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 the Graduate Coordinator, Diana deProphetis (dianadep@email.unc.edu), or Sarah Shields, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

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.

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.

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 3, 2019. The History Department strongly urges interested students to submit their applications by November 19, 2019. All materials are to be submitted online; the application fee is $95. 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 20, 2018 (previous deadline). The admissions committee begins to review applications immediately thereafter.

Incomplete or late applications cannot be considered. Please keep track of the status of your application online.

Further Application Information

Please read the Instructions for Graduate Applicants from the UNC Graduate School carefully while preparing your application.

Please upload unofficial transcripts through the application portal, as unofficial transcripts tend to upload better and are easier to view. If you are admitted, you will need to submit your official transcript to the UNC Graduate School following admission.

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.

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.

At least three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to evaluate your academic and professional qualifications are required. At least 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 that speak in generalities, however glowingly.

The most helpful letters are those written by faculty who know you well and take the time to assess carefully your 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 an 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 department requires that all applicants take the standard GRE. Applicants’ GRE scores must be from within the past five years. Applicants do not need to take the “subject” test in history. The department does not have a “cutoff” score for the GREs. The UNC Graduate School recommends that applicants take the GRE no later than mid-October.

FAQs for Applying to the PhD Program in History at UNC Chapel Hill

About Our Program

We do not offer an online PhD program. Our program is a full-time program on-site.

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. Our expectation is that all our students, even those who enter with a bachelor’s degree, are working towards doctoral degrees.

 The History Department at UNC-Chapel Hill is committed to offering financial aid to as many as possible of the graduate students in our program. Almost all entering History PhD students are recipients of five years of financial support. These packages include tuition, health insurance, and an annual stipend set by the graduate school. The department also tries to supplement this financial support with summer research funding.

Additional funding opportunities are available through recruitment fellowships and grantsfrom the UNC Graduate School. These fellowships either supplement the base stipend or provide full stipend support at a higher level than the base stipends. The admissions committee nominates exceptional applicants for these prestigious fellowships and no additional application is required.

Application Process 

The department requires that all applicants take the standard GRE. Applicants’ GRE scores must be from within the past five years. Applicants do not need to take the “subject” test in history. The department does not have a “cutoff” score for the GREs. The UNC Graduate School recommends that applicants take the GRE no later than mid-October.

When taking the GRE, please send your GRE scores to UNC Chapel Hill Graduate School (institution #5816). No departmental code is required. In your application, please provide self-reported GRE scores. Once you have submitted your application, the UNC Graduate School will begin matching your official score report to your application. It will take a minimum of seven business days to verify your self-reported scores with your official score report. If more than seven days have passed since submitting your application, contact the UNC Graduate School to check on the status of your score report.

The deadline for the next admissions cycle will be announced in September 2019. (The previous deadline was December 4, 2018.) The application portal closes at 11:59 PM EST on the posted deadline date. Our department highly suggests submitting your application two weeks in advance of the posted deadline.

In fairness to all of our applicants, we do not accept late applications.

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 (919.962.9823) or the Director of Graduate Studies. Alternatively, contact the Department of History, at 919.962.2115 or CB# 3195, Hamilton Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 3195.

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 http://gradschool.unc.edu/