With some 130 graduate students and nearly 60 faculty members, the Department of History is home to one of the oldest, most distinguished, and most comprehensive graduate programs in the U.S., renowned for its long and valued tradition of collegiality and openness. We offer separate graduate degrees in History and in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. All told, our internationally recognized faculty has been mentoring distinguished historians since 1893.
Our degree program in History is designed to meet the needs of the Ph.D. candidate, and we offer funding only to students who intend to pursue the Ph.D. However, we also welcome applications from students who wish to earn only the M.A. if they have external funding or are self-funded.
Graduate training in the History degree program is organized by primary fields of study. Although most of our students are trained in a single field of study, students whose research interests span more than one field have the option to craft an individual plan of study.
We offer the following primary fields of study in the History degree program:
- African History
- East Asian History
- European History—Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern
- Latin American and Caribbean History
- Middle Eastern History
- South Asian History
- Southeast Asian History
- United States History
Within their primary field of study, students also have the opportunity to organize their studies thematically. Our faculty’s special thematic strengths are in:
- Borderlands and diasporas
- Environmental history
- Gender and Women’s History, Program in
- History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
- Intellectual and cultural history
- Jewish History, Program in
- Labor and political economy
- Race, ethnicity, and indigeneity
- Religion and ritual
- War in Society and Culture Program
Our faculty train resourceful researchers, committed teachers, and engaged public intellectuals. We offer a rigorous course of study that combines independent and collaborative work and that emphasizes scholarly and intellectual connectedness. The department strongly supports the Wisconsin Idea, the principle that education should influence and improve people's lives beyond the university classroom. For more than 100 years, this idea has guided the university's work. Students pursue a variety of careers, both inside and outside the academy.
Bridge Program with UW–Madison's Afro-American Studies
This academic partnership designed is to allow students to complete the M.A. in Afro-American Studies and the Ph.D. in History. It enables the Afro-American Studies student who specializes in the History area to meet the basic requirements of the History M.A. while completing a degree in Afro-American Studies. Students may apply simultaneously to the two departments or may apply to the Department of History after they begin their program in the Department of Afro-American Studies, usually in the fall of the first or second M.A. year.
For details, see The Bridge Program or contact the graduate program coordinator.
Joint Ph.D. in History and History of Science
Students who wish to obtain a joint Ph.D. in History and the 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, the student applies for admission to the other degree program and, at the same time, to a standing committee of the two programs for admission to the joint program.
Having been admitted to the other degree program and to the joint Ph.D. 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 degree 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, or the internal minor of the department.
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.
Joint Ph.D. with other degree programs
History degree program students who wish to pursue a joint Ph.D. (one degree, two majors) with another degree program must first be admitted to the other degree program. The proposal for the degree must be approved by the Department of History's Graduate Council before it is submitted to the Graduate School. Students admitted to a joint Ph.D. will satisfy all the normal requirements of their field in History except the minor requirement.
For more information on joint Ph.D. options, please contact the graduate program coordinator.
Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.
Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.
|Fall Deadline||December 1|
|Spring Deadline||This program does not admit in the spring.|
|Summer Deadline||This program does not admit in the summer.|
|GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)||Required.*|
|English Proficiency Test||Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).|
|Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT)||n/a|
|Letters of Recommendation Required||3|
Applicants may request a waiver.
All applicants must meet UW–Madison Graduate School's minimum applicant requirements, in addition to the below History Graduate Program requirements described below.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: DECEMBER 1ST
To apply, applicants must submit or declare the following in the online application:
History Supplemental Application
This section of the application asks you to provide information about your research interests, declare your preferred faculty advisors, and outline your prior language preparation (if any).
Provide a sample that best illustrates the quality of your written work (optimally no more than 50 pages, double-spaced; maximum file size 6 MB).
