Prospective Students: Welcome and Overview

As Director of Graduate Studies, it is my pleasure to introduce you to graduate studies in the Department of History at Illinois. Our program offers students a collaborative approach to the training of professional historians who will carry our discipline forward in the decades to come. Our accomplished and innovative faculty represent many different backgrounds and interests, yielding a range of course offerings and intellectual opportunities, supported by the resources of one of the world’s great research libraries. Together with our graduate students, we have built an active and supportive community that nurtures and challenges scholars from a variety of backgrounds, and whose rich diversity of experiences we highly we value.

The pages below introduce the fields of study in which we boast significant strengths, the degree requirementsfor the PhD and the dual MA degree in HIstory and MS in Library and Information Science, financial aid information, details on the application process, and information for international students.

If you are interested in applying to our program, I would encourage you to contact members of the faculty with whom you want to work, noting that many faculty train students in numerous fields and methods. To learn more about individuals and how to contact them, see the Directory. To apply, please visit the Graduate College’s application portal.

We encourage you to visit, if possible, and meet with faculty and current graduate students. Some of our graduate seminars, and many of our reading groups, colloquia, special lectures, and extracurricular initiatives are also accessible via Zoom. Please contact individual faculty if would like to attend one of these.

Professional development and career diversity ~ Throughout the year, department-sponsored workshops provide opportunities for students to develop dissertation topics, prepare grant proposals, polish thesis chapters, practice job talks, and sharpen interview skills. We are committed to ongoing professional development and to the recognition that a PhD in history is applicable to a wide variety of careers. Our department is closely involved with the American Historical Association’s Career Diversity project and is also one of five history departments currently participating in the American Association of University's PhD Education Initiative

Teaching ~ The department provides graduate students the opportunity to enter the classroom as teaching assistants (TAs) beginning in their second year.  Advanced (ABD) students are usually offered the opportunity to develop and teach their own courses, enabling them to build an exceptionally strong teaching portfolio.

Graduate student leadership ~ Our department fosters and supports an active History Graduate Student Association (HGSA), which advocates for all students in the department and represents the graduate student body in nearly all departmental committees, including the Diversity Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee. It also sponsors workshops, social and cultural events, a mentoring program for new students, and opportunities to forge networks across cohorts and research interests. The department is also an active supporter of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) (Local 6300 IFT/AFT AFL-CIO, a home-grown labor union in which many of our students are leaders.

The department promotes active intellectual exchange with the many cross-disciplinary units at the university. These centers include but are not limited to the following:

For more information contact Prof. Carol Symes, Director of Graduate Studies, symes@illinois.edu