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Program of Study

This interdisciplinary Ph.D. program educates students for advanced careers in the heritage professions. Policies and requirements are shown below and in the section of this Bulletin entitled 'Program of Study for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Heritage Studies' in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Applicants are advised that admission to the Graduate School does not imply admission to the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program.

Our program is interdisciplinary, using multiple perspectives to explore and understand the interrelationships of history, culture, and geography in distinctive regions, such as the Mississippi River Delta and in other regions of the United States and the world. The concept of region is central to the Heritage Studies degree. Through case study of a region, the Mississippi River Delta, our students gain an understanding of cultural resource management and interpretation that is applicable in other settings

While universal in scope and method, the Heritage Studies doctoral program uses the distinctive history, attributes, resources, and interests of the Mississippi River Delta as a laboratory. Our students study regional history, anthropology, archaeology, folklore, regional and ethnic literature, and the social sciences. Students develop and refine the traditional doctoral-level research skills, but as heritage professionals their expertise will be applied, practical, and public dissemination of history and culture.


Program of Study

Only students admitted to the Ph.D. program in Heritage Studies will be eligible for the Master of Arts (MA) in Heritage Studies. This MA degree is granted 'en route' to the Ph.D. To receive this master's degree, the doctoral student must complete the requirements in core courses (12 semester credit hours minimum), specialty area (12 semester credit hours minimum), enrichment (12 semester credit hours minimum), and the capstone research seminar (3 semester credit hours).This capstone seminar is the culmination of a student's class work and will result in an intensive research paper that demonstrates the student's comprehensive understanding of Heritage Studies when focused on a specific topic. The research paper from this course is the equivalent of a written exam for the MA degree in Heritage Studies.

All requirements for approval of credit in core courses, specialty area, and enrichment that apply for the Ph.D. program also apply for a doctoral student who requests the MA in Heritage Studies.

General Requirements

Doctoral students are required to complete a minimum of 57 semester hours beyond the master's degree.

For students without a master's degree, the Doctoral Advisory Committee and the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program Committee, on a case-by-case basis, may require additional hours of credit beyond the minimum of eighteen semester hours indicated below. No more than nine credits earned while completing a master's degree may be applied toward the 57 credit requirement unless approved by the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program Committee at the request of the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee. Applicants admitted to the program without a master's degree will be required to have completed a minimum of eighteen hours of graduate work before they will be allowed to take level 7000 courses. These eighteen hours are in addition to the 57 semester hours of credit required for the Ph.D. in Heritage Studies.

If a student completed a portion of these eighteen hours before admission to the Ph.D. program, up to nine semester hours of those graduate level courses may be applied as Transfer Credit (see below). In some cases, documented work experience in the Heritage professions may be substituted for specific courses.

Advisory Committees

It is the responsibility of the Doctoral Advisory Committee to work with a student to develop a specific course of study. Each student is expected to initiate this process by identifying a doctoral dissertation advisor who will chair the advisory committee. The members of Doctoral Advisory Committees must be drawn from Arkansas State University graduate faculty. Each committee must have at least three members. No more than two members may represent the same academic discipline. Committee membership is subject to the approval of the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program Committee.

The Director of the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program will serve as the initial advisor for students entering the program. In this capacity, the Director will institute a tentative curriculum for the student pending establishment of the Doctoral Advisory Committee. Before beginning the final year of course work or no later than after the completion of 30 semester credit hours of study, the student in consultation with the Director is expected to have selected a dissertation advisor, formed a Doctoral Advisory Committee, and declared a course of study.

The course of study set by the committee must meet program requirements and match the student's academic goals, scholarly aspirations and career preparation needs. Each Doctoral Advisory Committee will meet at least once a year to review the student's progress.

The committee is to review the student's dissertation proposal and to provide guidance toward the successful completion of this substantial project. Once the student has passed the Qualifying and Candidacy Exams and has an approved dissertation topic, the Doctoral Advisory Committee may add new members to help with directing and assessing the dissertation work. In these cases, it is strongly recommended that at least one new member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee be an individual of national repute with extensive professional experience at an appropriate public program in cultural heritage.

