handbook
Doctoral Program (Ph.D. and Ed.D.) Guide
Welcome to the doctoral program in History and Education at Teachers College. The purpose of this guide is to provide a road map to the doctoral process with particular focus on the certification examination and dissertation proposal. However, it is important that you keep track of and document your progress in the program. Whether you have chosen the Ph.D. or Ed.D, The basic requirements are the same.
Of great assistance to you will be the publications in the Office of Doctoral Studies (ODS), 153 Horace Mann. Forms for the certification exam, program plan, proposal hearing, preparation of manuscripts and the like are available in this office. The deadlines for filing these forms are also available. Please keep track of deadlines for submission of forms and documents.
The doctoral process, broadly writ, requires the following:
- 75 points (credit hours) minimum and two languages for the Ph.D.
- 90 points (credit hours) minimum; no language requirements for the Ed.D
- Certification exam
- Proposal Hearing/Advanced Seminar
- Oral Defense
The details and general time line for competing these requirements can be found in “Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy,” and “Requirements for the degree for Doctor of Education,” both available on ODS. It is imperative that students make themselves familiar with the appropriate pamphlet. The requirements are generally the same across the college. However, each program sets its own standards for the certification examination and the style in which the proposal is written.
The certification exam is offered three times a year in October, February, and June (check ODS for details). An approval form, available in ODS, must be signed by the adviser about one month before the exam (again check ODS for details). The written examination lasts a full day with a morning and an afternoon session.
Most students in history take the certification exam after completing a minimum of 15-24 points in history. Preparation for the exam usually takes about one year. The purpose of the exam is to demonstrate that one understands the foundations of history and education as well as having familiarity with one’s focused area of inquiry.
The exam in history consists of five questions that are student generated. Three are in prescribed areas of study and two focus on the student’s area of inquiry. Each question will have a bibliography of 15 to 20 texts. Adviser and student work together to develop the questions and bibliographies. The three required areas of inquiry are:
- Common Schooling
- Higher Education
- Progressive Era
These three areas form the foundation for the study of history and education at Teachers College. They are broad enough for each student to fid an area of interest that will allow them to build a facility with the literature in these fields.
The other two questions for the certification exam are to be in the student’s area of inquiry. In addition to demonstrating content knowledge in his/her area of research students often find that they are able to write the contextual or introductory part of the proposal with greater ease when these 2 questions have been carefully crafted. Additionally, the development of these questions, with the help of the adviser, will likely aid the student in the formation of the larger research question for the proposal and dissertation. The certification exam is a stepping-stone to the writing of the proposal.
The Dissertation Proposal
At its most basic level, the proposal should constitute a clear and convincing argument that:
- the proposed research will make a contribution to the field
- it is appropriate in size and scope
- it can be carried out by the student.
In 10 to 15 pages, the proposal should:
- Explicitly state the question or theme that will drive the research
- Place the question(s) in the context of prior research (literature review)
- Place the questions(s) within historical parameters and context
- Outline the possible answers to the questions asked
- Describe, in detail, the sources used to investigate the question
- Describe, in detail, where those sources are located
- Describe the method used to analyze the data/documents/sources
- Justify the significance of the research and its place within history and education
- Include a bibliography of relevant work
The research question is the most important part of the proposal for it will drive all inquiry. A simple rule of thumb is that a question that can be answered with a one word answer subsequent (i.e. yes, no, good or bad) is not appropriate. For example, think of the “whys?” and to “what extent” as a starting point for you thinking.
The research context can be addressed in what would formally be called a literature review. It is here that you must draw the parameters of your research as well as what else has been written about it. For example, why study a particular period of 10-50 years? How did you decide the parameters of the study. What have other historians written about this topic? What is missing from what they’ve written. How will your particular study address the gaps in knowledge or provide a new lens for examination?
What sources will you use to answer the research question? The literature review looks at what other scholars have written and provides a historical landscape and context for your work. What primary sources will you use? These should be detailed. For example it is not enough to say “I will use the special collections at TC.” What specific record groups will you look in? Whose papers will be examined? What other collections will you use? The way in which you analyze the sources should be outlined in a methodology section.
You also need to think about the significance of the work. To what fields of study does it contribute? How will it expand or alter earlier perspectives and interpretations of a particular time period or event?
All footnotes/endnotes must be included, written in Chicago Manual of Style format. There are to be no parenthetical citation styles used in the history dissertation. Finally, a bibliography is essential for a complete proposal.
Your Table of Contents for the proposal should include:
Research Context/Lit Review
Conclusion (including significance)
Outline of the dissertation by chapter