History, PhD

The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies' PhD program in history offers candidates the opportunity to study the past and also prepare for a competitive career with skills such as research methods and professional writing strategies. The program offers outstanding opportunities for graduate study in North American and European history with thematic concentrations in subject matters that are affecting the world today, such as indigenous history, urban history, environment and sustainability studies, politics and policy, immigration, gender, race and ethnicity, culture and world/comparative history. 

Candidates work with an esteemed faculty of award-winning historians to cultivate skills that prepare them for professional careers in business, historical societies and agencies, leading academic institutions and the public sector.

6 years to degree
33 faculty members
63% are funded

Degree Overview

The PhD history program requires a minimum of 84 credit hours and includes coursework, the demonstration of an advanced research skill related to the primary field of study, a qualifying exam, a prospectus and dissertation, as well as an internship for public history students. 

The focus of the history program is to encourage the development of advanced skills in research, critical analysis, writing and teaching needed for a professional career. The PhD program enables the recipient to seek professional employment as a faculty member in higher education, researcher, teacher or public historian. Students may enter the PhD program either directly with a BA or, more commonly, with a master’s degree in hand.

How to apply

Admission to the History PhD program is selective. Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution. 

A full application requires:

Application deadline is January 15. 

For more information on the application process and requirements, please click here

During my time at SHPRS, I was fortunate to be encouraged by faculty to pursue innovative ideas in teaching such as incorporating experiential and adaptive learning techniques. Through their encouragement, support and flexibility, such techniques both in the classroom and online have expanded my skills as an instructor and prepared me for my future teaching career.

Judith Perera, current PhD candidate 


History PhD students select three committee members to guide their program of study and designate three fields of study in which they will conduct their coursework. One field must be geographic, one thematic and a third can be either geographic or thematic. One geographic field must be either an entire country, continent or an area comparable in size that might constitute the kind of field covered in an undergraduate survey course. Fields will be defined by each student and their committee members, then approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Mastery of course content in these fields will be evaluated in Qualifying Examinations. 

Requirements and ElectivesHours
Required Core Areas16
Electives and Research44-50*
Culminating Experience  12
Other Requirements12
Total Required Hours84

*Students entering with an MA may apply 30 credit hours toward the 84 required credit hours with approval of the academic unit and the Graduate College. These 30 credit hours will be applied toward elective requirements.

Courses and electives

Students select courses under the advisement of their Committee Chair/Research Advisor. 

Below is a list of courses that may be offered in the program with an associated category. The list may change depending on the faculty member who teaches the course in a given semester.

HST 640: Historical Theory and Methodology (3 credits)
HST 502: Public History Methodology (3 credits)
HST 641: North American History (3 credits)
HST 642: European History (3 credits)
HST 643: Global History (3 credits)
HST 682: Advanced Research Skill (1 credit)

HST 591: Research and Writing the American Experience (3 credits)
HST 591: Historic Preservation (3 credits)
HST 591: Race and Culture in American History (3 credits)
HST 591: Community History (3 credits)
HST 591: Writing Cultural History (3 credits)
HST 591: History and the Environment (3 credits)
HST 591: Oral History & Biography (3 credits)
HST 591: Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (3 credits)
HST 598: Religion and Communities (3 credits)
HST 598: Global Environmental History (3 credits)
HST 598: Global Migration Studies (3 credits)
HST 598: Incarceration, Immigration, and the Borderlands (3 credits)
HST 598: Public History Lab (3 credits)
HST 598: Digital Humanities (3 credits)
HST 598: Gender, Sex, and Women’s History in the US (3 credits)
HST 598: Exhibit Design (3 credits)
HST 598: North American Cultural Landscapes (3 credits)
HST 598: Capitalism (3 credits)
HST 598: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Postcolonialism (3 credits)
HST 598: Global Connections: Spies, Pirates & Travelers (3 credits)

HST 792: Dissertation Research (6-12 credits)

HST 799: Dissertation (12 credits)

HST 591: Seminar (6 credits)
HST 792: Research (6 credits)

For list of PhD placements, click here