Requirements & Instructions

The application to a graduate program at the University of Minnesota contains many different pieces, as the application is used by every graduate program across the University. Not all of the components are required for every program. Below is the list of components that the history PhD requires.

We suggest downloading the History Department Application Checklist (PDF). This document will help you manage your materials. Once you have gathered all the necessary materials, the application process is completed through our online system. The online application system is designed for the University of Minnesota, so there are more fields than materials required by the History Department. The History Department's required materials are described below and listed on the checklist.

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.

Research Statement

The admissions committee seeks prospective students who are prepared to engage in a rigorous course of study undertaken in collaboration with a wide range of teachers and colleagues. In order for the committee to get to know you as a potential member of our community, we ask that you provide a snapshot of your intellectual and personal interests through a research statement.

Please use the questions below to craft your research statement. You do not have to answer every question but do choose the ones that will give us the best sense of you as a historian. Please do not exceed 1,000 words.

  • How would you like to grow as a historian and intellectual during your time in graduate school? How has your understanding of history changed in the course of your studies thus 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 the history department, and how did it shape how you look at the past and at historical writing?
  • Many people become aware sometime during their youth of the power of the past. How is history different from 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?

Writing Sample

Please provide the committee with a writing sample that gives us insight into your intellectual curiosity, analytic, and creative abilities. It must be in English and no more than 25 pages in length, and could be 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, your writing sample should ideally display your facility with that language. If you are applying from a discipline other than history, then choose a piece of writing that displays your skills as a researcher, and that will suggest to the committee how your previous education provides a solid foundation for your future historical work. Feel free to include as part of the sample a page or two that contextualizes its contents within a class or larger project.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. We prefer letters from academic references over letters from nonacademic employers.

Requests for recommendations will be submitted through the recommendation system on your online graduate school application. Please encourage your recommenders to submit online whenever possible, via the link generated by the online application. The preferred method for receiving recommendations is through the online system. If recommenders cannot submit through the online system, they may email the letter directly to or mail it to:

History Graduate Studies 
University of Minnesota
271 19th Ave. S., Ste 1130
Minneapolis, MN 55455

If the letter is sent via physical mail, both the letter and the recommendation form should be placed in an envelope signed across the seal by the recommender.


Your unofficial transcript from each college or university that you have attended is required.

GRE Scores

You are not required to provide GRE scores for admission to the History PhD program at the University of Minnesota.

English Language Proficiency Scores

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.

Diversity Statement

Two diversity fellowships are also available for incoming graduate students: Diversity of Views and Experiences and Interdisciplinary Center for Global Change. If you feel that you qualify for and would like to be considered for nomination for either of these awards, please submit a statement explaining your candidacy under Diversity Statement.