Skip to: Admission, Funding, or Requirements
office: 555 Park Hall
phone: (716) 645-8406
OUTLINE OF THE Ph.D PROGRAM
The aim of the Ph.D. program is to train applicants for careers
at the highest levels of the historical profession, such as college
and university teaching and research. The program at UB has three
stages: coursework, taken in the first two years, followed by preparation
for written and oral exams in three fields, then researching, writing,
and defending a dissertation. (Although the process can be condensed
into a single sentence, one should note that it typically takes
from six to eight years to complete a Ph.D. in history.) At present,
the department offers the Ph.D. in six major fields: American History,
Early Modern Europe (1400-1789), Modern Europe (1789-present), North
and South Atlantic History, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The course work of the first two
years emphasizes key aspects of the profession. The required seminar
in historical inquiry, for instance, aims to acquaint students with
the various methodological and theoretical considerations involved
in “doing” history, while core courses in the major
field areas are designed to help students gain the knowledge and
background necessary to teach a particular field. These courses
are supplemented by research seminars, which offer in-depth exploration
of a particular field of specialization and allow students to become
accustomed to conducting original research. This course work also
helps students prepare the three areas—one of the five major
fields, a field of specialization within the major field, and a
minor field—in which they will take comprehensive oral and
The final part of the Ph.D. is researching and writing the dissertation. The
process begins with the preparation of a dissertation prospectus in the semester
following successful completion of the comprehensive examinations. It customarily
entails an extended period of research away from the university, and usually
takes several years from start to finish..
* Baccalaureate degree or equivalent
* Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better
* 18 credit hours of history
* The aptitude portion (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing) of the GRE
The application deadline for students
who would like to enter the Ph.D. program in the Fall semester is
January 5th. For more information please email the Administrative Assistant or phone us at (716)645-2181. To apply, follow these simple steps:
1. Application: use the on-line form -- please choose "History PhD" from the drop
down menu. There is a nonrefundable $75 fee (pay online, or send a check or money
order made out to the University at Buffalo and payable in U.S. funds)
2. Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
3. Three letters of recommendation, preferably from professors in
history or related disciplines. (Recommendation Letter Form)
4. Sample of written work (see below*)
5. Statement of purpose (see below**)
6. The aptitude portion (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing) of the
GRE. Please Note: UB's Institution Code is 2925. GRE scores should no more than three years old at the time of application.
Internet based TOEFL = 79
7. For international students, the financial statement and a TOEFL score (for
those whose native language is not English). For U.S. citizens whose native
language is not English, a TOEFL score. The minimum TOEFL scores are as follows:
Paper based TOEFL = 550
Computer test = 213
*What is the writing sample? What should I submit?
- The writing sample should be an academic paper of approximately 20-40 pages that demonstrates significant engagement with primary and secondary historical sources, ideally in the field of study you wish to pursue.
**What is the “Statement of Purpose"?
In 800-1000 words, tell us about your reasons for applying to the program, and what you plan to accomplish while you are here. Please be sure to consider the following questions:
What in your intellectual and/or personal history led you to choose a career in history? Are there particular books, topics, or approaches that inspired your interest?
- What topic and/or field do you plan to focus on in your coursework and research? What ideas do you have for your own original research (dissertation)? Why does this subject interest you?
- How does your proposed area of study coincide with the work of professors in our department? Who among the faculty might be reasonable choices to serve on a dissertation committee for your chosen topic?
- Please visit the American Historical Association page for further advice on the application process.
With rare exceptions, the Department regularly offers a minimum of four
years of support—usually in the form of a T.A. (Teaching Assistant)
line—to all applicants to whom we extend an offer of admission for full-time
full-time, supported students in the first four years of our Ph.D.
program receive a financial aid package from
$15,000 -22,000, including the cost of health care, plus a full tuition scholarship.
The above financial aid numbers reflect that most of our students successfully compete for a variety of departmental,
College, and external fellowships and grants that provide generous stipends
for dissertation research and for the final stages of dissertation writing.
Opportunities also exist for advanced Ph.D. students who have served as Teaching
Assistants for four years to teach their own undergraduate courses as paid adjuncts,
or teaching associates. Thus, most students can count on an additional fifth
year of support, while our very best students frequently receive six, or even
seven, years of support.
Outline of available funding:
- T.A. Stipends. Currently set at $12,180 per academic
year, plus full tuition scholarship. This is the base
stipend, to which additional fellowships and scholarships will be
added as supplements. Teaching Assistants are required
to teach, normally serving as assistants to History Department
professors in the American History survey or in the required UB
World Civilizations sequence. Teaching Assistants are responsible
for attending lectures and supervising two to three recitation
sections per semester.
