Frequently asked questions are below. Please note that specific regulations, requirements, and other details about our graduate program in history can be found in our Department of History Graduate Studies Guide.


What is your funding package? The Graduate School offers full tuition scholarships for eight years (sixteen semesters) and a generous stipend for five years. Additional internal funding may be requested for a sixth year. All students are encouraged to apply for outside funding for research, conferences, and dissertation completion. Return to Question

Do you offer a terminal M.A.? No. Return to Question

In what fields do you offer a Ph.D.? Our primary fields are the United States, Europe, Latin America, and the medieval world, but we also encourage fields like Atlantic history and global history that connect and cross these fields. Consult the Graduate Studies Guide for more information. Return to Question

Do you have a special policy for international students? No. International students are considered in the same pool as US students, and they receive the same funding package. Return to Question

What are the language requirements? See the Graduate Studies Guide. Return to Question

Do I need to be a History major in college? No, but your undergraduate program record should demonstrate a strong interest and ability in the history discipline and the humanities. Return to Question

Where do I get an application? You can complete the online application through Notre Dame's Graduate School website. Return to Question

What should I put in my personal statement? Your personal statement should explain your interests and trajectory as a historian. Among other things, please let us know: What are your special interests? What has inspired your interest in history? What is your training in history or related fields? With whom do you hope to work at Notre Dame, and why? Why do you want a Ph.D. in history? If there have been any significant setbacks in your academic record that you think we should be aware of, please explain these in your personal statement. Personal statements should be no longer than three pages. Return to Question

I already have an M.A. - do I get credit for this? You may transfer two courses from your M.A. program toward the History Ph.D. at Notre Dame. Aside from this, you will follow the normal student program and will receive another M.A. from Notre Dame upon successful completion of your exams. Return to Question

Do I need an M.A. to apply? No. Return to Question

I have applied before, do I need to complete the entire application again? No. If you applied within the last five years, your application should still be on record. Some portions may be reused (for example, transcripts), but it is usually a good idea to send a new personal statement and to ask your recommenders to update their letters. GRE scores more than five years old are not acceptable. Return to Question

Can I come to visit the campus? You are welcome to visit the Notre Dame campus at any time during the academic term. The Graduate Studies Coordinator, Kevin Vaughn, will be happy to help with arrangements and meetings. You may contact him at kvaughn1@nd.edu or (574) 631-0364. Return to Question

How high do my GRE scores and GPA need to be for admission? We have no official level for scores, but most admitted students have GRE scores in the 600s and 700s and a GPA above 3.5 (higher in humanities courses). Return to Question

Who makes the decision about my application? The Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Committee (a committee of six members chosen annually from among the History faculty) make all final decisions in consultation with faculty members from specific areas in which a prospective student might work. Return to Question

What should I send for a writing sample? Please send your most polished piece of historical writing, ideally a research paper (or part of a research paper) based on analysis of primary sources. Students applying in medieval, European, and Latin American history are encouraged to submit a paper that shows use of primary source documents in their original language. Samples should be no more than 20 pages. If you are sending part of a longer paper, please include an abstract or a table of contents for the longer work. Written work should be in English. Return to Question

What are the teaching requirements? All students are required to serve as teaching assistants in their second and third year of study. This is referred to as “service.” At most, a TA will be assigned two discussion sections for the same course with no more than 18 students in each section. We encourage all students to take the opportunity to gain experience as teachers. Notre Dame also offers programs and workshops through the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning to support the pursuit of excellence in teaching.  Return to Question

Do you provide students with funding to pursue research and attend conferences? Yes. There is funding from both the department and the University to help students fund travel for brief research trips and attend conferences in their field. Return to Question

Who should I ask for letters of recommendation? We usually expect letters from professors who have taught you in the past, either in undergraduate or graduate work. They should comment on your abilities as a student. Where applicable, they should also comment on your work as a historian, or your abilities in languages. In some cases, you may also wish to include a letter (preferably no more than one) from someone else who knows you well: a dean, boss, coach, pastor, or other person who can comment on your suitability for graduate work in history. Please send no more than four letters. Be sure to double-check with those writing for you to make sure that letters arrive by our January 4 deadline. Return to Question

Do you admit students in the spring semester? No. We only admit students for entrance in the fall. The deadline for all applications is January 4. Return to Question

How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. in History at Notre Dame? Ideally, our students complete their Ph.D. requirements, including the dissertation, in five years. This makes them automatically eligible for a postdoctoral appointment at the University (the 5+1 program through the College of Arts and Letters).    Return to Question

What is the placement record for your students? Please see the placement records listed on our department website. Return to Question

I have been working in another profession (or training for another profession), and I am only now turning to history. Should I apply to your program? Certainly. Most, but not all, of our students enter the program directly from a BA or MA program. A number of students enter our program after completing law school or divinity school, seeking a second degree; others come from the working world (teachers, lawyers, librarians, etc.). The most important thing, in your application, is that you make clear why you have decided that a degree in history is now right for you. Return to Question

If I apply by January 4, when will I hear about my application? Admissions decisions are made throughout the month of February and into early March. Students who have been admitted, or who are on our waiting list, will hear from us between March 1 and April 15. Return to Question

Does Notre Dame provide housing for graduate students? Yes. The University has housing available near the campus for both single and married graduate students. Many graduate students take advantage of University housing, while others rent or buy houses and apartments in South Bend. Rental rates and house prices are very reasonable in our area. Return to Question

Does the History Department offer a degree via distance learning? No. All graduate students must attend classes during their period of course work (usually two years). Once a student has completed course work, they may pursue their degree while living elsewhere. Return to Question

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