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PhD in History Program Information

Ph.D. programs in history are available in a variety of specializations. Typically, these programs give students the choice to focus on particular geographic regions or time periods to prepare them for careers in teaching, writing, or politics, among other options.

Essential Information

While history Ph.D. programs are most commonly pursued with teaching in mind, certain specializations are relevant to other career fields in both the public and private sectors. Graduates might seek work in museums, libraries or nonprofit organizations.

United States history doctoral degree programs offer students the opportunity to become experts in the breadth of American culture, history and society. Middle Eastern history Ph.D. programs study the Arab world, including the present-day countries of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Students focus on Israel and its role in the region.

Ancient history Ph.D. programs offer students the opportunity to become fluent in the earliest major civilizations in human history. Courses in any of these programs typically explore the literature, politics, language and art of each area or era.

Prerequisites for these doctoral degrees include a bachelor's degree, with a master's being required by some programs. Students usually need to complete a dissertation before receiving their Ph.D, with fluency in foreign language required by some ancient history programs.


Ph.D. in United States History

Students focusing on this topic are critical thinkers, researchers and writers as they work towards completing their doctoral dissertation. Courses in United States history Ph.D. programs cover cultural trends and political history, along with how United States history has been shaped by or affected various groups, such as Native Americans or women. Common courses will include:

  • American women's history
  • African American history
  • Native American history
  • Social politics in the United States
  • United States Civil War
  • Colonial America

Ph.D. in Middle Eastern History

Coursework in Middle Eastern history Ph.D. programs covers modern history, ancient history, politics and language. Most students become proficient in Arabic, Hebrew or another Middle Eastern language in order to complete their program. Common classes include:

  • Politics of the Middle East
  • Historical Middle Eastern literature
  • Islamic history and theology
  • Advanced Arabic language
  • Advanced Hebrew language
  • The Crusades

Ph.D. in Ancient History

Many of these programs are interdisciplinary, drawing upon fields including classics, art and religion. Courses in ancient history Ph.D. programs focus on the politics and cultures of ancient civilizations in Egypt, Greece and other regions. Additionally, most students study one or more ancient languages while completing their studies. Other classes that students can expect include:

  • Art of the ancient world
  • Athens and Sparta
  • History of the Roman Empire
  • History of ancient Egypt
  • Advanced Latin language
  • Archaeology and papyrology

Popular Career Options

While teaching is the most popular reason for pursuing a Ph.D. in United States history, graduates of these programs are qualified for a variety of careers that draw upon their advanced understanding of the country and strong communication skills. Graduates often find jobs such as:

  • United States history instructors
  • Writers
  • Political consultants
  • Historians

The most commonly pursued career for a graduate of a Middle Eastern history Ph.D. program is in teaching. However, many find work with international organizations or government agencies, due to the global importance of the region. Possible careers include:

  • Middle Eastern history instructor
  • Translator
  • Cultural adviser

Graduates of ancient history Ph.D. programs have many possible career options, including positions working in education and museums, as well as in the field as an archaeologist. Possible job titles are:

  • Archaeologist
  • Museum curator
  • Ancient history instructor
  • Archivist

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Historians earned a median annual income of $55,800 as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), (www.bls.gov). Employment of historians is projected to see a 2% increase between 2014 and 2024.

Anthropologists and archaeologists earned a median annual salary of $61,220 as of May 2015. Job growth for these fields is expected to be 4% from 2014 to 2024.

History professors brought in a median annual income of $69,400 as of May 2015. Job growth is expected to be 13% from 2012 to 2022 for postsecondary teachers in general, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Ph.D programs in history usually offer students the chance to specialize in certain geographical regions and/or time periods. These programs can prepare students for careers as teachers, archaeologists, archivists, and more.

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