The department offers the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in history of science, medicine, and technology. Graduate instruction leads to research and teaching careers in the history of science, medical history, history of technology, intellectual and cultural history, science in general education programs, science writing, and museum work.

The department offers one of the largest and most diverse such programs in the United States. It addresses the development of the sciences, medicine, and technology in their social and intellectual contexts, including attention to institutions, philosophy, religion, literature, and visual and material culture. It also invites students to develop cognate interests in areas as diverse as science studies, environmental history, gender and women's studies, history of pharmacy, and philosophy of science. Faculty provide broad coverage, with expertise that spans Europe, the United States, and non-Western areas from the Middle Ages to the present, and ranges across the physical, biological, and social sciences to medicine and technology.

An M.A. degree for students entering with an advanced health professional degree is designed for students with doctoral training in one of the health professions who wish to pursue a master’s degree with a concentration in medical history.

Joint Ph.D. in History and History of Science

Students who wish to obtain a joint Ph.D. in history and history of science, medicine, and technology are initially admitted to one of the degree programs, and should indicate interest in the joint Ph.D. program at that time. After completion of a master’s degree in history or history of science, medicine, and technology (or an approved alternative), the student applies for admission to the other degree program and, at the same time, to a standing committee of the two degree programs for admission to the joint program. Having been admitted to the other degree program and to the joint program, the student then applies to the Graduate School for approval of the joint Ph.D. (See the Graduate School's academic policy regarding joint degrees for more information and deadlines.) The student’s application to the standing committee should take the same form as required by the Graduate School and should be prepared in close consultation with department faculty/staff.

Students in the joint Ph.D. program are assigned a home degree program and follow the regulations of that program with regard to seminar requirements, language requirements, financial aid, and regulations for satisfactory progress. Since the joint Ph.D. meets the doctoral minor requirement of the Graduate School, no formal minor is required of students receiving a joint Ph.D. However, students who wish to have a minor field recorded on the transcript may complete a regular Option A or Option B minor.

The joint Ph.D. student’s work is supervised by a committee consisting of three faculty members (two from the home degree program). The preliminary examinations test the student’s competence in both history and history of science, medicine, and technology, balancing the material and fields between the two departments (e.g., two in each, or three in one and two in the other).  The number of prelim fields must equal the number required of students majoring exclusively in history or in history of science, medicine, and technology, plus one. Preparation of the Ph.D. dissertation is guided by the student's supervising committee. Satisfactory completion and defense of the dissertation constitute the final requirements for the joint Ph.D. degree.

Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least 50% of the required coursework must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Total credits transferred for the Ph.D. requirements, including those approved for the M.A., may not exceed 19 credits. No credits earned more than ten years before admission to the Ph.D. program may be used. A maximum of 5 credits earned between five and ten years before admission to the Ph.D. program may be used. No credits carrying a grade below B may be applied toward graduate credit requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. No credits carrying a grade below B are transferable.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Contact the program for information on any additional required courses.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

Doctoral students must complete a doctoral minor.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement


Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

Assessment and Examinations

Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary/oral examination after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis). Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Language Requirements

Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

For admission to graduate study, a high-quality undergraduate record is more important than the particular program pursued. Graduate students have begun work in the History of Science with a wide variety of undergraduate majors ranging across the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, although some prior exposure to college-level study of history is desirable.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Regardless of whether or not an individual is awarded a master's degree in HSMT at the UW–Madison, the doctoral level learning goals are inclusive of the master's level learning goals.
  • Articulates research problems clearly and understands the limits of current theories, knowledge, or practices within HSMT.
  • Pushes the boundaries of current knowledge in HSMT in formulating research questions, in the selection or use of primary sources, or in interpreting evidence.
  • Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  • Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  • Gains appropriate experience relating to designing and teaching university-level courses.
  • Is able to articulate the broader significance of their work and the discipline of HSMT to scholars in other fields or disciplines and to the wider public.

Professional Conduct

  • Fosters ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Hsia (chair), Broman, Keller, Lederer, Mitman, Nyhart, Schatzberg; Associate Professor Houck; Assistant Professors Gómez, Jackson, Nelson; Senior Lecturer Rider