The Department of History at the University of Kansas ranks among the best in the country. It is in the top 25 public university programs according to the US News and World Report. The program has strength in the areas of United States, modern European, Medieval, British & Imperial, Russian/East European, East Asian, Latin American, Military, and Environmental History. We offer great flexibility in the choice of fields, which are defined both by traditional geographical and chronological parameters, and by thematic topics.
For statistics regarding our program, please see our Doctoral Program Profile, which is updated yearly by the Office of Graduate Studies.
The University of Kansas boasts a diverse faculty of exceptional quality, including distinguished senior faculty and promising recent hires from the nation's top graduate degree programs, including Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. For more information on the faculty and their areas of study, see Faculty by Area.
The graduate program currently enrolls about 80 graduate students. Graduate students come to the department from all over the country, and from foreign countries, including Japan, China, Russia, and Italy. The program is highly selective, admitting in recent years about a third of applicants. Our students represent a very diverse group, and we encourage equally applicants from traditional and non-traditional backgrounds.
We offer an outstanding opportunity for the most talented students to become professional historians. Recent Ph.D.s have successfully found employment at such institutions as Penn State University, the University of Georgia, the University of California, Riverside, Wright State University, Iowa State University, Virginia Tech, the University of Arkansas, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the University of Alaska-Anchorage, the College of Charleston, Briar Cliff College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Calvin College, Marshall University, Florida Atlantic University, Western Illinois University, Utah Valley State College, Eastern Oregon University, Central Missouri State University, Humboldt State University, Truman State University, the University of Utrecht, the US Air Command and Staff College, Command and General Staff College, the German Historical Institute, the Walden Woods Project, the RAND Corporation, and the US Holocaust Museum.
The University is set on top of Mount Oread and offers beautiful vistas of the surrounding area, while at the heart of the campus itself is Jayhawk Boulevard with its historic stone architecture. The appeal of KU does not end with the campus, however; we have a charming downtown with diverse restaurants and shops, many of which are independent and locally owned. Lawrence's music scene is considered among the best in the Midwest, and its public schools rank among the finest in the nation (see Guide to Lawrence, KS). Additionally, Kansas City, which boasts a wide variety of cultural venues, is only 30 miles away.
Whether applying to KU or elsewhere, graduate applicants are expected to contact their prospective advisors in advance. It is useful to discuss shared research interests, and to inquire whether the faculty member is taking new students. A little contact before applying can help applicants and faculty decide whether this can become a productive relationship. This faculty advisor will then be able to more effectively advocate for the applicant's candidacy based upon this correspondence. Candidates requesting consideration for admission to the MA, MA/PhD, or PhD program in History must complete the online application through the KU Office of Graduate Studies. Information about minimum requirements and codes for GRE or TOEFL tests can be found on this site. Note that documents, including a writing sample and transcripts, should be uploaded to the application. There is no need to send hard copies of application materials to the History Department. When you submit your online application, it is made available to the Department of History. The application deadline for Fall 2014 entry is December 1, 2013. International applicants need to submit their materials by November 15, 2013.
When you apply, specify to which program you intend to join: MA only, the MA/PhD, or the PhD. We recommend that candidates seeking admission directly into the PhD program first earn an MA in History or a related field.
The application materials that each candidate must submit are:
- Statement of Academic Objectives, including a clear plan for graduate research in a specific field of study
- Curriculum Vitae
- Writing Sample demonstrating independent historical research and analysis (20-25 pages maximum)
- Submit a writing sample that best represents your scholarly abilities: The Department is interested in reviewing your well-crafted, persuasively argued sample. Such papers are often derived from an upper-level undergraduate history class in which you conducted independent research and employed both primary and secondary sources. If you have an MA in history, the writing sample should be taken from your thesis or a major paper written in a graduate seminar.
- GRE Scores, conveyed from ETS to the University of Kansas (School Code 6871)
- Official Transcript from each institution that has granted you a degree, or at which you are currently enrolled
- Three letters of recommendation – The letters can be directly uploaded online directly by those who write the recommendations, or they can be mailed to the Department of History, ATTN: Graduate Administrator, 1445 Jayhawk Boulevard, Wescoe 3650, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045. A recommendation form for hard copy letters can be downloaded here.