From its 1892 establishment as one of the founding departments of the University of Chicago, the History Department's attention has focused on programs leading to the Ph.D. degree in a broad range of fields of study. At Chicago you will find an academic environment in which basic research on the history of culture and societies throughout the world thrives, nurtured within the University's rich tradition of intellectual distinction and rigor.
Theoretically sophisticated comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are a hallmark of the Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago. Along with graduate fields organized by traditional regional, national, and chronological boundaries, the History Department offers a comprehensive range of interdisciplinary, theoretical, and comparative fields of study. We strongly encourage students to take courses outside of History and to compose one of their three oral fields in a comparative discipline. An equally distinctive part of our program is the array of interdisciplinary workshops and special conferences that bring together students and faculty from throughout the University for intellectual exchange.
The History Department at Chicago strives to sustain research and reading courses and a diversity of student cohorts in as many historical fields as possible - a structure that is vital to the Department's intellectual life. The History Department expects to welcome about twenty new graduate students each year. They are broadly distributed by field and backgrounds; perhaps a fifth arrive from outside the United States. The Department's distinguished faculty of forty-seven works in close concert with students in the graduate seminars, colloquia, and tutorials that form the core of advanced training at Chicago. It is here, in intense interaction with faculty and fellow students, that individual interests and the professional skills of the historian are honed. As in any history program, a student is expected to learn to read critically, to search out and analyze primary materials with skill, and to write with rigor. At Chicago, we also expect that students will produce through their own creativity work that significantly advances the frontiers of their chosen field.
The University of Chicago calls itself a "teacher of teachers." The History Department proudly accepts this title. An intensive teaching program prepares post-orals students for a range of teaching assistantships and more independent teaching opportunities for advanced graduate students. Rather than teaching multiple sections of large lecture courses, most of our graduate students teach a smaller number of students in courses that focus on discussion. Students have the opportunity to hone their teaching skills in a departmental workshop on History Pedagogy as well as in programs offered by the Chicago Center for Teaching and Learning. They also enjoy the opportunity to teach interdisciplinary courses in the College’s Core curriculum and in interdisciplinary centers such as the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. In each of these sequences, the academic rigor fostered by the College ensures that teaching assistants and graduate student instructors have a unique opportunity to teach and to learn from undergraduates who possess both a distinctive sense of intellectual curiosity and highly developed analytical skills.
History students enjoy access to multiple sources of support for research and professional development within both the Department and the wider University community. The Department itself supports graduate student research and conference travel, sponsors workshops on professional issues, and maintains a strong placement program. It also coordinates with our vibrant graduate student body, which participates in departmental committees and supports an active graduate student professional and social organization. The University offers competitive grants for conferences designed and managed by graduate students through institutions such as the Franke Institute for the Humanities and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies. In addition, a new grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help the Department pilot a series of optional enrichment programs for graduate students designed to broaden their familiarity with and access to multiple possible careers. It is our belief that these initiatives, which will give interested students exposure to a range of digital, quantitative, administrative, and presentation skills, will be useful both to the majority who become university faculty – improving their ability to wok within the university as an institution, to communicate their findings to the broader public, and so on – and to those who may at some point choose a different career path.
The University, Hyde Park, and Chicago
The University of Chicago was established in 1892 with an endowment from John D. Rockefeller for a multipurpose research university bearing the name of the city. It has become one of the world's foremost research institutions and a leader in graduate education. In addition to housing a vibrant community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, the University possesses resources commensurate with those of larger private and state institutions. These include one of the nation’s premier university libraries, which contains over 6 million volumes and 8 million non-book items. Students at the University also have ready access to Chicago's outstanding cultural, leisure, and athletic events, and to its rich array of research institutions. The University is located in Hyde Park, a politically independent and racially diverse neighborhood fifteen minutes from the Loop, the heart of downtown Chicago. It is also less than a mile from the beaches, biking and jogging trails, and picnic areas of the Lake Michigan shore.