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, and 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 M.A., M.A./Ph.D., or Ph.D. 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 2018 entry is Janurary 1, 2018. International applicants need to submit their materials by December 15, 2017.

When you apply, specify which program you intend to join: M.A. only, the M.A./Ph.D., or the Ph.D. We recommend that candidates seeking admission directly into the Ph.D. program first earn an M.A. 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 M.A. 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.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Students normally must complete the M.A. degree before they are eligible to enter the Ph.D. program. Students who enter the M.A. program may either complete the degree or petition for direct admission to the Ph.D. program. This petition first must be endorsed by the student’s advisor and the field committee and then be approved by the department’s graduate board.

In addition to general requirements, the following departmental requirements must be met. A minimum of 11 courses (33 credit hours) is required for the Ph.D. Students may choose between 2 options for their course work.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship

The university requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. In order to fulfill these requirements, all graduate students in History must take HIST 805 and become certified in a foreign language before taking the comprehensive oral exam.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog and in the KU Policy Library.

Track A

Students select a major and 2 secondary fields. The major field includes 6 courses (18 credit hours). The secondary fields include 2 courses (6 credit hours), for a total of 12 credit hours; 1 of the secondary fields may be taken in a discipline outside the department, but a student may offer all 3 fields in history. Students must take HIST 805.

For both Track A and Track B, the major and secondary fields are those listed in this catalog or approved by the graduate board.

The department requires proficiency, at the level the student’s committee deems necessary, in 1 or 2 foreign languages appropriate to the student’s fields of specialization. Students should present satisfactory evidence of proficiency in the first language before enrollment in the second semester of degree work. Appropriate proficiency in the second language (if necessary) must be achieved before the student may take the oral comprehensive examination.

Before taking the oral comprehensive examination, students must complete (in addition to the language requirement) a minimum of 5 colloquia and seminars, including 2 in the major field(s) and 1 in each secondary field. At least 2 of the 5 must be research seminars in which the student produces professional-quality, article-length papers (approximately 30 pages).

In lieu of written examinations, students compile portfolios of their professional work demonstrating command of their fields and their preparation to undertake dissertation research. Following presentation of the portfolio, students take an oral examination covering their fields of study and their dissertation proposals.

Track B

Students select 2 major fields, for which they take a total of 8 courses (24 credit hours), and 1 secondary field, for which they take 2 courses (6 credit hours). The secondary field may be taken in a discipline outside the department, but a student may offer all 3 fields in history. Under the major fields, students may choose a 4/4 or a 5/3 configuration for their 8 courses. Students must take HIST 805.

For both Track A and Track B, the major and secondary fields are those listed in this catalog or approved by the graduate board.

The department requires proficiency, at the level the student’s committee deems necessary, in 1 or 2 foreign languages appropriate to the student’s fields of specialization. Students should present satisfactory evidence of proficiency in the first language before enrollment in the second semester of degree work. Appropriate proficiency in the second language (if necessary) must be achieved before the student may take the oral comprehensive examination.

Before taking the oral comprehensive examination, students must complete (in addition to the language requirement) a minimum of 5 colloquia and seminars, including 2 in the major field(s) and 1 in each secondary field. At least 2 of the 5 must be research seminars in which the student produces professional-quality, article-length papers (approximately 30 pages).

In lieu of written examinations, students compile portfolios of their professional work demonstrating command of their fields and their preparation to undertake dissertation research. Following presentation of the portfolio, students take an oral examination covering their fields of study and their dissertation proposals.