Modern World History, Doctor of Arts

St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Queens Campus


The Doctor of Arts is an established alternative to the Ph.D. degree. In the 1960s and 1970s, universities embraced Doctor of Arts degree programs to prepare students for careers as master teachers with an especially in-depth knowledge of a specific specialization.

At St. John’s, the D.A. in Modern World History offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of world history, focusing on modernization and seeking to encourage global awareness in the teaching of history. The program provides students the opportunity to pursue doctoral level work in the area of modern world history in an interdisciplinary setting, focusing on modernization and globalization while encouraging a global awareness in the teaching of history. 


There are two types of Doctoral Fellowships available in the Department of History. Academic merit is the sole criterion for selection. Fellowships do not require full-time graduate study.

University Doctor of Arts Fellowships (UDAF)
For part-timer students, this fellowship carries 6 credits per semester with no stipend.

Doctoral Fellowship
For full time students, this fellowship carries 12 credits of tuition per semester and a stipend.

Department Contact

Nerina Rustomji, Ph.D.
Graduate Director
St. John Hall 244C

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Applicants have the following entrance requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a 24-credit minimum in history; applicants with graduate credits in history may request transfer credit for advanced standing, as determined by the Admissions Committee
  • A cumulative G.P.A. of at least 3.0 overall and a minimum of 3.5 in history
  • Three letters of recommendation, two attesting to the applicant’s academic quality
  • A recent sample of written work and a personal statement detailing the student’s professional goals. Applicants with a master’s degree including at least 15 graduate credits in history and an index of 3.5 or better in these courses may earn advanced standing as determined by the Admission Committee and Dean.

Program Requirements
72 Credits minimum beyond B.A. degree

15 Credits
100 to 500-level history courses, including HIS 401
Students who already possess an M.A. with at least 15 credits in graduate history are exempt from this requirement.

9 Credits
Completion of three required interdisciplinary seminars
HIS 710 ( taken immediately after the 15 credits of 100 to 500-level courses)
HIS 750 ( taken immediately after the 15 credits of 100 to 500-level courses)
HIS 799 (taken as the final course before comprehensive exams)

24 Credits
700-level courses

Qualifying Examination
Successful performance at the completion of 18 credits for students entering with an M.A. and 33 credits for those with the B.A. Students who leave the program after satisfactorily completing this exam may ask to receive the M.A. degree upon completion of requisite credits and requirements.

12 Credits
Professional Skills courses (800s) in teaching history
Including a three-credit Practicum

6 Credits
Teaching Internship (HIS 905, 906)
A two-semester, six-credit experience completed under faculty supervision.

Additional Requirements

  • Demonstration of writing competence in English either by examination or completion of a course in advanced composition (not to count toward the D.A. degree).
  • Reading proficiency in a relevant foreign language, as determined by the Department Chair.
  • 48 credit hours in course work, six credits of Teaching Internship and six credits for writing the dissertation (Doctor of Arts Research). With prior teaching experience, the Teaching Internship may be waived.

A minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 must be maintained; courses with a grade lower than B are not counted toward the degree. Foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by a B or higher in an advanced college-level language course; satisfactory scores on ETS or other University-approved language exams; or a two-semester reading course offered by the Department of Languages and Literatures.

Upon completing course work, students take their comprehensive examination. This examination covers the entire area of the student's field of study. After the comprehensive exam, students work on their dissertation until the dissertation is successfully defended.  Students select an academic mentor and committee of readers to guide their research and progress. The dissertation is defended in an oral examination before the committee, subject to the Dean’s approval.

Application Deadline
While there is no application deadline for this program, we strongly encourage you to apply as early as possible in the admission cycle.

Contact Us

We strongly encourage potential applicants to schedule a personal informational interview with our Office of Graduate Admission. In addition, each semester the office holds several open houses and online chats for potential applicants. To learn more about open houses and to set up a personal interview, please contact the Office of Graduate Admission at 718-990-1601 or

Office of Graduate Admission

Office of International Admission

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Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Doctor of Arts degree?
It is a doctoral degree with a strong pedagogical component. Our D.A. program is not as narrowly focused as most Ph.D. programs, but rather pairs the highest quality of scholarship in a broad area with courses in the teaching of history, as well as student teaching.

