Welcome to Graduate History at Boston College

Boston College’s graduate programs in history attract talented students from around the world. We offer M.A. and Ph.D. programs with training in a number of regional and thematic specialties; British, medieval, U.S. and modern European history have long been strengths of the department. Emerging areas of faculty expertise and graduate student interest include South Asian, East Asian and Latin American history. In addition, the department trains in a range of comparative and transnational areas, with a particular interest in the history of religion, empires and legacies, the Atlantic world, urban history, and transnational history.

The Department of History welcomes a small class of new graduate students each September; our program’s size ensures individualized attention and considerable flexibility in designing one’s plan of study. All Ph.D. students are guaranteed funding through their fifth year in the program, assuming successful completion of requirements. Graduate students gain experience teaching in the two-semester core history sequence, first as teaching assistants and later as teaching fellows in charge of their own classes. Faculty and graduate students come together regularly for conversations about the craft of teaching history.

Historians at Boston College benefit from our location in one of the world’s great centers of academic life. A range of neighboring universities, libraries, and cultural institutions enrich our work. In particular, ongoing collaborations with graduate programs at Boston University, Brandeis University, and Tufts University allow our graduate students to tap into a remarkable network of world-class scholars. Several students and faculty also take part in the Center for European Studies, the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the South Asia Initiative at Harvard, as well as the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies at MIT. Ongoing seminars and lecture series at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts bring together lively communities of scholars interested in a range of subfields and other disciplines. In all, Boston College offers an unparalleled site for pursuing advanced study in history. We hope that you will consider joining our thriving intellectual community.

Graduate

The Boston College History Department’s M.A. and Ph.D. programs attract talented students from the United States and around the world. The M.A. program prepares students for a broad range of careers in public history, education, publishing, and elsewhere. The goal of the Ph.D. program is to produce historians who are both leading scholars and distinguished teachers. While most graduates of the doctoral program become academic historians, the department is committed to assisting students who are interested in positions in university administration, museums, archives, and research institutes.

The department has long had strengths in European and U.S. history, but emerging areas of faculty expertise and graduate student interest include South and East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. The department offers training in a range of comparative and global fields, with a particular interest in the history of religion, global and international history, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic world.

The History Department matriculates a small group of masters’ and doctoral students each September, and the small size of the program ensures individualized attention and flexibility in the plan of study. All Ph.D. students are guaranteed funding through the fifth year of the program, assuming satisfactory progress towards the degree. Doctoral students first gain teaching experience as teaching assistants in the university’s core history sequence and later teach their own core courses as well as classes in their area of expertise.

Historians at Boston College benefit from our location in one of the world’s great centers of academic life. A range of neighboring universities, libraries, and cultural institutions enrich all of our work. Ongoing collaborations with Brandeis, Tufts, and Boston Universities allow our students to tap into a remarkable network of world-class scholars. Several students and faculty also participate in seminars and conferences at the Center for European Studies, the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and the South Asia Center at Harvard, as well as the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies at M.I.T.

Seminars and lectures at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Public Library, and the Museum of Fine Arts bring together lively communities of scholars interested in history as well as neighboring disciplines. Historians at Boston College have access to the collections of the Boston Library Consortium, a network of 19 academic and research libraries in New England. In sum, Boston is unparalleled for pursuing advanced study in history.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Ph.D. graduates should be able to:

  • Develop their own historical questions and hypotheses and carry out a historical research project.
  • Write academic articles and reviews at the scholarly level in informed, intelligible prose.
  • Publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and present papers at conferences.
  • Possess research competency in two languages (three in the case of medievalists).
  • Teach effectively courses in History, both at the introductory and advanced level, in the community college, 4-year college, or university setting.
  • Uphold the professional and ethical standards of the discipline.

Upon completion of the M.A. graduates should be able to:

  • Have broad knowledge of theory and research across two concentrations or subfields.
  • Demonstrate deeper knowledge of one major historical concentration or subfield.
  • Communicate research findings effectively in written and spoken presentations.
  • Possess research competency in one language.
  • Uphold professional and ethical standards in the discipline.

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. degree in history is offered with concentrations in Medieval History, Early Modern European History, Modern European History, American History, and Latin American History. The department also offers coursework in Middle Eastern History and Asian History.

During the first semester of full-time study, doctoral students choose a faculty advisor, who oversees the student's progress in preparing for comprehensive exams and in developing a dissertation topic.

The Ph.D. is a research degree and requires special commitment and skills. While the degree is not granted for routine adherence to certain regulations or the successful completion of a specified number of courses, there are certain basic requirements.

Financial Assistance

Department Funding

Doctoral students are generally admitted with financial aid in the form of research assistantships. These awards include a competitive stipend and a full-tuition scholarship toward all courses related to the program. Doctoral students generally serve as teaching fellows after the first year. Funding is renewable for up to five years contingent on satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

Ph.D. candidates are expected to pursue the degree on a full-time basis and to maintain satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements.

Program taught in:
  • English
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Last updated August 22, 2019
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