- Plesur Fellowships. Available only to graduate students
in History, the department provides such fellowships to new and
continuing students—either in conjunction with a regular
T.A. line, or with a Presidential Fellowship or Dean’s Scholarship.
Plesur Fellowships range from $2,000 to $6,000.
- Presidential Fellowships. A university-wide program
that provides a fellowship award of $4,000 to $6,000
per academic year for up to four years, offered to an incoming
student in addition to a regular T.A. line or the equivalent (e.g.,
a Plesur Fellowship). .
In recent years, the History Department has successfully nominated
at least one new applicant to the Ph.D. program for a Presidential
Fellowship each year.
- Dean’s Scholarships. A College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)
program that provides a fellowship award of $4,000 per academic
year for up to four years, offered to an incoming student in addition
to a regular T.A. line or the equivalent (e.g., a Plesur Fellowship). In recent years,
the History Department has successfully nominated at least one
new applicant to the Ph.D. program for a Dean’s Scholarship
- College Scholarships. A College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) program
that provides a fellowship award of $2,000 per academic year for
up to four years, offered to an incoming student in addition to
a regular T.A. line.
- Schomburg Minority Fellowships. Provide a stipend of $10,000
per academic year, plus a tuition waiver for four years. There is
no teaching obligation attached to this fellowship.
- Plesur/Lockwood Dissertation Travel Awards. Advanced Ph.D. students
may compete each year for money designated to support travel and living expenses
to conduct extensive dissertation research outside of Western New York. The
department regularly awards several Plesur (or Lockwood) Dissertation Travel
Grants. Most recently, the department has, for example, awarded three
students such funding, with offers ranging from $10,000 to $12,000
- CAS Dissertation Fellowships. These dissertation writing fellowships
are designated for students in the last year or so of writing,
and are available on a competitive basis. History Department
Ph.D. students have been among the most successful of all applicants
in the College of Arts and Sciences. The award is for
$4,000; to encourage students to work full time writing dissertations,
the History Department offers each recipient an additional $2,000
from Plesur funds to supplement the $4,000 Dissertation Fellowship
provided by CAS. Thus, the total award package available
is for $6,000.
- Plesur Conference Travel Funds. Students traveling to the AHA
annual meeting for scheduled job interviews, as well as others attending a
scholarly conference and/or presenting scholarly papers at such conferences,
may apply for support from the Department of History. The Department provides
Plesur funds for such purposes in order to encourage active participation
in the broader scholarly community of historians.
Historical Inquiry (History 501) is required of all Ph.D.
students and must be taken during the fall semester of the first
year of doctoral study. The course offers an introduction to the
theory and philosophy of history and is intended to acquaint students
with various problems in historical analysis and understanding.
All doctoral students must take at least two of the following core
seminars: History 502 and 503, “Core seminar in American history”;
History 504 and 505, “Core seminar in European history”;
History 507, “Core seminar in East Asian history; History
506, "Core seminar in North and South Atlantic History"; and History 559 and 560, "Core seminar in Latin American and Caribbean History".
Students must take at least two 600-level research seminars.
All Ph.D. students must fulfill a distribution requirement by taking
at least one course (outside of the student's major field) that
covers an area outside the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
All doctoral students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of at
least one foreign language; in some fields two languages are required.
Students are expected to take their major language exams before
their third semester. All language examinations must be passed before
a student can take his or her Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations.
Before being admitted to candidacy, all doctoral students must successfully
complete a series of oral and written examinations in three fields: a major
field, a field of specialization within the major field, and a minor field.
These examinations are usually taken during the third year of study.
The major field is the broadest level at which a student will carry out research
and teach. The field of specialization normally reflects a choice as to the
prospective area of dissertation research; it is, as the title suggests, more
focused and specialized than the major field. The minor field is meant to complement
the major field, typically by adding useful theoretical or methodological competencies
or by supplementing the major field with knowledge of another geographical or
thematic area. It should not overlap with the major field.
All doctoral students who satisfactorily complete their oral examinations must prepare and defend a dissertation prospectus of ten to fifteen pages describing their proposed research, the archives they plan to visit, and placing the project within an historiographical framework. The prospectus is to be defended before the department within six months of the doctoral examinations.
The culmination of the Ph.D. is the preparation and defense of the dissertation,
a substantial work of original research. There are three stages to this process.
First, a student must submit, normally by the end of the third year, a written
prospectus to his or her Dissertation Committee [See "Dissertation Prospectus
Defense" below]. The Committee must approve the prospectus before further
work on the dissertation may take place. The second stage involves researching
and writing the dissertation. Finally, the completed dissertation must be read
and approved by the student’s committee, by an outside reader (who is
not a member of the history department) and successfully defended. The dissertation
defense consists of an oral examination conducted by the student’s dissertation
Monday, March 16, 2015