Upload an unofficial copy of your transcript from all institutions attended, showing any undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded. If accepted, you will be required to send two official transcripts from each institution.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
GRE test scores are required for admission to our program, and the test must have been taken within the last 5 years. Students requesting a hardship waiver should contact the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History.
CV or Resumé
This should highlight your accomplishments and qualifications including academic honors or distinctions; professional, research, and/or teaching experience; and any publications.
Letters of recommendation
Provide contact information for the three individuals who will furnish recommendations on your behalf. (They will receive an upload link by email.) Your letter writers need not be historians, but they should be able to speak to your academic preparation to pursue historical studies at the graduate level.
Statement of purpose
The statement of purpose (2–3 pages, double-spaced) explains your reasons for graduate study. It may be the hardest part of the application to write, but it is also the most important. While you will likely include some autobiographical information, its primary purpose is to acquaint us with how your mind works. We want to know, for example, what kinds of intellectual problems and issues interest you, whose stories intrigue you, what sorts of analytical or narrative approaches you like to pursue, which historical writings you admire—and your reasons for these various preferences. Please help us understand your decision to enter the historical profession, especially at a time when the academic job market is in decline, and how you see your own role in it. There is no single right way to approach this part of the application, but we suggest that you bear in mind the usual cautions for personal writing: speak straightforwardly, in your own voice, and write as well as you know how.
All international applicants must also meet the English Proficiency requirements set forth by the Graduate School.
For additional detail about the admissions process, please visit the Prospective Student pages on our website.
Graduate School Resources
Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.
We offer funding only to students who intend to pursue the Ph.D.—an application for admission to our Ph.D. program, therefore, is an application for funding. We also welcome applications from students who have external funding or are self-funded, including those pursuing the M.A. only.*
MULTI-YEAR FUNDING PACKAGE
If you apply to the History Ph.D. degree program without external or self-funding and are accepted, you will be offered a multi-year support package, which begins in your first year. The details of our support guarantees may vary by funding source, field of study, and other circumstances, and the guarantee is, of course, contingent on satisfactory progress and performance. Most of our support packages offer 5 years of support and begin with a fellowship year from the UW–Madison Graduate School, generously funded by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Our most distinguished packages include two years of fellowships and may also include summer support:
- Graduate Research Scholar fellowships for underrepresented students or first-generation college students—offered annually
- George L. Mosse fellowships in modern Jewish history, European cultural history, or LGBTQ history—offered annually or as endowment income permits
- Julie A. and Peter M. Weil Fellowship in American Jewish history and select U.S. history fields—offered annually or as endowment income permits
- William J. Courtenay Fellowship in Medieval history—offered as funds permit
- Gerda Lerner Fellowship in women’s history—offered as funds permit
Additional years of guaranteed funding will come from employment as teaching assistants or project assistants or additional fellowships.
COMPETING FOR ADDITIONAL SUPPORT
All students in good standing can apply for writing prizes, conference travel awards, and supplements to external awards. Once graduate students have passed their preliminary examination and advanced to candidacy, they may apply for various departmental fellowships and research travel funding.
For students who have reached the advanced stages of dissertation writing, further funding opportunities are available. Our advanced dissertators may apply for teaching fellowships that give them the opportunity to design and teach an undergraduate course – the Merle Curti Teaching Fellowship (any field of study), the George L. Mosse Teaching Fellowship in European History, and the William J. Courtenay Teaching Fellowship in ancient, medieval, or early modern European history. (These fellowships are offered as often as endowment income permits.) Thanks to funding provided by the Doris G. Quinn Foundation, we are also pleased to offer a dissertator fellowship, which provides financial support for the final year of dissertation writing in any field.
In addition, UW-Madison offers a wealth of other opportunities to compete for funding offered, for example, by the International Division, the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and the UW Graduate School (research and conference travel awards).
More details on our funding for current/continuing students are available here.
* If you wish to apply only for the History M.A. (also known as the terminal M.A.), please describe your sources of support on the History Supplemental Application. For information on the cost of graduate study at UW–Madison, click here.