Membership of advisory committees may be changed if either the student or a member of the committee feels that such a change is appropriate. The requested change must be reviewed and approved by Director of the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program and then approved by the Program Committee.

Degree Plan

A course of study, to be developed by the student and approved by the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee, is to be submitted to the Director of the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program before the end of the first 12 months after beginning the program full time, or before completing 18 semester credit hours of study.

As a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, each student is expected to develop a course of study tailored to his or her own scholarly interests, research program, and proposed career direction. The specific quantity and content of each student's course of study will be worked out with that student's Advisor and the Doctoral Advisory Committee within the parameters set forth for the program as a whole.

Level of Work Required

57 semester credit hours are required for completion of this program. Only in the most exceptional cases will any class that is not designated a master's or doctoral-level (5000 and above at Arkansas State) be accepted. These exceptions must be approved by the Doctoral Advisory Committee, the Program Director, and the Program Committee. Doctoral Advisory Committees also will take great care when approving any course at the 5000 level. Special justification will be needed for such courses and typically no more than six semester hours of 5000 level course work will be approved for a student's program of study. With permission of the professor, advanced master's level students may enroll in doctoral level Heritage Studies classes.

Transfer Credit

No more than nine master's level credit hours earned before admission to the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program may be applied toward the 57-credit-hour requirements unless requested by the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee and approved by the Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program Committee. Decisions regarding acceptability of transfer credits are to be made by the Program Committee, upon recommendation from a student's Doctoral Advisory Committee, within the context of that student's course of study and subject to approval by the Graduate School. Students will be held responsible on the qualifying and candidacy exams for the content of all courses within their course of study.

Grades and Credit

Courses completed during prior master's work must have received a grade of B or better to be credited towards the degree. A single grade of C will be accepted for courses in the Ph.D. program. A second instance of a grade of C or a single instance of a grade below C will be cause for the review of the student's status within the program by the Heritage Studies Program Committee. After such review, the Heritage Studies Program Committee may recommend dismissal of the student from the program.

Admission to Candidacy

Upon successful completion of the oral component of the candidacy examination, the student is formally designated a candidate for the Ph.D. in Heritage Studies.

Continuous Enrollment

Prior to the completion of the candidacy exam, any leave from the program of six months or less must be approved by the Program Director. Any leave of six months or longer must be approved by the Director and the Program Committee. Students who have taken leave from the program for more than two years, at the determination of the Director and Program Committee, may be required to apply formally for readmission and to update specific courses.

Students must maintain continuous enrollment subsequent to passing the candidacy examination. They must maintain a minimum of one semester hour of dissertation credit during each regular semester, including at least one summer term each year, until the dissertation has been accepted by the Dean of the Graduate School.

Time to Degree

All requirements for the degree must be completed within eight calendar years of admission to the program. Requirements subsequent to the candidacy examination must be completed within four calendar years of the date of successful completion of that examination. Students exceeding the time limit may be required to repeat the candidacy exam, replace out-of-date credits with up-to-date ones, and/or show other evidence of being current within both the core curriculum and the student's area of specialization. Extension of the eight-year requirement will be granted only if a student has obtained prior approval from his or her Doctoral Advisory Committee, the Heritage Studies Program Committee and the Arkansas State University Graduate School.


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.


It is assumed that all written work submitted in any Heritage Studies course will be in the student's own words, and that any ideas or quotations from others’ work will be clearly indicated with full citations.

Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic, personal, and professional integrity, which may result not only in a failing grade for a particular course, but also in expulsion from Arkansas State University.

If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please consult with your individual course instructor, the Program Director, Dr. Lauri Umansky, or the Associate Director, Dr. Brady Banta.

Graduation Checklist

In the last semester before graduation, candidates must:

1. Register for the Graduation fee.
2. File an intent to graduate form with the graduate dean by the relevant deadline.
3. Complete the oral defense of the dissertation.
4. Pay the fee for binding the dissertation.

Submit four copies of the dissertation for binding and microfilming. This is detailed in the Guide for Writers of Dissertations and Theses.