One of the oldest, most prestigious academic programs of its kind in the United States, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology (HSMT) draws together faculty members in History and in Medical History & Bioethics. Collectively, we offer broad coverage of the field, with expertise that spans Europe, the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean, stretches from the Middle Ages to the recent past, and ranges across the physical, biological, and social sciences to medicine and technology.

Our degree program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology 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. Students with doctoral training in one of the health professions may earn an M.A. in History of Medicine. It is also possible to earn a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree through the School of Medicine & Public Health’s Medical Scientist Training Program and the HSMT degree program.

History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at UW–Madison is known for the strength and diversity of its areas of study and its warm, collegial environment. All historical aspects of science, medicine, and technology receive attention—from their internal development to their broader institutional, philosophical, religious, and literary contexts, as well as their relationships with print culture, visual culture, and material culture. Students and faculty regularly participate in the program’s weekly Brown Bag and monthly colloquium series, both of which provide opportunities to present work, discuss professional issues, and engage with a wide range of on-campus and outside speakers.

Graduate students come to the HSMT degree program from a variety of backgrounds in the sciences and humanities and with diverse professional goals. The program maintains a policy of maximum flexibility and, insofar as possible, tailors the work required for the degree to fit the individual. Students are encouraged to undertake work in related programs such as history, philosophy, science and technology studies, and the various sciences. Joint degrees in HSMT and another degree program are also possible (see below). Our graduates pursue 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.


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.


Students in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology degree program 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.

In past years, HSMT students have successfully completed a joint Ph.D. with the Philosophy, Classics, Psychology, History, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics degree programs.

For more information on joint Ph.D. options, please contact the graduate program coordinator.


Working under the supervision of a PGWH faculty member, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology students may organize their studies to emphasize gender, women’s history, or sexuality. They meet all their HSMT requirements, take the PGWH core seminar on transnational gender history, and take at least two additional History or HSMT graduate seminars that are gender-specific.

Applicants to the HSMT degree program who wish to be considered for the concentration in gender and women's history should indicate this on their Graduate School application.

For more details, see Program in Gender and Women's History or 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) Not 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

All applicants must meet UW-Madison Graduate School's minimum applicant requirements, in addition to the below History Graduate Program requirements described below.


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). 

Writing Sample

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.

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 restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

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.*


If you apply to the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology (HSMT) 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:

  • Graduate Research Scholar fellowships for underrepresented students or first-generation college students—offered annually
  • John A. Neu Fellowship in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology—offered as endowment income permits

Additional years of guaranteed funding will come from employment as teaching assistants or project assistants or additional fellowships. 


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.

Further funding opportunities are available to students who have reached the advanced stages of dissertation writing. 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 (open field), the George L. Mosse Teaching Fellowship in European History, and the William J. Courtenay Teaching Fellowship in ancient, medieval, or early modern European history. The William Coleman Dissertation Fellowship in the History of Science supports one semester of advanced dissertation writing, as does the David and Greta Lindberg Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. (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 supports 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 HSMT M.A. (also known as the terminal M.A.) or for the M.A. in History of Medicine for Health Professionals, please describe your sources of support on the History Supplemental Application. For information on the cost of graduate study at UW–Madison, see this link.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements n/a
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 its 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 The HSMT Ph.D. requires proficiency in a foreign language and either a second foreign language or the use of an analytical tool as described below. Students who are working toward a degree as part of a combined M.D./Ph.D. program only need to demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language.

Students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English in order to pass the Second-Year Review. Students must also demonstrate proficiency in either a second language other than English or the use of an analytical tool (e.g. statistical methods, visual culture methods, ethnography) before achieving dissertator (ABD) status. If a student chooses the option of an analytical tool, the student must submit a proposal to be approved by the HSMT faculty. Once approved, the student must complete 9 credits appropriate to gaining competency in the use of this set of tools. Students must make at least a 3.0 (B grade or better) in these courses. Credits taken towards a graduate minor may not be used towards the completion of the analytical tool option.

ABD status, with its attendant reduction in tuition, is contingent upon satisfying these two requirements.
Doctoral Minor All doctoral students are required to complete a minor or Graduate/Professional certificate (9 credits minimum).

Required COURSES

Students must first complete the requirements for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology M.A.

In addition to completing the M.A. course requirements, Ph.D. students must complete two seminars at the 700 level or higher, their doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate (9 credits), and they must gain proficiency in a second foreign language 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. Students are also recommended to take HISTORY 999 Independent Work and HISTORY 710 Professional Development Seminar.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

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 Public Humanities certificate. Be sure to explore the Graduate School's resources such as "The Versatile PhD" and its Professional Development pages.

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.


The Professional Development topics seminar is offered every semester (see Requirements for course number). It emphasizes building skills that are valuable both inside and outside the academy, such as managing the writing process, teaching college history, or communicating historical research to a broad, nonspecialist audience. Since it is a topics course, more than one may be offered in a given semester. Recent topics include “Writing for Academy and Beyond,” “Digital History,” and “On the Job Market.”


Throughout the year, the Graduate Program sponsors various workshops intended to help students negotiate specific milestones of graduate study and to assist them in preparing for and going on the job market as they near completion of the Ph.D. Our programming currently includes:

Preliminary Examination Workshop

This offers a discussion of the various requirements for preliminary examinations: how to assemble committees, compiling reading lists, Graduate School requirements, and more.

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.

Mock Interviews

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

Our program is committed to helping its graduates seek and secure employment following the completion of their Ph.D. Since the financial crisis in 2008, the academic job market has softened markedly. While the Graduate Program continues to provide outstanding preparation for academic jobs, we also encourage our students to think more broadly about their career prospects and the transferability of their skills. As funds permit, we occasionally bring to campus History graduates who are working in the non-profit, private, or public-sector to meet with current graduate students and share their experience. We also offer opportunities to learn best practices for post-doctoral fellowship applications.
  1. Articulates research problems clearly and understands the limits of current theories, knowledge, or practices within HSMT.
  2. Pushes the boundaries of current knowledge in HSMT in formulating research questions, in the selection or use of primary sources, or in interpreting evidence.
  3. Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  4. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  5. Gains appropriate experience relating to designing and teaching university-level courses.
  6. 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.
  7. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.

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.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a previous undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward our graduate degree.

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.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


This program follows the Graduate School’s Advisor policy and the Graduate School’s Committees policy.


15 credits

Time Limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.