Program Description

The joint M.A./Ph.D. in history is an innovative doctoral program focusing on transnational and comparative history. Students pursue both coursework and research not only at CMU but also at one of our international partner institutions in Germany, Mexico, Scotland or England. A central feature of the joint program is the requirement that students spend a minimum of one academic year at a partner institution. Ordinarily taken in the second year of a student's course of study, this year abroad offers the chance to take coursework in an international setting, work closely with international faculty and colleagues and begin the pursuit of dissertation research.

In keeping with the program's focus, doctoral dissertations produced by our students are required to address transnational and/or comparative history. Recognizing that both "transnational" and "comparative" cover diverse approaches to the past, the department offers advanced training in a wide range of both major and minor fields, including all periods of human history around the globe and a variety of thematic specializations.

Research Opportunities and Assistantships

The program's requirement that students study abroad in the second year represents a unique opportunity to study internationally at an early phase of the program, when students in traditional programs are completing MA or basic requirements on their home campus. Special agreements with partner institutions give our students the chance to complete these basic requirements while also pursuing research in foreign archives and libraries. Admitted students ordinarily receive full funding for the first four years of their program, including the year abroad. Terms spent at CMU normally include a teaching assistantship that includes a tuition waiver.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the joint Ph.D. program requires:

  • a bachelor's degree or equivalent with at least 20 hours of history or related courses;
  • an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or higher;
  • a personal statement (600-900 words) describing general fields of interest and proposed subjects of research, preparation for the subjects proposed, including specific coursework, languages, and other relevant training and professional goals;
  • GRE scores for native English speakers or TOEFL scores for students who speak English as a second language; and
  • three letters of recommendation.

Proficiency in at least one other language besides English is highly encouraged. Demonstrated proficiency in field and research languages will be considered during the evaluation of applications.

Applications are due by January 3 for admission in the fall. Apply online at

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate from the joint Ph.D. program, students must demonstrate a mastery of multiple fields of history by passing oral and written exams, ordinarily after the second year. They also must display competence in one or two research languages other than English, depending on specialty. A dissertation that includes a significant emphasis on transnational and/or comparative history is also required.

Career Outlook - Joint Ph.D. Program

For More Information

Kathleen Donohue
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of History
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