The Department of History offers a PhD program centered on rigorous research within a vibrant and diverse intellectual community. While most of our students have a history degree (BA) or degrees (BA and MA), we accept students with a variety of backgrounds and interests. 

Admission is highly competitive. We make approximately thirty to forty offers of admission each year and aim to matriculate fifteen to twenty new PhD students. All offers include a full university fellowship. In 2017-2020, a number of excellent students selected for admission were named Brenda and Earl Shapiro Scholars in History or Neubauer Family Distinguished Doctoral Fellows and received additional fellowship support over five years. Students matriculating in 2020 will receive full funding for the duration of their program.

Autumn 2021 Admissions Deadline: December 10, 2020. 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time.

Admissions: You apply to the PhD program through the Division of the Social Sciences. For questions regarding the application submission and fee waivers, please contact SSD Admissions. For questions regarding the History PhD Program or History-specific application components, please contact our graduate affairs administrator.

Application Decisions: Official decisions are sent by the Social Science Admissions Office by the middle of March. The Department cannot release any information on admissions decisions.

Campus Visits: Our office assistant will be happy to arrange meetings with faculty and the graduate affairs administrator. Please consult our faculty page to find professors who share your interests. Our graduate affairs administrator can provide additional information about the program. Be sure to contact us at least two weeks before your visit so we can make your trip the most worthwhile. The best time to visit is in the autumn quarter before you complete your application.

The university also offer graduate campus tours throughout the year that are lead by graduate students.

Admitted PhD students are invited to visit campus for History Day in the early spring. History Day was held March 5&6, 2020.  The 2021 date has not be set.

Application Components: You will find requirements for the application on the divisional admissions pages. The following advice is specific to your application to the Department of History:

  • Your writing sample should be a complete self-contained work. The ideal sample should be in the field of history (or a closely related field) that you plan to pursue at Chicago. Include the class or publication for which the sample was written. For papers longer than twenty-five pages, please flag a section for the committee.
  • Your candidate statement provides us with vital insight into the intersection of your intellectual goals and personal trajectory. It should communicate: 1) the ambitions you wish to pursue through doctoral work in history; 2) the specific questions and themes that will shape your dissertation research; 3) the personal and intellectual trajectory that has brought you to those themes and questions and prepared you to pursue them; and 4) the reasons that the University of Chicago and its faculty are well-matched to your doctoral plans.
  • The most helpful letters of recommendation come from faculty members who can access your ability to work on your proposed historical topic.
  • Prospective students are asked to identify up to three fields of scholarly interest, choosing from those listed under our research page. Please note, however, that we highly encourage applicants who work across field boundaries and do not apportion admissions by field.
  • There is no minimum foreign language requirement to enter the program, but successful applicants should possess strong language skills in their proposed research language(s) and be aware of the language requirements for the various fields. All students are required to take a language exam in the first quarter of the program.
  • The university sets the English-language assessment requirements; refer to the Division of the Social Sciences for English-language requirements and waivers.
  • Applicants for Autumn 2021 are not required to submit GRE scores.