Grad School & Ph.D. Programs

Considering Graduate School or a Ph.D. in History?

If you are considering a Ph.D. doctoral program in History, check out this webpage from the American Historical Association:
It has information on all Ph.D. programs in the U.S., as well as advice and guidelines for how to apply to graduate school.

Make sure to check out the Readings section for some excellent articles on how to apply to and survive graduate school. These include: “The Trials and Tribulations of Applying to Graduate School” by John King and Andrew McMichael; “With Their Eyes Wide Open: Guides to Graduate School and Beyond” by Mary Ann Fitzwilson, and "’Dumb Enough to Want to Get a History PhD’: Views from the Trenches of Graduate Education” by Lillian Guerra.

If you are seriously planning to pursue a Ph.D., don’t forget to take a foreign language at WSU. Most Ph.D. programs have a foreign-language requirement.

Remember, choosing and applying to a Ph.D. program is a very different process than applying to college. You must thoroughly research different programs and become familiar with their specific faculty and areas of specialization. In your application essay, do NOT write about how much you respect, for example, Harvard University or how wonderful you think Harvard is in general or how much you would like to go there. Instead, focus on Harvard’s History Program, their faculty, and areas of specialization.

Become a member of the American Historical Association. Their student membership rates are very reasonable. The AHA journal and Perspectives magazine (both free to members) offer invaluable sources of information for those entering the profession. Perspectives in particular has very relevant articles on the history job market, graduate schools, and job listings.

According to its mission statement, the AHA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1884 for the “promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts, and the dissemination of historical research. It is the largest historical society in the U.S. The AHA serves more than 14,000 history professionals, representing every historical period and geographical area.” (It’s not just about American history!).

“AHA members include K –12 teachers, college professors, graduate students, historians in museums, historical organizations, libraries and archives, government and business, as well as independent historians. The AHA provides leadership and advocacy for the profession, fights to ensure academic freedom, monitors professional standards, spearheads essential research in the field, and provides resources and services to help its members succeed.”

Some other helpful books include:

Becoming a Historian: A Survival Manual by Melanie Gustafson. This book has been described as the “first stop” for those considering a career in history. Gustafson discusses finding and applying to graduate programs, funding, completing the training process, and the all-important job search. Available from the American Historical Association. $8 non-members; $6 members. Write to:  or  from

The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Bender, Philip M. Katz, Colin Palmer, and the Committee on Graduate Education of the American Historical Association. Available from

Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. by Robert Peters. Available from

The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure by John A. Goldsmith, John Komlos, and Penny Schine Gold. Available from

Remember that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different historical organizations in the U.S. (ex. business history, military history, Latin American History, New England History, European History, Women’s History, African-American History, Sports History, Civil War History, Peace Historical Society, etc.) If you don’t like the AHA, find a historical organization that you do enjoy. It’s also important to attend historical conferences in order to stay current on the latest research and engage in on-going education!

AHA Directory of 106 Affiliated Historical Societies: This list gives you an idea of how huge the field of history is and how many specialized historical associations exist! For links to each site, go to

Agricultural History Society (AHS)
Air Force Historical Foundation (AFHF)

Alcohol and Drugs History Society (ADHS)

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)

American Association for the History of Medicine, Inc. (AAHM)

American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA)

American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS)

American Culture Association (ACA)

American Italian Historical Association (AIHA)

American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS)

American Journalism Historians' Association (AJHA)

 American Society for Environmental History (ASEH)
American Society for Legal History (ASLH)

American Society of Church History (ASCH)

American Studies Association (ASA)

Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH)

Committee on Lesbian and Gay History (CLGH)

Conference Group for Central European History (CGCEH)

Conference on Asian History (CAH)

Conference on Faith and History (CFH)

Conference on Latin American History (CLAH)

Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH)

Czechoslovak Studies Association (CSA)

Economic History Association (EHA)

Forum for European Expansion and Global Interaction (FEEGI)

French Colonial Historical Society (FCHS)

German Historical Institute (GHI)

Historians Film Committee (HFC)

Historians of American Communism (HOAC)

Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China (HSTCC)

History of Science Society (HSS)

Hungarian Studies Association (HSA)

Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS)

MARHO: The Radical Historians' Organization (MARHO)

Medieval Academy of America (MAA)

Mormon History Association (MHA)

National Association for Ethnic Studies (NAES)

National Council for History Education, Inc. (NCHE)

National Council on Public History (NCPH)

New England Historical Association (NEHA)

North American Society for Sport History (NASSH)

Oral History Association (OHA)

Organization of American Historians (OAH)

Organization of History Teachers (OHT)

Peace History Society (PHS)

Polish American Historical Association (PAHA)

Popular Culture Association (PCA)

Public Works Historical Society (PWHS)

Renaissance Society of America (RSA)

Social Science History Association (SSHA)

Society for Armenian Studies (SAS)

Society for French Historical Studies (SFHS)

Society for German-American Studies (SGAS)

Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)

Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR)

Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE)

Society for History Education (SHE)

Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG)

Society for Italian Historical Studies (SIHS)

Society for Military History (SMH)

Society for Reformation Research (SRR)

Society for Romanian Studies (SRS)

Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies (SSPHS)

Society for the History of Discoveries (SHD)

Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)

Society for the Study of Early Modern Women (EMW)

Society of American Historians (SAH)

Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)

Society of Automotive Historians (SAH)

Southern Historical Association (SHA)

Study Group on International Labor and Working-Class History (SGILWH)

Supreme Court Historical Society (SCHS)

Swiss American Historical Society (SAHS)

Ukrainian Historical Association (UHA)

United States Commission on Military History (USCMH)

Urban History Association (UHA)

Victorian Society in America (VSA)

Western Association of Women Historians (WAWH)

Western History Association (WHA)

World History Association (WHA)

World War Two Studies Association (WW2SA)