The Doctor of Arts in Modern World History is a liberal arts program designed for teachers in four-year colleges, community colleges, and secondary schools. It provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of modern world history, focusing upon modernization and encouraging global awareness in teaching.

The degree emerged as a result of problems encountered by higher education in the late 1960s, in particular the dissatisfaction with the training received by college teachers. A doctoral program with a different orientation was sought as an alternative for those who teach or planned to teach. As it evolved in the 1970s, the Doctor of Arts stressed teaching competence in a broad subject area. It includes a research component which has practical applicability in the classroom with either academic or professional competence or both.

This Doctor of Arts in Modern World History is solidly grounded in history and integrated with a diversity of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, geography, philosophy, political science, religious studies and sociology.

What does the program specifically offer teachers and those who plan to go into teaching?
In addition to providing the global perspective that today's teachers need, this program gives students pedagogical training in an intellectually rigorous environment. The doctoral research essay, required for completion of the degree, must have a pedagogical dimension. Thus, our students are trained to teach.

What does the program offer those who do not plan to go into teaching?
This program also has a great deal to offer those involved in global business, diplomacy, media and communications, and government, as well as other professions with a global outlook. The program provides a framework for understanding global issues, but also gives training in the history and culture of specific countries and regions, based on the in-depth knowledge and expertise of our faculty.

Do I need an M.A. to enter the D.A. program?
No. We admit qualified students who have completed the Bachelor’s Degree. However, most students entering the program must have successfully completed a bachelor's degree, with at least 18 credits in history or other coursework with a strong historical component as well as nine credits in related fields.

Learning Objectives

The program will prepare graduates to:

Integrate advanced knowledge of modern world history with theories and methods of history and other disciplines, such as anthropology, English and literature, geography, government and political science, philosophy, religious studies and sociology. 

  • Compare, contrast and analyze long-term processes and dynamics of change in the areas of concentration developed by the student.
  • Identify, define and analyze theories and methodologies of history that assist our understanding of modern world history.
  • Identify, define and analyze theories and methodologies in the social sciences and humanities that assist understanding of modern world history, related to the interdisciplinary orientation of the program and the specific courses taken by students.

Demonstrate critical and analytical skills required for an advanced reading and interpretation of the documents and texts used in historical analysis.

  • Critically evaluate information and sources.
  • Situate primary sources in their historical context.
  • Demonstrate ability to entertain empathetically the diverse viewpoints of individuals and groups, represented in documents, texts and other sources.
  • Articulate an intellectually coherent interpretation of historical events and processes, grounded in documents and texts under study.

Conduct sound ethical research, demonstrating proficiency in information literacy and the basic tools of historical research.

  • Design research objectives appropriate to various assignments.
  • Locate needed information from a variety of sources.
  • Critically evaluate information and sources.
  • Situate primary and secondary sources in their historical context.
  • Integrate information effectively to accomplish the planned objective.
  • Use information ethically and legally, related to the research traditions of our discipline.

Demonstrate an effective communication style in a variety of written formats and in the style appropriate to the discipline of history.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of specific requirements of assignment.
  • Formulate an intellectually coherent argument, claim or hypothesis, relevant to assignment.
  • Use multiple, reliable sources, correctly cited to support claim.
  • Use effective word choice, sentence variety and standard written English competently.
  • Demonstrate effective reflection, evaluation, and revisions of written work, relevant to the assignment.

Demonstrate understanding and explanation of the historiographical traditions and issues that serve as a foundation to our discipline.

  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the basic development of the discipline of history over time.
  • Give examples of the controversies and debates that have divided historians over time, related to the specific courses taken by the student.
  • Independently analyze the issues and concerns that have driven the discipline of history at different points in time.

Demonstrate recognition, understanding, and respect for the complexity of diverse socio-cultural and historical traditions.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of other cultures and societies, related to the requirements of the major.
  • Conceive viewpoints from a variety of socio-cultural and historical perspectives.

Apply theories and methods of historical inquiry in conjunction with the interdisciplinary framework of the program for the purpose of teaching history in various settings.

  • Identify, define and analyze theories and methodologies for teaching modern world history.
  • Apply theories and methods of historical inquiry about modern world history to the teaching of history in the classroom.
  • Design and integrate into a doctoral research essay an educational component that relates the subject matter of the essay to a pedagogical objective.
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Success Story

Professor of History
History Professor Invited to Join Fulbright Selection Committee