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About the Graduate Program

The Department of History (DOH) at Purdue offers a wide range of coursework leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. As Big Ten departments go, ours is modest in size. As a result, we offer a great deal of flexibility to students in our program as well as close individual mentoring. 

The DOH comprises a diverse group of faculty members representing most of the usual subject fields from the fall of Rome through the present day. Like many other American universities in the past twenty years, Purdue has been successful in recruiting some of the best young talent in the profession, and we remain dedicated to recruiting and retaining a high quality graduate faculty. 

The department regularly offers classes and seminars in many aspects of history, including thematic, comparative, and global perspectives. The DOH also has close working relationships with a variety of interdisciplinary programs where history graduate students sometimes find useful courses and mentors (see Areas of Study). 

At any given time there are between 30 and 40 graduate students in residence. Our graduate students come from more than 20 states coast to coast and from several countries. Many come from smaller universities and liberal arts colleges, others are drawn from large universities such as Indiana, Brigham Young, Rutgers, and Wisconsin.    

In recent years the majority of our graduate students have been seeking the Ph.D. as their ultimate objective. Students with a B.A. degree may apply for the master's program (with the option to apply later for doctoral work) or for direct admission into the "fast-track" doctoral program. The stand-alone M.A. generally takes two years to complete. The fast-track doctoral program takes at least five years and includes the award of an M.A. after the successful completion of   30 credit hours. Students with an M.A. in hand usually go directly into the doctoral program and spend about four years completing their degree. For full details regarding these degree options see the links below. The Graduate School requires doctoral programs to be completed by the end of eight years' full-time study. 

Financial aid is almost always required by graduate students pursuing the Ph.D. degree, and we rarely admit students into our programs without support. The bulk of our financial aid consists of Teaching Assistantships (see Scholarships & Funding). The College of Liberal Arts and the Graduate School administer a small number of fellowships as well. 

Students admitted with funding to the fast-track doctoral program (and making good progress toward their degree) may expect to have their appointments renewed for a total of five years. Doctoral students with an M.A. in hand admitted with funding (and making good progress toward their degree) may expect four years of support. Students seeking the M.A. alone typically will not be offered financial aid.  

A graduate program’s real strengths can best be determined by reviewing the records of the faculty who teach there. Prospective students are urged to study the faculty roster, faculty web pages, and the course catalog to evaluate the “fit” between their own interests and the strengths of the department. Particular questions can be directed to Graduate Advisor O.T Ford at