How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC–CH). On this page and on the links provided here, you’ll find a full description of how to apply to the graduate program in History at UNC‑Chapel Hill. If you still have unanswered questions after using these resources, contact either Hannah McMillan, the Graduate Coordinator, or Sarah Shields, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

Please note: Our expectation is that all our students, even those who enter with a bachelor’s degree, are working towards doctoral degrees. We do not admit students for a terminal MA. If you seek to obtain an MA degree only, be sure to consider the excellent MA programs offered at UNC–Charlotte, UNC–Greensboro, NCSU, and elsewhere. You might also consider the excellent MA programs offered by the Center for European Studies and Global Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

When applying, you MUST apply to the PhD program, even if you will not have your MA upon arrival.

Students with the MA from another institution are fully considered for admission into the doctoral program. For information about the program followed by students admitted with MA degrees, see here.

We only admit students for the Fall.

Application Process

Online applications are available at the Graduate School’s Webpage after September 1. In accord with the UNC-CH Graduate School, the final deadline for submitting all materials for the application is December 4, 2018. The History Department strongly urges interested students to submit their applications by November 20, 2018. All materials are to be submitted online; the application fee is $85. The following supporting information are required components of your application:

  1. transcripts
  2. letters of recommendation
  3. statement of purpose
  4. writing sample

You must submit all application materials through the Graduate School application site. We recommend that you submit the application and all supporting materials by November 21, 2017. The admissions committee begins to review applications immediately thereafter. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. Please keep track of the status of your application online.

Further Application Information

Official Transcripts:

While the vast majority of applicants accepted into the program majored in history as undergraduates, a history undergraduate major is not a prerequisite for admission into our program. Many successful applicants have previously received degrees in area studies or in complementary disciplines. Careful attention is given to what history courses applicants have taken and how well they have done in them. The average grade point average of both applicants and admitted students is about 3.6 on a 4‑point scale. Applicants should notify the graduate school if their transcript is in a different name.

Writing Sample:

Your writing sample should be a representative paper; it should be analytical rather than creative in content. Readers will look for the lucidity of your thought and expression, your ability to analyze historical topics in a sophisticated manner, your ability to incorporate and enlarge upon previous critical work, and your demonstration of research skills. We ask that each applicant submit a writing sample to assess her or his abilities at historical research, writing, and analysis. Writing samples on historical subjects are preferable, but not required. There is no page limit to the writing sample, although it is understood that faculty reviewers may read only a portion of the longer submissions. Writing samples that involve original research and analysis are preferable to essays that are mere syntheses. We are especially interested in an applicant’s ability to formulate and make an original historical argument. If you have the MA degree you should submit your thesis if it is complete at the time of your application.

Statement of Purpose:

Your statement of purpose is a crucial component of your application. First, the statement should describe the academic training and other experiences that have prepared you to undertake graduate work in history. If relevant, this section might also describe your language skills. Second, the statement should describe your specific research interests and the wider significance of your proposed topic, keeping in mind that this is a provisional statement of intent. Third, the statement should describe why attending the graduate program at UNC would help you reach your professional goals. Here you might state the faculty members who might be interested in mentoring you or working with you in another capacity. The statement should be approximately two pages in length, single-spaced, and in 12-point font.

Letters of Recommendation:

At least three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to evaluate your academic and professional qualifications are required. No fewer than two of these letters should come from professors or instructors who have had the opportunity to observe your scholarly skills in History or in related fields. Recommendation letters should testify to your intellectual maturity and your preparedness to undertake graduate study. Letters that speak in detail about your academic work and your scholarly promise are more persuasive and useful than those which speak in generalities, however glowingly.

The most helpful letters are those written by faculty who know the student well and take the time to assess carefully his or her aptitude for graduate education. We especially value letters that discuss the applicant’s demonstrated skills at and experience with sustained historical research. (A letter from a professor of an undergraduate seminar or from a honors thesis adviser, for example, is likely to be more influential than a letter from a professor in a large lecture course.) Letters from employers are acceptable, but generally address issues of secondary importance in the admissions process.

The GRE:

The department requires only the standard GRE, not the “subject” test in history. The department does not have a “cutoff” score for the GREs.

Admissions decisions will be communicated at least by the first part of April.

For further information about the Graduate Program in History, contact the Graduate Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History, CB# 3195, Hamilton Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 3195 or 919.962.2115.

The Graduate School office, which oversees all graduate programs at the University, is located in 200 Bynum Hall, 919.966.2611. The Graduate School home page is