The Ph.D. program trains students to become professional historians, mentoring them as they produce scholarship on a carefully defined topic, equipping them with skills in research, analysis, and communication, and building intellectual flexibility and confidence.

The focus of the Ph.D. is more sharply defined than the broader areas of coverage of the M.A. program. Each Ph.D. student works individually with faculty to define a major and two minor fields of study during coursework (upon which eventual comprehensive examinations are based), and to build upon these fields to craft a dissertation topic.  Ph.D. students also have the opportunity to gain experience in teaching at the college level on and off the Catholic University campus.

The department of history's Ph.D. fields are:

  • medieval European history
  • early modern and modern European history
  • colonial-era and post-revolutionary American history

NOTE: The department is currently considering Ph.D. applications only in the field of medieval European history.

The department encourages interdisciplinary work, including minor fields drawing upon other departments and programs at the university.

The majority of students who have completed the Ph.D. in the department in recent years have gone on to faculty positions at colleges or universities, administrative positions at secondary or postsecondary institutions, and research-related positions in the federal government.

The Ph.D. requirements include

  • a minimum of 54 credit-hours of coursework, or 18 courses (up to 24 graduate-level credit-hours may be transferred from another university)
  • of these courses one must be History 601 (Historical Analysis and Methodology), four must be research seminars (800-level courses or History 793, Directed Research), and the remainder are colloquia or readings courses
  • proficiency in two foreign languages (except for students in medieval history, who must demonstrate proficiency in three foreign languages, of which one must be Latin)
  • a comprehensive examination lasting four hours per day on three consecutive days, after or near completion of coursework
  • completion of a dissertation, including developing a formal proposal, research and writing, and an oral defense of the completed dissertation

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.

The initial point of advising is the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Stephen West, to whom prospective students should address questions.  In evaluating applications to the Ph.D. program, the department seeks to ensure that the specific research interests of a prospective student align closely with departmental faculty’s areas of expertise.  Prospective Ph.D. students should feel free to contact any faculty in the department whose historical focus matches prospective interests.  Once in the program, students’ advising transitions to their respective major professors.

For full details of all aspects of the degree and its requirements, consult the History Department Graduate Handbook.