The residency is at the heart of the Ph.D. program. During the professional residency, a Ph.D. student is expected to complete one major project. Projects should have statewide or regional visibility, call upon the resident to develop and use multiple skills, call upon the resident to exercise multiple responsibilities in seeing the project to completion, and move the resident forward in the dissertation process. During the residency year, students also attend colloquium sessions at the university (or by teleconferencing) once each month for two consecutive semesters. Students currently employed full-time in a public history-related position need not seek alternative employment. Instead, such students can develop, in cooperation with their employers, a project plan for the year that will allow them to enjoy a qualitatively different experience in the residency year from their normal work year.
The residency proposal is a formal proposal presented to the student's committee in the same session in which they complete the oral portion of the preliminary exams. The proposal is developed in consultation with the student's committee and the proposed partnering institution. Students should begin making arrangements in the year prior to their residency.
The professional mentor should be someone with significant experience in the student's chosen practice field. The professional mentor should have professional qualifications or graduate education or certification equivalent to or greater than the skills/competencies required of the resident in his or her chosen practice field. The professional mentor should be willing and able to attend the Professional Residency Colloquium and to commit to the long-term professional development of the student. The professional mentor need not be employed by the institution where the student is serving his or her residency.
The portfolio is an important part of the doctoral candidate's responsibility. From the point of matriculation each student should begin compiling a portfolio of exemplary work including research papers completed as class assignments, work products from internships or special projects, and especially the work products from the residency. At the end of their residency year, students should also include an essay in which they evaluate their professional residency experience. The portfolio is formally defended at the end of the residency year at the same time as the defense of the dissertation proposal. The residency portfolio serves as a tool, similar to the preliminary exams in the history and interdisciplinary fields, to measure the student's progress in the public history field.
Ph.D. students have done their professional residencies with the following institutions:
- Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee)
- Brockington and Associates (South Carolina)
- Cedars of Lebanon State Park (Tennessee)
- Cooperstown Graduate Program (New York)
- Forest Preserve District of Will County (Illinois)
- Gateway National Recreation Area (New Jersey)
- Mississippi Blues Commission
- Metropolitan Historical Commission (Nashville, Tennessee)
- Stones River National Battlefield (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
- Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
- Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (Nashville)
- Tennessee State Library and Archives (Nashville)
Ph.D. students have taken positions with the following institutions: