Sarah Shields
Director of Graduate Studies

The University of North Carolina Graduate program in History strives to train historians to serve in a wide variety of areas: as teachers of the next generation of university students, as scholars struggling to make sense of the past, as public intellectuals working to explain how history matters to the present.  Our Ph.D.s teach at major research universities, at liberal arts colleges, in military academies, at community colleges, and in K-12 schools.  They work for the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Park Service, and a wide variety of both public agencies and private companies.  This diversity reflects the rich variety of our subject fields, theoretical approaches, and thematic areas of historical investigation, as well as the flexibility of our MA and PhD degree requirements.

Our program is defined by a spirit of collaborative inquiry, a culture of faculty mentorship, and a tradition of mutual support.  The work of the History Department at Chapel Hill is facilitated by an excellent library system (the combined resources of UNC and Duke place our library collections in the top ten nationally) and vibrant relationships with all the institutions of higher learning in the Triangle area. This broad sense of intellectual community helps to guide the innovative teaching and research of faculty and students alike.

We have a remarkable group of historians-in-training who contribute to the intellectual life of our university as scholars, teachers, and activists. Our students win fellowships and grants from prestigious organizations such the Fulbright-Hayes program, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Medieval Academy of America. They garner fellowships from the Graduate School and other units within the university. They present papers at major conferences, and they publish in leading journals such as History and Memory. Together they form a community that engages in common pursuit of excellence. They are also proud members of an enduring tradition of graduate studies in history at UNC. Since 1926 the History Department has conferred 887 PhD degrees. Our graduate students form the core of numerous intellectual gatherings, including many of the university’s Carolina Seminars, speakers’ series, and individual lectures. Our students help improve the program through their participation in our Town Hall Meetings. They have mobilized to help others, and to protest injustice and intolerance, during these uncertain times. Graduate students organize the department’s ongoing conferences and exchanges with the History Department at King’s College, London, and during the summers our graduate students participate in a variety of internships and in outreach programs with the National Humanities Center.

Please do contact me with questions about our program, sshields@email.unc.edu

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