The University of North Carolina’s History Department has long been a leading force in the academic study of military history, conceived broadly as ranging from battlefield to ballot box, from home front to high altitude bombing. Military history is necessarily studied with deep attention to the relevant societies as well as to the specific events of a given conflict. Furthermore, it is often conducted from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We seek, therefore, to expose students in the field to the full range of the human experience of warfare, from the ancient world to contemporary problems in counterinsurgency.
The graduate program in military history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is part of a collaborative program with Duke. Graduate students in History pursue a normal course of study and receive their graduate degree at one University or the other. Those concentrating in military history, or offering military history as a field of study, work with the military history faculty at both universities and take core courses. Participating faculty further collaborate on qualifying examinations and the supervision of theses and dissertations. Students at UNC admitted in the military history field will offer military history as their primary field, and then typically follow the field requirements related to a geographical field such as U.S. History, European History, Global History, or the like. Other arrangements of the fields are possible upon consultation with their adviser.
The following graduate courses in military history are commonly offered. The first two (717 and 951) are required for those concentrating in the field and are offered every year.
Introduction to Military History (Hist 717)
An examination of major and emerging works in military history, theory, and the study of war and military affairs. Reading ranges across several disciplines and genres, including sociology and political science, biography, and war and battle narratives.
Research Seminar in Military History (Hist 951)
An introduction to research in the field that should result in a major research product. This course is taken in the spring of the first year, and students will alternate reading classic texts in military history (Clausewitz, Thucydides, Mao, etc.) with discussions of project conceptualization and research strategies. Students choose a topic that may serve as all or part of a thesis or dissertation. Papers are researched, written, and critiqued in the first semester, then revised into a completed MA thesis in a general History Department research seminar during the following fall.
Colloquium in World Military History (Hist 718)
The literature on warfare from ancient times to the present, with concentration on the European experience. The course approaches war and military institutions broadly, as social as well as political and economic constructs, which can be understood only in their full cultural context.
Colloquium in American Military History (Hist 860)
The literature on the American military experience, from colonial times to the present, emphasizing different approaches to war, military institutions, leadership, and civil-military relations in the broader context of American history.
The History Departments at both UNC and Duke offer other courses in military history and related fields, such as the history of technology, war and gender, foreign affairs and international relations, and various national histories, which will be of interest to students concentrating in military history. In addition, faculty from other disciplines (e.g. political science, public policy) at the two universities also participate in the program.
For information on the Military History field graduate comprehensive exams, consult the Graduate Student Handbook.
For a current list of graduate students working in the Field of Military History, please go to the Graduate Students page and click “Military History” in the Interests/Concentrations tab.
UNC Military History Ph.D. Books
(The following is sorted by date of Ph.D., most recent first. These authors either specialized in military history or did a comprehensive field in military history. It is not a complete list).
Rory McGovern (2017) , George W. Goethals and the Army: Change and Continuity in the Guilded Age and Progressive Era (UNC Press, 2019).
Brian Drohan (2016), Brutality in an Age of Human Rights: Activism and Counterinsurgency at the End of the British Empire (Cornell 2018).
Courtney Short (2016), Uniquely Okinawan: Determining Identity During the U.S. Wartime Occupation (Fordham University, 2020).
Ryan Peeks (2015), Aircraft Carrier Requirements and Strategy, 1977-2001 (Department of the Navy, 2020).
Mary Beth Basile Chopas (2013), Search for Subversives: The Story of Italian Internment in Wartime America (UNC Press, 2017)
Richards Plavniek (2013), Nazi Collaborators on Trial during the Cold War: Viktors Arājs and the Latvian Auxiliary Security Police (Palgrave, 2017).
Patrick A. Kent (2012), A History of the Pyrrhic War (Routledge, 2019)
Dwight Mears (2012), The Medal of Honor: The Evolution of America’s Highest Military Decoration (Kansas, 2018)
Mark L. Bradley (2009), Bluecoats and Tar Heels: Soldiers and Civilians in Reconstruction North Carolina (Kentucky, 2009)
Gregory A. Daddis (2009), No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War (Oxford 2011);Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam (Oxford 2015); Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam (Oxford 2017)
Melvin G. Deaile (2008), Always at War: Organizational Culture in Strategic Air Command, 1946-62 (NIP, 2018).
Jacqueline Whitt (2008), Bringing God to Men: American Military Chaplains and the Vietnam War (UNC Press, 2014); Grunts: The American Combat Soldier in Vietnam, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2020).
John W. Hall (2007), Uncommon Defense: Indian Allies in the Black Hawk War (Harvard, 2010).
Adam R. Seipp (2007), Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952 (Indiana, 2013)
Christopher Hamner (2004), Enduring Battle: American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1775-1945 (Kansas, 2011).
Edward B. Westermann, (2000), Hitler’s Police Battalions: Enforcing Racial War in the East (Kansas, 2005)