Admission into the graduate program is highly competitive. The department typically enrolls approximately 5 new graduate students a year and has around 30 active MA and PhD students at any one time.

Graduate applicants should:

  • Complete and submit the standard graduate application form along with the application fee.  The online portal for graduate admissions is here. The application form should clearly indicate the degree program and concentration for which you are applying.
  • Submit a personal statement, which should be a short (roughly two pages) explanation of the student’s academic interests, why the student hopes to pursue these at CUA, and, for PhD applicants, an indication of possible areas of doctoral research
  • Arrange for an official transcript of undergraduate grades (and graduate grades, if any) to be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. It is not necessary for an applicant to have been a History major at the undergraduate level, but ordinarily the Department would expect an applicant to demonstrate significant preparation in History.
  • Take the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination if applying to the PhD program. The History Department does not require the History examination. Scores should be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. GRE scores are not required of MA applicants.
  • Arrange for the forwarding of at least three letters of recommendation—preferably by professors from the applicant’s previous academic program—attesting to the applicant’s ability to perform graduate-level work.
  • Send a sample of writing, which should be a research paper on an academic subject (preferably History). The writing sample for a PhD applicant should be either a seminar paper incorporating original, primary-source-based research, or else an MA thesis. The writing sample should generally be on the lines of 15–25 pages, double spaced.
  • Students who are currently in the MA program and wish to apply for admission to the PhD program should use the online application form available here.

All these materials should be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions, through the University’s online admissions portal:

Admission decisions are made by an Admissions Committee, reconstituted each year, including the Director of Graduate Studies, ex officio, and two other members of the full-time faculty representing different fields. The Admissions Committee will review all files; PhD applications are also carefully read by the intended supervisor of the proposed dissertation. The Committee, drawing on the feedback from other faculty, will present recommendations for admission to the Department as a whole, which will vote on graduate admissions and financial aid offers.

Although applications will be accepted at any time throughout the year, most applicants apply for entry in the fall semester (and applicants should note that scholarships are granted only upon fall entry). In order to receive full consideration for financial aid, applications must be received by February 1.

PhD Applicants:

Although the History Department does not require that students hold an MA prior to admission to the PhD program, please be aware that successful PhD applicants are expected to demonstrate especially high levels of aptitude and preparation. PhD applicants are urged to contact either the Director of Graduate Studies and/or faculty in their proposed area of study to discuss the suitability of their interests.

Medieval History Applicants:

Prior study of Latin is highly desirable for students applying in medieval History. Students with less experience of Latin are very strongly encouraged to take a summer course before they begin study at CUA. Our Department of Greek and Latin offers numerous, rigorous courses in Latin (please see their website for details). Insistence on extensive training in Latin, including medieval Latin, is one of the hallmarks of our program.

Joint Degree Applicants:

Applicants to the joint MA program with Library Sciences or Secondary Education submit a single application that must be approved for admission by both departments concerned. Applicants for the joint MA/JD submit separate applications to the Columbus School of Law and the Department of History. The application to History is usually submitted after matriculation at the Law School.

Graduate Financial Aid

All applicants for graduate study in History are automatically considered for funding, provided the application is received by the February 1 deadline. No separate application is necessary. The Department will ordinarily admit a Ph.D. applicant only when it is able to offer that applicant a funding package, usually a combination of scholarships for tuition, teaching assistantships and stipends. The Department admits M.A. applicants with or without funding, and is able to offer tuition scholarships only to some M.A. applicants. Students in the joint M.A./M.S.L.I.S. program are eligible for additional funding from the Department of Library and Information Sciences and are encouraged to consult them directly. Do note some of the University-wide awards require high GRE scores. CUA is an equal opportunity educational institution.

Recipients of funding packages should note that the first paycheck of the academic year is issued in late September, and should plan accordingly.

In most circumstances, CUA requires full-time students to carry a health insurance policy. Students may either purchase the CUA plan or provide proof of coverage by another one. Note that graduate students enrolled at the full-time course credit load will be auto-enrolled in and charged for the CUA plan every semester unless they submit an insurance waiver. Further information is available at:

Thanks to a generous gift from alumnus Jeremy Bonner (PhD, 2001), the Department of History distributes an annual Gerald Bonner Graduate Research Award. The award is given to a doctoral candidate with ABD standing. Each year, the award in the amount of $250 will be given to a doctoral student to enable him/her to pursue dissertation research outside the DC area. Interested students should submit an application to the Director of Graduate Studies via email by March 1. Grants will be awarded in the spring for use that summer. The granting of the award will be determined by a committee consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies, and two other members of the faculty. The application should consist of a project description, not to exceed one single-spaced page, explaining the project, the specific research to be undertaken, and how the money in question will be spent. This award honors the donor’s late father, Gerald Bonner, Distinguished Professor of Early Christian Studies at CUA from 1990–1994.

In addition to some smaller funds, the Department’s Angelton endowment supports a PhD student in medieval history, typically on a three year cycle. Medievalists are automatically considered for this award upon application.

Teachers at Catholic Schools

Waivers of one half of the student’s tuition are available to full-time teachers, administrators, librarians and guidance counselors employed by a Catholic elementary or secondary school. In order to take advantage of this program, please have your employer provide a letter certifying your full-time employment status on school letterhead to the Office of Enrollment Services ( and to the Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. A copy should also be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies for your file.