PhD History

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. All offers include a full university fellowship for the duration of the program. Between 2017 and 2023, a number of excellent students selected for admission were named Neubauer Family Distinguished Doctoral Fellows and received additional fellowship support over for five years.

Autumn 2023 Admissions Deadline: December 5, 2023 at 11:55 PM CST

Application Process

Interested students 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.

Official decisions are sent by the Social Science Admissions Office by late February. The Department cannot release any information on admissions decisions.

Application Advice

The requirements for the application can be found 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. We do not have a page or word limit for writing samples. 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 assess your ability to work on your proposed historical topic.

  • Prospective students are asked to identify one or two primary fields of scholarly interest from a list in the application. Our faculty pages are sorted by field. Please see those pages for more information on faculty working in your field of interest. 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.

  • Submission of GRE scores is entirely optional. Those who choose not to submit scores will not be disadvantaged in the admissions process.

MA Program Consideration

All applicants who are not admitted to our PhD program are automatically forwarded for consideration by our MA programs, unless the applicant specifically opts out of this process on their application. That said, as referred applications are considered later than most other MA applications, scholarship assistance for students admitted to an MA program through the referral process may be limited. If you are interested in our MA programs and would need scholarship assistance to attend, we would encourage you to apply directly to the MA as well as our program (note that this would require a separate application and application fee). MA applications are accepted multiple times per year with decisions typically issued within 6 to 8 weeks. Questions about applying to an MA program should be directed to

Campus Visits

We encourage prospective students to reach out to potential faculty mentors through email. Please consult our faculty page to find professors who share your interests. Our graduate affairs administrator can provide additional information about the program.

The University also offers graduate campus tours throughout the year that are led by graduate students. Please check their website for campus visitor updates.

Admitted PhD students are invited to visit campus for "History Day" at the beginning of Spring Quarter.