Department of History

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the major strengths of your program?

The Department of History is committed to training area specialists with a global perspective. Our students learn how to research, interpret and teach the histories and historiographies of particular places from comparative, cross-cultural, transnational and global perspectives. For more details about thematic and regional strengths, please explore the graduate section of our departmental website as well as sites of individual faculty.

Do you offer a Master’s Degree?

Our department does not offer a terminal Master’s program. We only accept students who aim for a PhD, regardless of whether they enter the program with a BA or an MA. Students who enter the program with a BA or an MA in a discipline other than History will earn a Master’s degree (MA in History) on the way to the PhD.

Do I need a Master’s Degree to apply to your program?

No, we consider applicants with either a BA or an MA.

I already have a Master’s Degree. Can this transfer towards the PhD?

The Graduate Committee determines this after acceptance into our program. Generally speaking, if the Master’s is not in History, we can only accept 6 credits. If the Master is in History, we can accept 18-24 credits.

There is no guarantee that we can transfer earned credits towards a PhD degree. We require that you submit a petition to the graduate committee, stating precisely toward which requirements previous work is to be applied, with a detailed description (syllabi, reading lists, and thesis) of the relevant earlier work to aid the graduate committee in its decision. Note that transfer credit will not be accepted for courses in which a letter grade of B or lower has been received; grades and quality points are not recorded for credits accepted by the transfer. Please also note that this process happens after you are accepted.

Generally speaking, if you have your previous MA degree in history and you have completed an independent thesis we tend to accept 18-24 credits from that degree. If you have a degree outside history, accepting your Master's thesis is at the discretion of the committee. If they accept you are eligible for a maximum transfer of 24 credits. If they deny your thesis you will be required to pursue an MA here at Pitt and are only eligible for a 6-credit transfer. Typically, if your MA is not in history we do not accept you MA thesis and require you to pursue the MA at Pitt.

Can I apply with a degree other than History?

Yes, you can apply with a degree other than history.

How important are foreign language skills?

Given the profile of our graduate program with its focus on transnational, transcontinental, and world history, we consider foreign language skills and international experience a great advantage for incoming students. While students can improve their foreign language skills and learn one other language while they are in the program, reading skills in the language most relevant to the field of your interest is a prerequisite for admission to the program.

I would like to work with a specific professor. Should I contact this person in advance?

We highly recommend that students interested in our graduate program reach out to potential advisors before applying. Our faculty will let you know right away whether or not they accept new students, and if they see a potential fit between your and their research interests. You are also free to visit campus if you wish and talk with these faculty members in person.

How long does it typically take to complete the program?

Most students finish the program in 5-7 years.

What kind of funding is available for students in your program?

The department offers funding to most of its graduate students through a mix of teaching assistantships, teaching fellowships, departmental fellowships, and research assistantships. If you are accepted with funding, the University waives tuition fees and offers health benefits or provision for benefits. Students can apply for a variety of non-teaching fellowships provided by the University of Pittsburgh or national and international organizations. In addition to the teaching and non-teaching fellowships, we offer summer research funding to our students on a competitive basis, which allows students to conduct archival research within the US or abroad. The funding the University of Pittsburgh provides to graduate students is competitive and covers the costs of a graduate student living in Pittsburgh.

What is a PhD in History good for, and what kind of jobs do students receive after graduation?

A PhD program in History is not a professional school that trains and qualifies students for a particular profession. Instead, graduate training in History provides advanced analytical and communication skills, broad knowledge about society, politics and culture, as well as a high level of intercultural awareness. The training students receive in our graduate program will serve them well on a variety of career tracks. A fair amount of our graduates choose teaching careers at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. Others find employment in university administration, in the field of public history and education outside the university, or work for the government and non-governmental organizations. A PhD in History offers many options. For more information about the variety of career possibilities, please visit the website of the American Historical Association.

Questions regarding the application process: When is your application deadline?

The application deadline for prospective students is January 15th. 

Does the University of Pittsburgh offer an application fee waiver?

In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted.  All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST.  To be considered for a fee waiver, Please complete the following fee waiver survey for review:

Can I apply for admission in the spring term?

No, as our department only offers admission in the fall term

Can I mail my application materials to your office?

You need to apply through the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences online application system. However, if you have trouble uploading large files (transcripts) or if you need to send additional material, you can mail your material to:

Graduate Administrator
Department of History
University of Pittsburgh
3702 Wesley Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

How many students apply and how many are admitted each year?

Typically, 50-60 students apply every year to our graduate program. 5-7 new students join the program per year.

Are you interested in international students?

We strongly encourage international students to apply. We are looking for the most promising applicants, regardless of where they come from or where they completed their degrees.

What is your school code for submitting TOEFL Scores?

The code for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927.

Where can I get more information?

If you have specific questions about the program or the application process, please contact:

Paris Yamamoto
Graduate Administrator


Niklas Frykman
Director of Graduate Studies