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Admissions Process


Application Deadline: December 15

Requirements for Admission

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and must have achieved a minimum, overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as well as a minimum GPA of 3.0 in history courses taken as an undergraduate. Occasionally the History Department admits superior students who have not had the equivalent of a history major or students whose grades in history courses are exceptional but whose other grades do not meet the minimum GPA.

Financial Support

As of May 2014, the department will generally accept only those students to whom it can offer a multi-year guarantee of support. These guarantees may vary by funding source, field, and other circumstances, and they are contingent on satisfactory progress and performance. In addition to funding packages available to all students in all fields, applicants may be interested in non-departmental sources of support and fellowships targeted at particular fields or groups of applicants.

Support for first-year students will generally come in the form of a fellowship. In 2014-15, fellowships for new graduate students include a stipend of $19,365, plus payment of tuition and fees and eligibility for subsidized health insurance. During non-fellowship years, most students will work as Teaching Assistants or Project Assistants, or in other capacities. While we are actively working to improve the wages offered for this work, at present the annual rate falls short of the amount offered during fellowship years.

As a condition of their guarantees, students may be required to apply for appropriate external fellowships; however, failure to secure such awards will not negatively affect students' guarantees.

Applicants with access to external resources—personal, governmental, or institutional—that can fund their graduate study should provide details in the appropriate field on the History Supplemental Application (which can be found in the Graduate School online application).

Programs of Study

Students are admitted to the graduate program in History through a specific study program. The programs available to incoming students are:

  • African
  • Central Asian
  • East Asian
  • Education
  • European - Ancient
  • European - Medieval
  • European - Early Modern
  • European - Modern
  • Gender and Women
  • Latin American
  • Middle Eastern
  • South Asian
  • Southeast Asian
  • United States

Admission to a specific study program commits you to work toward your degree in that area, so you should select your study program with care. Take careful note of any language requirements for admission to a program. You may also wish to explore the research specializations of particular program faculty. Indicate your preferences on the History Supplemental Application.

Additional Notes on Study Programs

Applicants to the Program in Gender and Women's History must also indicate the geographic area in which they want to work via the list on the History Supplemental Application.

Applicants whose primary interests span two geographic study programs should 1) explain this in their Statement of Purpose, and 2) identify the fields and likely faculty mentors drawn from both on the History Supplemental Application.

Admission to the program in Comparative World History occurs only after the student has earned an M.A. in another study program.

Bridging from the M.A. in Afro-American Studies to the Ph.D. in History

The Bridge Program is an academic partnership between the Department of Afro-American Studies (AAS) and the Department of History. It is designed to allow students to complete the M.A. in AAS and the Ph.D. in History. Students gain interdisciplinary training in Afro-American Studies with a concentration in history, take some of their courses in the History department, and recruit a member of the History department faculty to serve on their M.A. committee. Once they have successfully completed the M.A., students cross the bridge to the History Department and continue toward the Ph.D. in one of the department's study programs. Applicants to the Bridge Program must indicate this on the History Supplemental Application.

Application Procedure

The deadline for all materials is December 15.

You must apply online at https://www.gradsch.wisc.edu/eapp/eapp.pl. In addition, you must provide the following materials:

  • The History Supplemental Application (part of the Graduate School application). On this form, you will indicate the area of study you wish to pursue; any regional, thematic, or methodological concentrations; and if appropriate, external funding resources.
  • 3 letters of recommendation (submitted online).
  • 2 sets of original official transcripts from all institutions attended, showing all undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded, by mail, to:

    Marlina Polk McGiveron
    Department of History
    UW-Madison 3211 Mosse Humanities Building
    455 N. Park Street
    Madison, WI 53706-1483

  • A sample of written work: a pdf copy of an M.A. thesis, Senior thesis, or research paper, in English, ideally double spaced (submitted online).
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. These are required for admission. The test must have been taken within the last five years. Designate UW Madison as a recipient when you take the examination; your scores will be reported to us. Our institution code is 1846. Students requesting a waiver [e.g., International applicants] should contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Prof. Colleen Dunlavy, at cdunlavy@wisc.edu.
  • A Statement of Purpose (submitted online): The Statement of Purpose explains your reasons for graduate study. This 2-3 page document is the hardest part of the application to write. While it will likely include some autobiographical information, its primary purpose is to acquaint us with how your mind works. We want to know, for example, what kinds of intellectual problems and issues interest you, whose stories intrigue you, what sorts of analytical or narrative approaches you like to pursue, which historical writings you admire—and your reasons for these various preferences. Please help us understand your decision to enter the historical profession and how you see your own role in it. There is no single right way to approach this part of the application, but we suggest that you bear in mind the usual cautions for personal writing: speak straightforwardly, in your own voice, and write as well as you know how.

International Students

Official TOEFL scores are required from countries in which English is not a primary language.

A financial statement will be requested upon a positive admission recommendation from the department.

For more information, contact UW-Madison's International Student Services (ISS).

Admissions Timeline

Applications and all supplemental materials must be received no later than December 15.

The Graduate School will notify you when it has received your application and provide you with a unique URL with which to track the status of your application. It is your responsibility to make certain that all the materials have been supplied.

The Department will notify applicants of their acceptance or rejection by late February. In a small number of cases, students may be offered a spot on a waiting list.

Admitted applicants must inform the department that they are accepting or rejecting the offer no later than April 15.

Continuing Students

For continuing UW-Madison students doing a change or addition of major, please submit the appropriate form at https://grad.wisc.edu/acadpolicy/ and the following materials:

  • The History Supplemental Application.
  • Transcripts:
    • Two sets of original transcripts from all previous institutions attended, showing all undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded; and
    • Two copies of your original transcripts from your current program at UW-Madison.
  • 3 Letters of recommendation.
  • A sample of written work: a pdf copy of an M.A. thesis, Senior thesis, or research paper, in English, ideally double spaced.
  • A Statement of Purpose (see above).

Mail or deliver these materials to:

Marlina Polk McGiveron
Department of History
3211 Mosse Humanities Building
455 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706-1483

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