Students interested in applying to graduate school in history
should plan their course of study carefully and consult with
faculty members early, particularly those who share your research
All graduate programs in history require evidence of good critical
thinking skills and research experience; a writing sample will
be an integral part of your application. You should be able
to demonstrate familiarity with your proposed field of study,
as well as an awareness of the various different theories and
methods that historians bring to bear upon their evidence. You
should think seriously about the advantages of writing an honors
thesis, especially in the field you intend to pursue. Finally,
most graduate programs require the ability to read and translate
at least one foreign language for U.S. fields, and at least
two foreign languages for non-U.S. ones.
Applications to graduate school are filed in the fall and winter,
with most deadlines between November and January. Applicants
usually take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in the fall of their
senior year, so that the results can be sent to the graduate
programs. Schools usually require three letters of recommendation,
as well as a personal statement. Recommendations are best written
by faculty who have taught you in at least one upper-division
class and have a good sense of your work, abilities, and plans.
You should ask your prospective recommenders well in advance
of the application deadline, and provide a curriculum vitae
and a copy of your personal statement. You should research thoroughly
the literature and web pages of the programs in which you are
interested, as requirements and deadlines vary.
For a useful and honest essay on the details of graduate study
and the application process, read "Inscribing
Your Future: The Trials and Tribulations of Applying to Graduate
School," which was originally published in the newsletter
of the American Historical Association.
The following sites are also useful if you are thinking of
applying to graduate school in history.