The Department of History at the University of Kansas is a dynamic place, with a proud tradition of training scholars from across the globe who have transformed the practice of history. The program offers major or minor concentrations in the areas of United States, African American, Modern European, British & Imperial, Russian/East European, East Asian, Latin American, African, Medieval, Women and Gender, Military, and Environmental History. KU offers its graduate students great flexibility in their choice of fields, as defined both by traditional geographical and chronological parameters and thematic topics. Students also have the opportunity to take coursework outside the department in fields such as Public History, Museum Studies, Environmental Studies, and the History of Medicine.

Primarily a doctoral program, the Department currently enrolls approximately 80 graduate students from throughout the United States and the world, including Japan, China, Peru, and Russia. Our students make up a very diverse group, and we encourage applicants from traditional and non-traditional backgrounds.

For statistics regarding our program, please see our Doctoral Program Profile, which demonstrates our success at funding and placing current and recent graduates.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

Graduate applicants are expected to contact their prospective advisors in advance. It is useful to discuss shared research interests, to inquire whether the faculty member is taking new students, and to decide whether this can become a productive relationship. This faculty advisor will then be able to more effectively advocate for the applicant's candidacy based upon this correspondence.

Candidates requesting consideration for admission to the MA, MA/PhD, or PhD program in History must complete the online application through the KU Office of Graduate Studies. Information about minimum requirements and codes for GRE or TOEFL tests can be found on this site. Note that documents, including a writing sample and transcripts, should be uploaded to the application. There is no need to send hard copies of application materials to the History Department. When you submit your online application, it is made available to the Department of History. The application deadline for Fall admission entry is January 1. International applicants need to submit their materials by December 15.

When you apply, specify to which program you intend to join: MA only, the MA/PhD, or the PhD. We recommend that candidates seeking admission directly into the PhD program first earn an MA in History or a related field.
The application materials that each candidate must submit are:

  • Statement of Academic Objectives, including a clear plan for graduate research in a specific field of study
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing Sample demonstrating independent historical research and analysis (20-25 pages maximum)
    • Submit a writing sample that best represents your scholarly abilities: The Department is interested in reviewing your well-crafted, persuasively argued sample. Such papers are often derived from an upper-level undergraduate history class in which you conducted independent research and employed both primary and secondary sources. If you have an MA in history, the writing sample should be taken from your thesis or a major paper written in a graduate seminar.
  • GRE Scores, conveyed from ETS to the University of Kansas (School Code 6871)
  • Official Transcript from each institution that has granted you a degree, or at which you are currently enrolled
  • Three letters of recommendation – The letters can be directly uploaded online directly by those who write the recommendations, or they can be mailed to the Department of History, ATTN: Graduate Administrator, 1445 Jayhawk Boulevard, Wescoe 3650, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045. A recommendation form for hard copy letters can be downloaded here.

M.A. Degree Requirements

The master’s program in history requires satisfactory completion of 30 credit hours of graduate courses including at least 6 hours in history research seminars and the passing of a comprehensive oral examination.

Soon after admission, the student should select a faculty member as his or her advisor. The advisor directs the student’s work and advises the student about selecting Option A or Option B.

Option A

3 fields of history

The fields are the equivalent of secondary fields drawn from 3 different major fields. With the consent of departmental advisors, when a student’s program warrants a substitution, she or he may substitute an allied field outside the department that provides vital support for the program (e.g., substituting international relations for U.S. diplomatic history). At least 9 hours of course work must be taken in each of the 3 fields. Students must take HIST 805.

9 hours of work in courses numbered HIST 801 or higher and 6 hours of research seminar are required. Normally, at least 3 hours of seminar under each program should be taken with the student’s program advisor, who chairs the oral examining committee.

All master’s candidates must produce 2 professional-quality, article-length papers (approximately 30 pages) in the 2 required seminars. The final oral examination for the master’s degree includes questions concerning the papers as well as coverage of the student’s major and secondary fields.

Option B

A major field and 1 secondary field

At least 2 history faculty members must serve on the student’s M.A. committee for the major field. At least 18 hours of course work in the major field and 9 hours in the secondary field must be taken. Students must take HIST 805.

9 hours of work in courses numbered HIST 801 or higher and 6 hours of research seminar are required. Normally, at least 3 hours of seminar under each program should be taken with the student’s program advisor, who chairs the oral examining committee.

All master’s candidates must produce 2 professional-quality, article-length papers (approximately 30 pages) in the 2 required seminars. The final oral examination for the master’s degree includes questions concerning the papers as well as coverage of the student’s major and secondary fields.