PhD in History Program Information

Ph.D. programs in history are available in a variety of specializations. Typically, students focus on either a geographic region such as the Middle East, or a time period such as medieval history.

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.

  • Program Levels: Doctoral degrees
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, some programs require master's degree for entry
  • Other Requirements: Dissertation, fluency in foreign language for 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 instructor
  • Writer
  • Political consultant
  • Historian

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 $55,870 as of May 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ( Employment of historians is projected to see a 6% increase between 2012 and 2022.

Anthropologists and archaeologists earned a median annual salary of $59,280 as of May 2014. Job growth is expected to be faster than the average for all occupations at 19% from 2012 to 2022.

History professors brought in a median annual income of $66,840 as of May 2014. Job growth is expected to be 19% from 2012 to 2022 for postsecondary teachers in general, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

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