Minimum Graduate School Requirements
Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.
MODE OF INSTRUCTION
|Face to Face||Evening/Weekend||Online||Hybrid||Accelerated|
Mode of Instruction Definitions
Evening/Weekend: These programs are offered in an evening and/or weekend format to accommodate working schedules. Enjoy the advantages of on-campus courses and personal connections, while keeping your day job. For more information about the meeting schedule of a specific program, contact the program.
Online: These programs are offered primarily online. Many available online programs can be completed almost entirely online with all online programs offering at least 50 percent or more of the program work online. Some online programs have an on-campus component that is often designed to accommodate working schedules. Take advantage of the convenience of online learning while participating in a rich, interactive learning environment. For more information about the online nature of a specific program, contact the program.
Hybrid: These programs have innovative curricula that combine on-campus and online formats. Most hybrid programs are completed on-campus with a partial or completely online semester. For more information about the hybrid schedule of a specific program, contact the program.
Accelerated: These on-campus programs are offered in an accelerated format that allows you to complete your program in a condensed time-frame. Enjoy the advantages of on-campus courses with minimal disruption to your career. For more information about the accelerated nature of a specific program, contact the program.
|Minimum Credit Requirement||51 credits|
|Minimum Residence Credit Requirement||32 credits|
|Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement||Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.|
|Overall Graduate GPA Requirement||3.25 GPA required.|
|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.|
|Assessments and Examinations||In order to receive the History Ph.D., all students must pass the preliminary exam and the Ph.D. dissertation defense. |
Preliminary Examination: Each field of study has it's own exact requirements for prelims, but all include written exams and an oral defense of the student's research proposal and knowledge of the field.
Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Two-hour oral exam focusing on the student's written dissertation.
|Language Requirements||Because knowledge of a foreign language is a valued skill and enhances cultural understanding, the history department requires all students to demonstrate, at a minimum, reading knowledge of at least one language other than English. The |
fields of study may set additional requirements, and each field determines which languages may be used to satisfy its requirement
|Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements||All doctoral students are required to complete a minor (minimum of 9 credits).|
In addition to completing any M.A. course requirements for their field of study (see below), Ph.D. students must complete their doctoral minor (9 credits) and any additional language requirements specific to their field of study prior to taking the preliminary examination. After passing the preliminary examination, students register for HISTORY 990 Research and Thesis credits every semester until they deposit their dissertation.
M.A. Course Requirements
|HISTORY 701||History in a Global Perspective||1|
|HISTORY 800||Research Seminar in History (or an equivalent research seminar in the student's field of study)||3|
|Work with advisor to complete 26 credits of graduate-level courses||26|
These tracks are internal to the program and represent different pathways a student can follow to earn this degree. Track names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.
East Asian History
Language Requirements: Students in Medieval History must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages, usually one medieval and one modern.
Latin American and Caribbean History
Course Requirements: Each student must enroll in a seminar or proseminar (if available) every semester of residence. Other courses will include History graduate seminars or similar courses in the culture area of specialization. Undergraduate lecture courses may not be taken for credit unless a faculty advisor or co-advisor approves.
South Asian History
Southeast Asian History
United States History
Program in Gender and Women's History Concentration
Graduate School Policies
The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.
Graduate Program Handbook
The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.
Graduate Work from Other Institutions
With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 12 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions.
With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 7 credits of UW–Madison undergraduate coursework (numbered 300 and above).
UW–Madison University Special
With program approval, students are allowed to count 15 credits (numbered 300 or above) of coursework taken as a UW–Madison University Special student.
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.
ADVISOR / COMMITTEE
Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee of advisors, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. 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. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.
