Prospective Graduate Frequently Asked Questions

Please Note:
The Application deadline for the graduate program is December 1 of each year.


  1. What are my chances of being admitted?
    Admission to our graduate program is based on merit and is extremely competitive. For the last several years, the department has received close to 200 applications, and we admitted on the average only 25 new funded students. Their average undergraduate GPA was 3.70 and average GRE scores were in the mid- to high 600's. You should bear in mind, however, that admission in some fields is much more competitive than these figures might suggest. We have cut back on admissions in order to fund all new students whom we admit.
  2. Is there a Master's Degree only program?
    No. While students do receive a Master's degree, it is seen as a stepping stone to the Ph.D.
  3. Do you admit students throughout the academic year?
    No. We have only one admissions process. Those students begin their studies the following autumn.
  4. On what are admission decisions based?
    Applicants are evaluated on the basis of their undergraduate and, when relevant, graduate GPAs, GRE scores, preparation in necessary languages, statements of purpose, letters of recommendation, and especially the quality of the sample of their scholarly work they submit in support of their applications. We stress this last in order to underscore how important it is to submit your best work, preferably a senior thesis or chapters from a Masters thesis, although we realize these may not be completed by our application deadline. But because a research paper is our best indication of your potential to do graduate work in history and because we weigh this very heavily in making decisions for admission and funding, you should send us whatever you think will best indicate to us your analytical, research, and writing abilities.
  5. What kinds of financial aid are available?
    The Department of History awards Graduate Associateships that provide tuition and a stipend for service as a grader, discussion section leader, research assistant, or instructor. Students who enter the program with a fellowship or Graduate Associateship can expect under normal circumstances to receive funding for four or five years. University Fellowships and Graduate Enrichment Fellowships, the latter for those who contribute to diversity in the university, are awarded by the Graduate School to top candidates nominated by the department. These fellowships offer up to three years of support with no teaching responsibilities and are supplemented by additional years of a Teaching Associateship. Depending on budgetary constraints and the department's teaching requirements, students may be eligible to apply for an additional year of support. To apply for a Fellowship or Graduate Associateship, applicants need only check the appropriate box on the Graduate School Admissions Application.
  6. What are my chances of getting a job after I receive my degree?
    Over the past twenty years the Department of History has placed the overwhelming majority of its doctoral degree recipients in academic positions at colleges and universities across the country. That success has continued during the past two years in one of the tightest job markets in memory. You should bear in mind, of course, that no one can predict the state of the academic job market several years down the road.

    The History Department placement rate for PhDs is strong. 90% of our graduates in 2004-2007 found employment, up from 69% ten years ago, a remarkable feat given a very competitive job market. Since 2000, 79 of our graduates have accepted academic positions at a range of institutions nationally and internationally, including quality tenure-track jobs at prestigious colleges and universities such as Northwestern, University of Illinois, Rice University, McGill, the University of Toronto, Middlebury, LSU, and the U.S. Military Academy; solid middle-tier private and public universities such as Brigham Young, St. Anselm College, Georgia State, University of Vermont, Nipissing University (Ontario), George Mason, the University of Hawaii, the University of Akron, Wayne State University, and the University of Toledo; historically Black colleges such as Morgan State; and smaller private institutions such as Otterbein, Utica, and Kenyon College. Others are employed as analysts with government agencies such as the State Department, as public historians, as staff historians with the U.S. Armed Forces, as editors at university presses, or with think tanks such as the Rand Corporation.

Graduate Studies Page | Prospective Graduate Students | Directions to Dulles Hall