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Suggested Timeline: Applying to History Graduate Programs directly from Undergraduate Studies


For students interested in entering a graduate program directly after their undergraduate careers, the following is a suggested timeline for the application process:

As Soon as Possible

  • Take challenging history courses, particularly research-orientated seminars
  • Most graduate programs want you to demonstrate foreign language competency for your field of interest, i.e. if you’ve decided that you want to study Russian history, start taking Russian!
  • Take advantage of internships, clubs, research apprenticeships and jobs that will give you experience in “doing” history.

Junior Year

  • Register for the GRE and start preparing! Buy practice books, enroll in a prep course, or find a study buddy! GRE Info
  • Research potential graduate school programs and faculty you are interested in working with.


  • Take the GRE! Taking the GRE during the summer will be a lot less stressful than during the academic year. You’ll have more time to study and you won’t be as mentally fatigued from your other courses. Plus, if you aren’t happy with your scores, you have more time to retake it.
  • Create a “wish list” of about 10 programs and start gathering more information on each.
  • Keep updating your Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.s are academic resumes). They are required by some schools. Example CV

Senior Year- September

  • Contact faculty at each program on your “wish list” (either the person you want to work with or the graduate program coordinator/advisor). Let them know you’re interested, ask whatever questions you have, and find out if they are accepting PhD students in your area of specialty. Find Programs and Establish Contacts
  • Ask your three recommenders if they are willing to write you letters. Provide them with your Resume/C.V., a rough draft of your personal statement, papers you’ve written for their class, and any other information that will help them write a detailed letter. Letters of Recommendation

Senior Year- October

  • Finalize your list of programs and start the applications forms (online or paper).
  • Work on your personal statement/statement of purpose. Attend workshops or schedule appointments with the writing center to help you move through drafts. Revise, Rewrite, Edit, Repeat. Statement of Purpose
  • If you have not taken the GRE already, you need to do it now.
  • Send your GRE scores from ETS (Educational Testing Service) to each of your programs.

Senior Year- November

  • If you are working with December 1st deadlines, you’ll need to finish your applications by mid November to ensure that everything that needs to get mailed gets there in time.
  • Send gentle reminders to your recommenders that the deadlines for materials are approaching.
  • Send transcripts from each of your undergraduate institutions to each graduate program.
  • Finish paper or online application forms!


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