History PhD Programs: Prerequisites and Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in History programs can cover many topics, but all have a strong focus on research methodologies and teaching. Learn about the pre-requisites for pursing a doctorate in history, the requirements needed to complete the degree, and potential career options for graduates.

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Essential Information

Doctorates in history generally require around eight years to complete and often include teaching work and international research in addition to coursework. Students are also required to produce a dissertation in order to complete their degree. Most students choose a specialization area, such as a particular person, geographic region or time period.


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

Ph.D. Programs in History

Prospective history doctoral students are required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree to apply, though a master's degree is preferred. Additional prerequisites may include evidence of prior interest in the field, an entrance exam, and letters of recommendation. History Ph.D. coursework varies from program to program, but the most common course topics include:

  • American history
  • Transnational history
  • Ancient history
  • Early Modern and Modern European history
  • Medieval history
  • History of industry and/or technology

Popular Career Options

A graduate of a Ph.D. program in history may go on to careers in academia as a history professor and researcher. Other potential careers include:

  • Archivist
  • Historian
  • Librarian of historical works
  • Nonfiction historical writer
  • Information specialist
  • Researcher

Completing a doctorate degree in history usually requires extensive coursework, research, and teaching in the specialization of your choice. However, graduates have a wide range of potential careers to choose from.

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