Graduate School

Life After Eastern
Graduate Programs in History

M.A. Degree in History

There are several hundred colleges and universities that offer master’s degrees in history and related fields, such as American Studies, museum studies, decorative arts, and library science. These are generally called terminal M.A. degrees, because they are not intended to lead to further study toward a Ph.D. Many general M.A. programs are designed for teachers and other professionals who need a broad exposure to history beyond undergraduate education. Other coursess of study are more specialized in material culture, archives, decorative arts, and other areas designed to provide training needed for professionals in museums, archives, libraries, publishing, and related fields.

M.A. programs are generally designed to be completed in about two years of full-time work. Requirements vary considerably. Choosing an appropriate program requires careful research into graduate school catalogs and web pages. Some colleges have excellent programs in specific areas, but may not be otherwise distinguished. There are several good guides to specialized M.A. programs in history and allied disciplines.

Ph.D. Programs in History

A doctorate in History (Ph.D.) is required to teach in a college or university and to have the best opportunities for the highest-ranking positions in large museums, archives, and in other professional positions requiring extensive knowledge of history. The average time spent earning a Ph.D. beyond the B.A. is eight years. It is a long-term commitment and there is no guarantee that it will result in a permanent full-time position upon graduation.

Students in Ph.D. programs specialize in one area of history, such as modern Europe, Latin America, or recent United States. The largest portion of classes taken are in history. Reading knowledge of one or more foreign languages is required, depending on your specialty. The final requirement is generally a dissertation–a book-length piece of original research on a specific historical problem.

There are only about 100 universities in the United States that offer reputable Ph.D. programs. Admission is very competititive and is generally made by the department, rather than the graduate school or university. Generally, graduate admission committees desire applicants with a minimum 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.5 GPA in upper level history courses (or in a related major), GRE scores in the top 50th percentile, and good writing skills. Also required are excellent recommendations from professors who have had you in several classes and at least one significant writing sample.

The following ranking is based on the 740-page study by the National Research Council, Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States: Continuity and Change (1995). It ranks 111 PhD-granting graduate programs in history by scholarly quality of the faculty and effectiveness in educating research scholars. These assessments were made by nearly 8,000 graduate-program faculty members in 1993. The rankings represent an over-all assessment of each program based on reputation alone. The criteria may not represent what is most important to you in choosing a graduate school. Top-ranked programs are likely to offer a wide variety of specialties (such as Colonial American, Modern Chinese, or Latin American history), but some programs not highly ranked overall may excel in specific areas. You must do further research to determine which programs best suit your needs.

The University of Illinois Library maintains an extensive site with information about graduate school rankings and other information about choosing an appropriate program.
General advice about applying to graduate school can be found at the Tech Publishing site

Eastern Connecticut State University History graduates have recently been accepted into programs listed in dark blue. If you know of any others, please send me an email note with particulars at the address below.

Twenty-Five Most Prestigious Programs

Yale University
University of California – Berkeley
Princeton University
Harvard University
Columbia University
University of California – Los Angeles
Stanford University
University of Chicago
Johns Hopkins University
University of Wisconsin
University of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania
Cornell University
Brown University
Duke University
Northwestern University
University of North Carolina
City University of New York
University of Virginia
Rutgers University
University of Minnesota
University of Texas
New York University
Indiana University
University of Illinois

Next Twenty-Five Strongest Programs

University of California – San Diego
University of Rochester
Brandeis University
University of Iowa
University of Maryland
Emory University
University of California – Santa Barbara
University of Washington
Rice University
University of California – Davis
Vanderbilt University
Ohio State University
University of Pittsburgh
University of Kansas
University of Florida
Carnegie-Mellon University
State University of New York – Binghamton
University of California – Irvine
Washington University
State University of New York – Stony Brook
College of William and Mary
University of Connecticut
Michigan State University
University of Arizona
Georgetown University

Third Group of Twenty-Five

University of Missouri
University of Illinois – Chicago
Ohio University
Northern Illinois University
University of Colorado
Syracuse University
George Washington University
University of Georgia
University of Notre Dame
State University of New York – Buffalo
University of Massachusetts
Boston University
University of California – Riverside
University of Houston
University of Oregon
Boston College
Tulane University
Purdue University
University of Hawaii
University of New Hampshire
University of Southern California
University of Kentucky
Pennsylvania State University
Louisiana State University
University of Oklahoma

Last Group of Thirty-Six

Temple University
Arizona State University
Catholic University of America
Miami University
Loyola University of Chicago
University of South Carolina
Claremont Graduate School
Florida State University
University of Nebraska
Kent State University
University of Cincinnati
Texas A&M University
American University
Jewish Theological Seminary
Case Western Reserve University
University of Tennessee
University of Alabama
Howard University
Washington State University
University of Akron
University of Arkansas
Bowling Green State University
Texas Tech University
Brigham Young University
University of North Texas
Texas Christian University
West Virginia University
Northern Arizona University
University of Texas Dallas
Auburn University
Fordham University
Mississippi State University
Illinois State University
University of Southern Mississippi
University of North Dakota
University of Puerto Rico

How to Apply to Graduate School: Talk with your advisor.