Requirements & Instructions

Prior to applying 

Prior to applying, we encourage you to thoroughly research our department: our courses, academic strengths, and our faculty and their research strengths

We admit students to one of 12 general areas of study. In your applications you will identify one of these 12 general areas. 

  • African
  • Ancient
  • Asia: East
  • Asia: Southern
  • Europe: Medieval / Late Antiquity
  • Europe: Early Modern
  • Europe: Modern
  • Latin America
  • Middle East and the Islamic World
  • United States: Early
  • United States: Modern
  • Comparative Early Modern

Faculty in these areas specialize in various themes (women, gender, & sexuality; migration; race & ethnicity; labor; etc.). You should consult faculty members' profile page for their areas of expertise. 

In the application you will need to identify an appropriate faculty advisor for your general area of study. In addition, you will have the option of identifying a co-advisor. We highly advise that you reach out to potential advisors/co-advisors prior to applying to ensure that they are accepting students in the upcoming year and that they believe they are a good fit to mentor you. 

What you will need to apply: 

  • A chosen area of study
  • The name of your potential advisor (and co-advisor, if applicable)
  • Unofficial transcripts - these will be uploaded into your application
  • Names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of three recommenders to be added to your application
  • English Language Proficiency scores (select applicants) 
    • University policy requires international applicants (and domestic applicants whose native language is not English) to provide proof of English language proficiency as a condition of admission. More information on the English Language Proficiency Policy and the tests that the University of Minnesota accepts can be found on the University of Minnesota Graduate School website.
  • Writing Sample - 25 pages max, including bibliography
    • Please provide us with a writing sample that gives insight into your intellectual curiosity, as well as your analytic and creative abilities. It must be in English. It could be a part of an undergraduate project, a section or two from a senior or master's thesis, or a piece of published writing.
    • Your sample should showcase your ability to work with primary sources and make historical arguments. If you are planning on working with a research language other than English, it should display your facility with that language. For example, if you intend for your doctoral thesis to draw heavily from Arabic sources, your writing sample will ideally show your ability to work with Arabic texts.
    • If you are applying to our program from another discipline, then choose a piece of writing that displays your skills as a researcher and that suggest how your previous education provides a solid foundation for your future work as a historian.
  • Research Description - 1000 words
    • Please provide us with a narrative snapshot of your intellectual and personal interests. You can use the following questions as a springboard for this essay. You do not need to answer all of these questions, but do choose the ones that will give us the best sense of who you are as a historian. 
      • What is your current historical research interest? How would you like to grow as a historian and intellectual during your time in graduate school? How has your understanding of history changed during your studies so far?
      • What problems of understanding or interpretation are you most interested in engaging during your time in graduate school? What was the most interesting and formative class you took as an undergraduate outside of the history department, and how did it shape hoe you look at the past and at historical writing? 
      • Many people become aware sometimes during their youth of the power of the past. How is history different than the past? 
      • What is the most difficult dimension of studying and practicing history? What are examples of difficult historical problems? Why should we pay attention to them?
  • Diversity Statement - Supporting the development of a diverse student body is central to the University of Minnesota's mission. This mission is enacted by the inclusion of academically excellent students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and/or a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
    • Providing a Diversity Statement is optional. However, the Department of History highly encourages all applicants who identify as members of a community underrepresented in institutions of higher education to apply.
    • As a single pdf, please provide (1) a diversity statement [2 pages maximum] Please write a statement that identifies the distinctive characteristics and/or life experiences, such as successfully overcoming obstacles or hardships, that you would bring to your graduate program and how that could contribute to the education and enhanced perspective of fellow students at the University of Minnesota; and, (2) Reflection on Graduate School Diversity Office Values [2 page maximum]The Graduate School Diversity Office (GSDO), in partnership with the Graduate School Fellowships Office, provides the DOVE Fellowship Program. Those awarded the DOVE Fellowship also become members of the GSDO’s Community of Scholars Program (COSP). Please reflect upon one or two (1-2) values of the GSDO. Describe how you will embody these values as a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, and describe how you envision your future research at UMN will uphold these values.

We do not require GRE scores

After you submit your application, you will be considered for admission to the History PhD Program and for any University of Minnesota fellowship competitions you may be eligible for.

Applying to our program

Applications for Fall 2024 admission to the PhD program in History will be accepted from September 1, 2023 through 11:59 PM CST on November 30, 2023.

All applications are completed using the online application system. All required materials will be uploaded using this system. Follow the instructions carefully. If you have questions regarding program requirements, do consult the FAQ section of our website. Should the answer you seek not be contained there, please contact the History Graduate Studies Office at