Ph.D. Dissertation Committee: The committee must have at least four members; normally in the Department of History the committee is composed of five. Three members must be Historyor (the advisor and two others). At least one other member must be a UW–Madison faculty member from another department; History faculty holding joint appointments may serve as the faculty member from another department. Emeriti faculty who are within one year of their retirement date may serve as a full member of a four-person committee. If the committee has five members, the fifth faculty member may be emeritus or a “qualified outsider,” as determined by the student’s major professor (e.g., a professor from another university or a person with expertise relevant to the dissertation). With faculty approval, students may choose to have two faculty designated as co-advisors of their dissertation.
CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED
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 required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.
The department generally accepts only those students to whom it can offer a multiyear guarantee of support. These guarantees may vary by funding source, field, and other circumstances, and they are contingent on satisfactory progress and performance. Applicants with access to external resources that can support their graduate study should provide details on the Supplemental Application.
Graduate School Resources
Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career.
The Department of History is committed to training our students to develop skills required for a variety of careers both in and outside the academy. Although a large network of our alumni teach at colleges and universities in the U.S. and across the world, a number of our Ph.D.s have enjoyed considerable success outside the academy. They include recent graduates who are currently a museum curator, teachers at prestigious preparatory academies, a historian with the U.S. Secretary of Defense's POW/Missing Persons Agency, a CEO of an investment firm, an analyst for a defense contractor, an editor at a small press, and consultants working with non-profits in the human services, education, and public policy fields. In recent years we have undertaken a number of initiatives, detailed below, to broaden the training of our students for a wide array of careers.
Much of the preparation for the job market occurs informally and over the course of the student's graduate career—in the mentoring relationship between faculty advisor and student, in the presentation of student research in department venues, in the student's participation in professional conferences, and in early forms of professional publication. Coursework, such as for the minor requirement or certificates, can be an avenue to expanded competencies. The Center for Humanities, for example, offers a. Be sure to explore the Graduate School's resources such as " " and its .
Whatever career paths interest you, we encourage you to plan ahead and discuss your options—early and often—with your faculty advisor(s), with the Director of Graduate Studies, or with the Graduate Coordinator.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SEMINARS (HISTORY 710)
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT EVENTS
Preliminary Examination Workshop
Curriculum Vitae Workshops
These workshops are designed for students at all levels, ranging from first- year students writing CVs for campus positions to advanced dissertators on the job market.
The Graduate Program offers a series of opportunities to practice with a committee of our faculty for AHA interviews and on-campus job talks . They are open to a limited number of students who expect to be actively on the job market in the fall.
Careers in History Workshops
- Articulates research problems clearly and understands the limits of current theories, knowledge, or practices in the discipline of history.
- Pushes the boundaries of current historical knowledge in formulating research questions, in the selection or use of primary sources, or in interpreting evidence.
- Demonstrates breadth of historical and cultural knowledge.
- Is able to articulate the broader significance of their work to scholars in other fields or disciplines and to the broader public.
- Is able to design and teach courses at the undergraduate or graduate level.
- Fosters ethical and professional conduct.
Faculty: Professors Boswell (chair), Cronon, Dennis, Desan, Enke, Enstad, Hansen, Hirsch, Hsia, Kantrowitz, Keller, Kleijwegt, Lederer, McCoy, McDonald, Michels, Mitman, Neville, Nyhart, Plummer, Reese, Roberts, Shoemaker, Sweet, Thal, Wandel, Young; Associate Professors Chan, Cheng, Enke, Hall, Houck, Ipsen, Kim, Kodesh, Murthy, Ratner-Rosenhagen, Taylor, Ussishkin; Assistant Professors Bitzan, Brown, Callaci, Chamedes, Ciancia, Glotzer, Gómez, Haynes, Hennessy, Iber, Jackson, Kinzley, Lapina, Murthy, Nelson, Stolz, Whiting
Faculty Affiliates and Teaching Associates: Carlsson, Chopra, Clark-Pujara, Cullinane, Ermakoff, Greene, Keyser, Nelson (A.), Rider, Sharafi