PhD Program

COVID-19 Update

The GW History Department will not be admitting an incoming class of Ph.D. students for the 2021-2022 academic year in order to provide additional support to several of our current students whose research has been negatively affected by the pandemic. We will be accepting applications to our M.A. program.


CCAS History students at the undergraduate student research symposium


Whether examining North Korean foreign policy or tracing the Ku Klux Klan’s penetration of 20th century American culture, our doctoral candidates are immersed in the research and writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particular details from the authentic materials in those sources, and the synthesis of those details into a narrative that stands the test of critical examination. Graduates of our program are history professors, high school teachers, government researchers, archivists, museum curators and published authors on topics ranging from Cold War politics to the role of mosquitoes in the Civil War.

Application Deadline: December 15. Please visit the Office of Graduate Admissions for the most up to date information regarding applying.


Funding and Teaching Assistantships

Every Ph.D. student receives full tuition remission and a fellowship to cover living expenses for five years. Learn more about course loads, transfer credits, extended and part-time study options in the Doctoral Student Handbook.

Students gain teaching experience by serving as teaching assistants for undergraduate lecture courses. Several of our graduate students have won Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Awards for their contributions. Visit the Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships to find and apply for positions.


PhD Student Spotlight

Brittany Lewis in front of a sign that reads Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Miss Black America: Pageant as Protest

Brittany Lewis's dissertation on black history in Atlantic City examines how the Miss Black America pageant evolved in the late 1960s as a reaction to the then all-white Miss America competition, a concept Lewis calls “pageant-as-protest.” She played a personal role in the next chapter of Miss Black America pageants: winning the title herself.


Course Requirements

Note: Ph.D. students in history must take one research seminar in their first year and one in their second year. A research seminar is a graduate course that includes a research paper. If it is not clear from the course title, ask the instructor whether it is a research seminar.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs, including the satisfactory completion of the General Examination.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.

All students must take HIST 6005 History and Historians. Some students must pass language exams appropriate to their field and dissertation topic. Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.5 to remain in the program.

Candidates in American history must select two major fields from early America (to 1815), 19th-century America (1815–1900), and 20th-century America (1900–). The minor field will normally be topical (e.g., U.S. social, U.S. diplomatic, historic preservation).

Candidates in imperial and colonial history take HIST 6128 Europe and the World, 1500–Present and HIST 6050 Modernization, Imperialism, Globalization and select two major and one minor field. Fields can include, but are not limited to, such combinations as Europe and the Americas (1500–1900), Europe and Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Europe and Africa, the U.S. and Asia, and China and Japan.

Candidates in Asian history select two major fields from modern China, modern Japan, modern Korea, and modern Southeast Asia. The minor field is chosen in consultation with the advisor.

Candidates concentrating in areas other than those outlined above must select one major and two minor fields. Major fields are early modern Europe, modern Europe, Latin America, modern Middle East, modern Eastern Europe, modern Russia, and military history. The minor fields may be either topical (e.g., European intellectual) or chronological (e.g., Tudor and Stuart England, colonial Latin America).

All candidates may choose to be examined in one minor field other than history if it is relevant to the program of study.