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The curriculum for the Ph.D. in Heritage Studies consists of the following:

Core Courses

12 hours from the following courses:
  • HS 7003, Introduction to Heritage Studies, Research, and Writing (3 hrs)
  • HS 7103, Concepts of Culture (3 hrs)
  • HS 7113, Regional Cultures: History of the Mississippi River Delta (3 hrs)
  • HS 7123, Management Issues in the Heritage Professions (3 hrs)
  • HS 7133, Cultural Resource Methods (3 hrs)

Most students will take all five core classes, one of which will be applied to the Specialty Area or the Enrichment classes explained below. Some students may have taken a class equivalent to one of the five core courses and with the permission of the student's doctoral advisory committee will be permitted to take only four core classes.

Specialty Area

12 hours

Four courses that demonstrate the doctoral student's area of specialization within Heritage Studies. Under the direction of the doctoral advisory committee that is chaired by the individual student's graduate advisor, the four courses will establish an area of expertise that combines interdisciplinary emphasis and multi-cultural content with professional training (in archiving or museum work, for example). A maximum of one internship for three hours credit may be applied to the Specialty Area.


12 hours

Four courses that demonstrate study and professional training beyond the individual student's Specialty Area. Under the direction of the doctoral advisory committee these four courses will address areas that will enrich the student's research and work in Heritage Studies with special attention to expanding interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. A maximum of one internship for three hours credit may be applied to Enrichment.

Required Capstone

3 hours

HS 7213, Research Seminar


Students must complete 300 work hours as a quasi-professional in a culture, heritage, or public history environment. After completion of this work experience, students will provide a written assessment of the Practicum. At the discretion of the doctoral advisory committee, adjustments may be made for students with extensive professional experience in public heritage programs.

Qualifying and Candidacy Exams

After completion of the curriculum and the practicum, including the capstone Research Seminar the Doctoral Advisory Committee will schedule a qualifying examination of the student's work in the doctoral program.

Successful completion of this qualifying examination will allow the committee to schedule a candidacy exam. The format of the qualifying and candidacy exams for all students is established by the Heritage Studies Program Committee. Successful completion of the candidacy exam which includes approval of a dissertation proposal allows the student to be formally recognized as a candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy in Heritage Studies.

The qualifying and candidacy examinations are designed to test general knowledge of Heritage Studies as well as the student's expertise in specialized areas of research and interest. Students are expected to successfully complete each exam in the first full semester following completion of all course work in the course of study. These exams have a mandatory oral component. In advance of each oral exam, a student prepares a portfolio. Exams will be administered no later than one week before the close of fall and spring semesters. Students intending to take qualifying and candidacy exams must submit an intent form to the office of the program director no later than the end of the sixth week after the beginning of classes in the semester in which they intend to take the exam.

Each student will create a Portfolio before each exam that will be examined by the Doctoral Advisory Committee which also will serve as the examination committee. The Portfolio must be available to the committee two weeks before the scheduled exam. The exam itself will consist of an oral interview of no more than one hour for the qualifying exam and no more than two hours for the candidacy exam. At each exam the student will explain and defend what is in the Portfolio.

The Portfolio for the Qualifying Exam will contain:

A major example of the student's work from EACH of the three divisions of the doctoral curriculum (the core, specialty area, and enrichment). These THREE EXAMPLES from the student's course work are improved and enhanced before they are placed in the portfolio. The first example will be drawn from one of the required core seminars. The second example of enrichment may come from any class in the Heritage Studies program, other than a core seminar or the capstone research seminar, that demonstrates breadth and depth in terms of the student's studies. The third example will be the research paper from the capstone research seminar (HS 7213). It is required as the representation of the specialty area and as a significant example of the student's writing.

The Portfolio for the Candidacy Exam will contain:
  • A meaningful essay of no more than twelve-hundred (1,200) words that gives the student's scholarly and intellectual explanation of what is "Heritage Studies"
  • An interpretive essay that explains effectively the student’s choices of 20 sources that are vital for the understanding of “Heritage Studies.” At least 10 of these 20 sources must be books. The student’s choices may also include important articles, films, archives, festivals, museums or other substantial examples.
  • A written report that assesses the student's 300-hour Practicum accompanied by a letter from the supervisor, or coordinator, of the Practicum.
  • The final version of the student's dissertation proposal.

The oral component for the qualifying and candidacy exams are conducted by the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee. In case of failure, the exam may be retaken if the committee feels that improvements in the Portfolio are justified and can be carried out by the student within an additional period of time as specified by the committee. A second failure of either the qualifying or candidacy exam will result in dismissal from the program. Students may not undertake the candidacy exam until after they have successfully completed the qualifying exam.


18 hours

Each candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy in Heritage Studies must execute an original and rigorous research project culminating in the completion, public presentation, and defense of a dissertation.

Approval of Dissertation Research

The student's Doctoral Advisory Committee must approve the dissertation proposal at the Candidacy Exam. As the student progresses in completing the dissertation, minor modifications of the proposal may be approved by the chair of the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee who is also the director for the dissertation itself. Any major changes in the dissertation proposal require the approval of the on-campus members of the expanded Doctoral Advisory Committee. Students are also advised to seek the appropriate institutional approval of proposed research, as necessary, from the Institutional Review Board.

Dissertation Defense

After the research is completed the student will submit a draft to his or her advisory committee. Upon the recommendation of the committee, the candidate will arrange with the chair of his or her advisory committee to schedule and conduct an open, public presentation of the results to which members of the faculty and master's and doctoral students will be invited.

In advance of this public presentation, the candidate will also be required to orally defend the dissertation before the expanded Doctoral Advisory Committee including any new members from outside Arkansas State University such as cultural heritage professionals. Arrangements for the public presentation and dissertation defense will be made through the Heritage Studies Program Office. Students are advised to be aware of the deadlines set by the Graduate School for submission of defense results and dissertations.

The defense must occur at least four weeks before the date of graduation. The defense is failed if more than one negative vote is cast by the members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee who are members of the Arkansas State University graduate faculty. In this case the student is placed on probation. A student who fails the defense must wait at least one semester before attempting a second defense of the dissertation. A second public presentation will not be required. If a repeat defense is failed, the Doctoral Advisory Committee will recommend the student's removal from Ph.D. candidacy standing.

Final Form

The completed dissertation may consist of several elements, such as a museum exhibition curated by the student or a video documentary. Nonetheless, all dissertations will include an extensive written statement that places the dissertation in its scholarly, intellectual context as a representation of heritage studies. Other important parts of the dissertation project may be written as well and a completed dissertation may include extensive appendices. The written component of the dissertation will follow the style and format requirements from the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style unless an alternate scholarly style is approved by the Doctoral Advisory Committee and the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of candidates to assure that this written component of the dissertation follows the appropriate, designated format. Before submission to the Graduate Dean, the entire on campus membership of the advisory committee must approve the completed dissertation.

Candidates will submit four copies of the written component of the dissertation. The bound copies will be on file with the ASU Library, the Heritage Studies Program Director, and the chair of the advisory committee. The remaining copy will be given to the student. The Graduate School may require a copy as well.

The Abstract

Candidates will be responsible for the preparation of an abstract of the dissertation, which will be submitted at the same time as the completed dissertation project. The abstract must not exceed 300 words and will be bound with the written component of the dissertation.

Deadline for Submission

The completed dissertation and abstract, signed by all members of the advisory committee, must be in the office of the Dean of the Graduate School by the deadline set for accepting dissertations. The date for each semester and summer term is given in the University Calendar.