Applications for admission are to be submitted electronically using the Graduate College online application system. If you have any difficulties please contact Shannon Croft, the Graduate Program Coordinator, at shannon9@illinois.edu.

Academic Statement of Purpose / Personal Statement

A key aspect of your application is a 2-3 page single-spaced academic statement of purpose and personal statement, combined together in a document of about 1500 words. This should consist of two elements.  The academic statement should describe your intellectual interests and experience, career goals, anticipated fields of study (geographic/chronological and thematic/comparative), the faculty with whom you would like to work, and your ability to do research in the language(s) relevant to your areas of study. The personal statement should indicate what experiences have shaped your thinking and motivated your decision to pursue a doctoral degree in history, in your particular field of study. You may present these elements in any way that you find most useful and compelling.

Please note that the online application portal now offers candidates the option to divide these two statements into separate documents; we prefer that you use the "Academic Statement" button to upload the combined document described above. If you wish to add any additional information that you deem pertinent, you may use the "Personal Statement" button for this purpose. If you are unable to submit the application without this attachment, and you have no additional information to supply, simply type  "Please see the Academic Statement." 

Sample of Written Work

Please submit a sample of your written work showing your ability to explore and interpret history using primary and secondary sources. This should be no more than 30 pages in length. The writing sample should be uploaded with your on-line application.

Letters of Reference

The application calls for three current (not more than one year old) letters of reference from persons who have direct knowledge of your academic performance and potential for graduate study. You will be required to enter three recommenders within the online application. They will be sent an automatic e-mail with instructions for submitting their recommendation. Recommenders can upload their recommendations as documents or type their recommendation directly into the system.

Graduate Records Examination score (GRE) is OPTIONAL, not required

Beginning in the fall of 2020, for admission in 2021-2022, a GRE score is not required for prospective applicants to the PhD and joint MA-MS degrees.

If you would like to take the exam and register your score, you will need to ask the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to submit official scores electronically to the university database.  When ETS asks for destination codes, enter 1836 as the institution code and leave the department code blank.  If you are currently in an MA or PhD program we will accept a copy of a GRE report regardless of when the exam was taken. In all other cases the exam scores must not be older than five years.


If you are an international applicant and English is not your first language, you must demonstrate  proficiency in English through a TOEFL or IELTS test. See https://grad.illinois.edu/admissions/instructions/04c for detailed information and minimum Graduate College scores. The History Department's minimum test scores are higher than those set by the Graduate College. For more details,  see the section on our website for international applicants. We strongly recommend that you take the Test of Written English (TWE) section of the TOEFL, which is given on certain test dates. You will be able to self-report your TOEFL test score and are encouraged to upload a copy of your score report.  Official test scores must be sent to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign using Institution Code 1836. 


Please submit an unofficial transcript with your application. A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (A=4.0), or comparable GPA for an international applicant, for last two years of undergraduate study is a minimum requirement for admission. If your undergraduate study is longer than 4 years, additional semesters may be used to calculate the admission GPA. Official transcripts are not a required component of the application.

Please note that successful applicants to the History grad program typically have a much higher GPA than the Grad College's minimum standard.

We ask for official transcripts after you receive a letter of admission from the Department of History. In the event that you are accepted into the graduate program, we require complete official transcripts for all previous academic training, both graduate and undergraduate. Each transcript must arrive in our office sealed in its original envelope. For domestic applicants: Transcripts must be sent directly to our office from the issuing institution. If the transcript does not show the degree earned, a separate certificate of degree must be provided at a later date. For international applicants: Each transcript must be in its original sealed envelope but the student may send it to our office in a packet with other materials. English and native language transcripts and certificates of degree are required to be uploaded. For applicants from China: In addition to the transcript, a separate certificate of degree is required, regardless of whether the degree earned is shown on the transcript.

Transcripts are to be sent to:

Graduate Program Coordinator
309 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801 USA

Official digital transcripts can be sent to: