History (Ph.D.)

History (Ph.D.)

History students

The Ph.D. is intended to prepare students for professional careers in historical research.  In this department, all Ph.D. students specialize in U.S. history / colonial America.  Students with a particularly strong secondary field outside of U.S. history may write dissertations that involve comparative studies of U.S. history / colonial America.

Before writing any dissertation, Ph.D. students must demonstrate competence in reading a foreign language, then pass a set of written and oral comprehensive examinations.


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Curriculum & Requirements

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

A doctoral student's program, which must be approved by the graduate committee of the department, shall include each of the following requirements: two research seminars, one in early U.S. history and one in modern U.S. history; two reading seminars, HIST 939 Readings in Early American History and HIST 940 Readings in Modern American History; a course in historical methods; correction of any deficiencies in the student's previous program; proficiency in one foreign language; HIST 970 Graduate Seminar in Teaching History(applies to all doctoral candidates awarded teaching assistantships); HIST 971 Professionalization for Historians; preparation through reading and coursework in the entirety of U.S. history, with emphasis upon either early or modern U.S.; preparation through reading and coursework of two subfields outside of U.S. history, one of which may be a cognate field outside of history entirely; qualifying exams; dissertation proposal; and dissertation and successful defense.  

Candidacy is reached after successful completion of the following:

  1. required coursework listed above and courses to prepare fields or correct any deficiencies in the student's previous preparation;
  2. demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language;
  3. pass written and oral qualifying exams.

Note: In the definition of fields above, United States and U.S. are understood to mean the United States and its colonial antecedents.

Please consult the History Department's Graduate Student Handbook for additional details.

Apprenticeship and Degree Regulations

The department considers that graduate work in history, and particularly doctoral work, is professional training. The department recognizes the dual concerns of the historian's life: teaching and research. When feasible, all doctoral students are expected to undertake teaching in the department during a part of their residence. Participation in proseminar and in teaching constitutes an apprenticeship in conjunction with formal study. Doctoral students may choose to pursue the Cognate in College Teaching offered through the Graduate School. All graduate students are reviewed annually by the faculty of the department. A student accumulating two course failures is automatically barred from continuing in any degree program in history, but the department reserves the right to exclude others whose overall performance does not give reasonable assurance of a successful program completion. Students are allowed no more than three attempts to meet any language requirement.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Jan. 15
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: RI VT

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts are required for any school you earned a degree from, attended for at least one year, or attended for 2 or more semesters. Exceptions to this rule may be approved at the discretion of the program you are applying to and the UNH Graduate School Admission’s office.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Additional Department Requirements

All applicants must submit a writing sample with their application.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

International Applicants

The University of New Hampshire recommends that international applicants who are living outside of the United States, and are planning on pursuing a research based degree, submit a preapplication form before submitting a full application. Your preapplication request will be carefully reviewed and a decision usually provided within 3 weeks. If your preapplication is approved then it is recommended you then submit a full application. If you are currently living in the United States (on a H1B visa, etc.), or you plan on pursuing a professional master’s degree, then you do not need to submit a preapplication.

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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