PhD Program

The PhD program in History is one of the leading programs in the country that specifically emphasizes World History as a primary field. The department’s 19 full-time faculty members offer courses spanning the globe: from Asia to Africa to Latin America to Europe to the United States. Interdisciplinary and multidimensional, the program has particular strengths in legal, economic, gender, social, and education history.

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Its innovative curriculum and the faculty’s state-of-the-art research in Digital Humanities further distinguish Northeastern nationally. With rigorous training in historiography and methodology, Northeastern PhDs have consistently won prestigious awards and hold tenure-track positions at research institutions and liberal arts colleges nationally.

Emphasizing global approaches to historical study, the PhD program encourages students to think beyond national boundaries, comparatively, and in terms of themes that span geographically dispersed areas of the world-trade, migration, disease, religion, state formation, colonialism, and post-colonialism. Studies also include long-term historical processes, major global transformations, and interactions between states and colonial societies.

Candidates for the PhD in history may examine African, Asian, European, Latin American, or U.S. history in a world historical context. The program emphasizes mentoring of students in their courses, supervised teaching, and in the doctoral dissertation. Systematic training in theory and methodology and preparation for college teaching are distinctive features of the Northeastern program. All doctoral students undertake intensive reading in the theoretical literature that informs historical analysis, as well as in global historiography. Each student develops a deliberate methodological focus in an area such as cultural history, social history, environmental and biological history, or public history. Students are mentored in the practice of teaching and are encouraged to lecture and lead discussion sections under the supervision of faculty.

The Department of History maintains close ties with interdisciplinary programs such as Asian Studies; Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies; Law and Public Policy; Women Gender and Sexuality Studies; and with the Departments of African American Studies; Art and Architecture; English; Sociology and Anthropology; and Political Science. Graduate students may obtain a certificate in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. All doctoral candidates must develop and demonstrate a strong reading knowledge of the languages in which they will undertake research. In cases where students require training in languages not offered at Northeastern, the department helps them arrange to take courses at nearby institutions. The doctoral dissertation presents an original interpretation of a topic of historical significance based on detailed research into primary sources, a survey of the relevant literature, and skilled application of the theoretical and methodological apparatus germane to the topic.

Learn more about the PhD program in History program from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.

  • One of few PhD programs in the country that specifically emphasizes world history as a primary field of study
  • Geographical specialization and foreign language study are required
  • All PhD candidates participate in formal college teaching preparation
  • Students may enter the program from a Bachelor’s or Master’s level
  • Students in the Ph.D program generally receive funding for five years

Graduates of Northeastern’s PhD program have gone on to work in a range of academic programs and fields around the country and the world. Graduates who have earned a PhD are currently teaching and conducting research at various institutions, including Oberlin College, Butler University, Delaware State University, the National University of Singapore, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and the American University in Cairo, to name a few.  The diversity of these positions, as well as their prestige, speaks to the quality of graduate education at Northeastern University.

Our graduates pursue careers within academia and beyond, including:

  • University of California, Berkeley; Center for Middle Eastern Studies
  • Boston College
  • Macalester College
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Bates College
  • George Mason University
  • Merrimack College
  • The American University in Cairo

Application Materials

  • Application
  • Application fee – US $100
  • Personal statement
  • Unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended
  • English proficiency for international applicants
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – Optional
  • Writing sample
  • Resumé