Graduate Courses

Graduate degrees in history begin with coursework. In the first years in the program a full-time student will take three courses per semester until she or he has satisfactorily completed the program requirement of 27 hours (for M.A. students) or 55 hours (for Ph.D. students).

Graduate programs are right for intellectually curious individuals who enjoy reading, thinking, writing, and researching. However, graduate programs are also hard work. During coursework, students read a minimum of three books a week, every week, on top of the work put into researching and writing in-depth research papers. Pursuing a degree in history requires a significant investment of time and effort as well as a willingness to have your work critiqued.

The University Bulletin lists all the courses currently in the Auburn curriculum. Note that these course offerings may change in response to student enrollment, faculty availability, changes in program requirements, and other circumstances. 

There are four types of graduate courses taught at Auburn.

  1. Seminar Courses
    Seminar courses (numbered among the Department’s HIST 7000-level options) make up the majority of a Ph.D. student’s coursework while in the program. Small groups meet regularly with a professor to discuss a particular book or topics prepared in advance. All students are expected to participate actively in the discussion. This form of teaching does not involve lectures. If unfamiliar with the background to a topic, students are normally expected read up on it by themselves.
  2. Lecture Courses
    Lecture courses are numbered HIST 6000–6970 and are taught in conjunction with parallel undergraduate courses. While they are called “lecture” courses, they will normally involve other forms of learning interaction.
  3. Reading Courses
    Readings Courses are numbered HIST 8000–8600. They consist of regular meetings with a professor to discuss particular books or topics, prepared in advance. The workload will be equivalent to that of a seminar. Students taking readings courses are normally expected to have had prior coursework in the field.
  4. Research Seminars
    Research seminars permit students to concentrate exclusively on research and writing a seminar paper of publishable quality. Enrolled students meet regularly with a designated professor over the course of the semester.

Mandatory Courses

Some courses are mandatory. All M.A. and Ph.D. students are required to take HIST 7700 (Historical Methods). Ph.D. students are, in addition, required to take HIST 8700 (Historiography and Theory of History), and HIST 8710 (Introduction to the Teaching of History).

Elective Courses

Other courses are elective. Ph.D. students should note, however, minimum course requirements for minor and breadth fields, and plan accordingly from early in their degree. All students must consult the GPO before making course choices.

In addition, students adding the Public History certificate to their M.A. or Ph.D. degree may count internship opportunities towards their coursework.

Dissertation and Research

Once coursework is completed students sign up for HIST 7990 (Research and Thesis) or HIST 8990 (Research and Dissertation). All full- and part-time degree-seeking graduate students must be continuously enrolled. Continuous enrollment is defined as registration, with fees paid in full, in at least two semesters in a given academic year (fall, spring, summer) until the degree is awarded.


Registration at Auburn University is electronic. Students register for courses on the university website (via AU Access). Newly admitted students must be cleared for registration by the Graduate School and the Registrar’s Office. Instructions and procedures for registration can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar.

Last Updated: October 19, 2017