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History PhD Program Rankings: List of Top Schools

Learn about the top universities that offer history Ph.D. programs. Compare and contrast school rankings, specialization options and university locations to make an informed decision on how you'd like to pursue your education. View article »

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  • 0:05 School Overviews
  • 0:45 UNC at Chapel Hill
  • 1:39 Brown University in…
  • 2:35 Harvard University in…
  • 3:22 Top History Ph.D. Programs

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Video Transcript

School Overviews

Students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in history can enroll in programs at many top universities across the country. Let's explore a few of these top schools and the specific programs that they offer.

At the following top ranked schools you may choose a field of interest in areas such as American history, women's history, world history, African American history or modern European history. These programs can last 5-6 years, and completion of a dissertation is required.

Let's take a look the a Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. programs in history at three of U.S. News and World Report's top ranked universities.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Doctoral applicants to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a M.A. from another school must have their thesis reviewed and accepted before admission to the Ph.D. program.

In 2017, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill placed fifth in U.S. News & World Report's ranking of top public schools. In 2013, UNC was tied for 11th in U.S. News & World Report's ranking of the best graduate schools for history.

The history department's Ph.D. program offers research fields in subjects such as ancient history, women's history, military history, global history and U.S. history. A research dissertation is required to complete the program, and candidates must demonstrate either a minimal proficiency in two foreign languages or an advanced proficiency in one foreign language.

Brown University in Providence, RI

Brown University typically only enrolls 10-12 Ph.D. students each year.

In 2017, U.S. News & World Report placed this Ivy League university 14th in its ranking of best national universities. The magazine also ranked Brown University tied for 18th in its list of top colleges for graduate studies in history in 2013.

The mission of the university's doctoral program in history is to train candidates to be teachers and researchers. Therefore, students are required to be teaching assistants during the 5 to 7-year duration of the program. Doctoral candidates choose one major and two minor fields of interest. Students must also complete a dissertation and a foreign language requirement according to their major area of research. A dual Ph.D. program in ancient history is also offered jointly by the history and classics departments.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American History
  • Ancient Studies
  • Asian History
  • Classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • European History
  • Historic Preservation
  • History of Science and Technology
  • Holocaust Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Museum Studies
  • Public History and Archival Administration

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

Harvard University offers a joint Ph.D. in history/Juris Doctor program. U.S. News and World Report ranks Harvard University as the second best national university for 2017. They also ranked Harvard tied for 4th on their list for top colleges for graduate studies in history in 2013.

Harvard's history department offers a Ph.D. program that aims to produce skilled scholars and teachers through intensive coursework with faculty and advisors, as well as teaching fellowships and a dissertation, The program takes about seven years to complete and provides students with access to over 80 libraries, multiple research centers and conferences.

The school's joint Ph.D./JD program is offered through the Harvard Law School.

Top History Ph.D. Programs

Additional universities around the country offer top history Ph.D. programs including the following:

School Name Distinction Location
Indiana University - Bloomington Offers 12 geographic major and minor areas of study, four thematic major and minor areas of study, and four thematic minor fields of study (doctoral students choose a major and minor) Bloomington, IN
New York University The Ph.D. program prepares graduates for research and teaching careers New York, NY
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey The school considers applications for part-time doctoral study New Brunswick, NJ
University of California - Berkeley Offers 15 areas of study Berkeley, CA
University of California - Los Angeles Program is offered on a full-time, daytime basis only Los Angeles, CA
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Students without a master's degree can fulfill the requirements to earn one as part of the Ph.D. program Ann Arbor, MI
University of Texas at Austin Bachelor's degree-holders can apply for admission to the Ph.D. program and bypass the M.A. degree Austin, TX

Students wishing to earn a Ph.D. in history from top institutions in the country have several schools to choose from, including Brown University and Harvard University. Doctoral programs from these top schools are unique and distinguishable in multiple ways, such as the areas of study offered, applicant requirements, and more.

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