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Graduate Frequently Asked Questions

What fields of study do you accept students for the graduate program?

We currently are accepting applications for the following fields only:

United State 19th century
Latin America
Early Modern Global (Europe & South Asia)
China (Qing and 20th Century)

When is the application deadline?

January 1st

How many get accepted to your program?

We receive approximately 180 applications and accept 6-8 students per year (spread across all fields).

Do you accept terminal MA students?

No, although we accept students who only have a BA (and thus will receive an MA as part of their doctoral studies at Penn State) we only admit those students whose ultimate goal is getting their PhD at Penn State.

My recommenders haven't received a form to submit their letter of recommendation?

An email does not get sent out from the application system until you complete and submit your application. Only at that point will your recommenders receive their instructions for uploading their letters of recommendation.

Can I have a fourth person submit a letter of recommendation?

The application allows only three letters of recommendations to be uploaded and we advise you to stay within this limit.

How do I apply for an assistantship?

The department only admits those students we can fund so there is no need to apply for an assistantship. If you receive an offer of admission, a funding package will be included.

How do I apply for a dual-title degree with History and another program?

There is no need for a special application if you are interested in applying for a dual-title degree (Asian Studies and Women's Studies). You should, however, indicate your interest at the appropriate place on the application. Only after you are accepted by the Department of History for admission will your application be forwarded (internally) to the dual-title degree partner department.

What are the school codes for the GRE?

School Code: 2660; Dept Code 2799

Where do I mail my official transcripts ?

Penn State University
Department of History
Attn: Director of Graduate Studies
108 Weaver Building
University Park, PA 16802

Must I list which faculty member's research is of interest to me?

Yes. We admit new students into the history program and not into the direct sponsorship of individual faculty. Nevertheless, we ask that applicants indicate on the application the faculty with whom they anticipate collaborating. Typically by the end of the first year, students will make the decision about whom they should select as their advisor.

Do I have to introduce myself to faculty before my file is reviewed?

No, you are not required to contact faculty before the review. However, e-mailing, calling, and otherwise contacting the professor(s) you hope to work with is heavily encouraged.

How does the admissions process work?

The Department has a recruitment and admissions committee that evaluates applications. This committee consists of representatives from each of the major fields of study offered by the department, plus the Director of Graduate Studies. In addition, an individual student's file will be passed on for comment to specific faculty members with whom the applicant is likely to study.

How important is my Statement of Intent?

In a word: very. The detail with which you describe your background, your plan of graduate coursework and research, and the faculty you intend to work with at Penn State all are taken extremely seriously and can make or break an application.

What is the purpose of the writing sample?

The writing sample should not only offer the admissions committee a sense of how well one writes, but also one's level of sophistication and familiarity with the specific historiographical trends.

What does the committee look for?

The committee, of course, takes test scores, recommendations, and GPA into account. In addition, in the past five years, most successful applicants score above 160 on the verbal and have an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher. But outstanding numbers do not necessarily guarantee admission, and lower ones do not inevitably mean rejection.

The committee scrutinizes the Statement of Intent and the writing sample with special care. We are looking for evidence of intellectual engagement, openness to new ideas and methods, capacity for originality, and the ability to think critically and to write clearly. "Fit" with our areas of strength is important, too.

Where relevant, appropriate language preparation must be demonstrated.

Is the study of a previous foreign language necessary?

Language preparation sufficient to be able to pass a language proficiency exam relevant to one’s primary field of study by the fourth semester is required. Additional languages depending upon one’s area (particularly for  those interested in specializing in European or Asian history) are also extremely beneficial.

News and Events
Bill Cossen has been awarded the Bernard Bellush Prize
Rob Shafer has been awarded a fellowship opportunity
David G. Smith's book has been published
Rachel Moran was featured on BackStory with the American History Guys
Bill Cossen has been awarded a research travel grant
John Hoenig's article will be published in the Winter of 2013
Sean Trainor will be presenting his paper in Washington, DC
Jan Logemann's book has been published
Evan Rothera won the Outstanding Graduate Paper Award
Alfred Wallace was awarded the Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller Graduate Research Grant
Hongyan Xiang was granted a research travel award by the Asian Institute
Hsin-fang Wu awarded a dissertation fellowship
Bill Cossen has been awarded the Dorothy Mohler Research Grant
Courtney Rong Fu's chapter has been published
Sean Trainor has been awarded a short-term fellowship
Deirdre Fulton has accepted a new position
Bill Cossen has won the 2012 George P. Hammond prize
History Majors win three thesis awards
Will Bryan has won an award
Katie Falvo has been granted a fellowship award
Andrea Gatzke has been appointed Assistant Professor
Bill Cossen's article appears in The South Carolina Historical Magazine
David Hensley accepts position at Queens University, Belfast
Tyler Sperrazza selected for the Filson MA Fellowship
Kenneth Ristau has accepted a position at MacEwan University
Courtney Rong Fu recently presented a paper at West Chester University
Michael Tuttle recently presented a paper at the R.S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology
Michael Gabriel has won an award
Jennifer J. Davis's book has been published
Christine Reese has accepted a tenure-track position with Louisiana College
Andrea Gatzke wins 2012 IAH Summer Residency
Evan Rothera receives Thomas Critchlow Award and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant
John Hoenig studies quest for the 12-month tomato
Bill Cossen recently presented a paper
Hongyan Xiang's article has been published
Rachel Moran received a Postdoctoral Fellowship
Sean Trainor's articles have recently been featured
Sean Trainor was recently interviewed
Bill Cossen's article will be published
David Hensley's article will appear in the Journal of Belgian History
Bill Cossen has been awarded the Presidential Graduate Scholarship
Bill Cossen's article has been accepted for an upcoming issue
Evan Rothera received a Filson Fellowship
Utsa Ray, a 2009 PhD graduate, has been appointed
Bill Cossen's article has appeared in American Catholic Studies
Lauren Kaplow has accepted a visiting Assistant Professorship
Jeffrey Rop has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professorship
Tim Wesley has accepted a tenure-track position
Courtney Rong Fu has been named a 2014 Career Development Awardee
Antwain Hunter has accepted a tenure-track position
Sean Trainor's article has appeared in The Appendix
Eric Welch has been offered a Hill Dissertation Fellowship
Hsin-fang Wu has been named a 2014 Career Development Awardee
Sean Trainor was recently interviewed
William Cossen elected as GSA Representative
Sean Trainor awarded two fellowships
Hongyan Xiang receives USF Ricci Doctoral Research Fellowship
Three students awarded IAH Graduate Student Summer Residencies
Three students place in the Graduate School's Graduate Exhibition
Bill Cossen's paper has been accepted
Jason Strandquist has been selected as a participant
Sean Trainor was recently awarded
Mark Christensen's first book has been published
Michael Tuttle wins Clark G. Reynold Student Paper Award for his paper entitled "Women in Western Waters: Myth and Reality"
Evan Rothera presents paper entitled “Beyond Comparative Emancipation: Comparative Reconstructions as a Category of Analysis" at an international conference in Germany
Evan Rothera presents paper at interdisciplinary conference at Chestnut Hill College
Rachel Moran presents paper, awarded NSF travel grant
Chris Hayashida-Knight has received a research grant
Sean Trainor has been awarded a fellowship
The Richards Center and our graduate students were featured in an article
Hongyan Xiang recently gave a talk at the University of Toronto
Karen Younger (PhD, 2006) has accepted a position
Will Bryan has been selected as a nominee
Bill Cossen was recently interviewed
Will Bryan received a Post-Doctoral Fellowship
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