Applications for the Doctoral Program in History at the University of Southern California are due by December 1st prior to the Fall term in which you wish to enter the program.  There is no spring admission.

Your application to the History Program must include:

  • Application for Admission
  • Letters of Recommendation (at least 3)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing Sample
  • Official Transcript
  • [in the case of non-native speakers of English] TOEFL scores or other evidence of English proficiency

Detailed Admissions Checklist:

1. Completed application for admission:  This must be completed online and submitted by December 1. The application is available through the Graduate Admission Office. This application requires a non-refundable application fee, unless the applicant is a current USC student or a graduate of USC. Students on full financial aid may also request a waiver in collaboration with the financial aid office of their home institution.

2. Letters of recommendation:  Letters of recommendation should come from faculty with whom you have worked closely and who can speak to the quality and promise of your work.  At least three letters of recommendation must be submitted online by the recommenders.  Be sure that all letters are uploaded by December 1. Please do not send letters directly to the Department of History.

3. Personal Statement: In a brief statement (of no more than three pages), please set out your proposed areas of study and your ultimate professional goals.  Please note the specific time periods, countries/regions, subjects, or topics that interest you, and discuss your interest in them. Tell us what historical questions you find most pressing or intriguing and why. We don’t expect you to know your dissertation topic yet; we do expect you to know how to engage historical questions and how some members of the profession have already engaged them. If you have done prior graduate work—whether in history or some other field—describe your experiences in that program, providing information on your major and minor areas of interest, thesis (if you wrote one), and the like. Please also provide information about your language skills, especially as relevant to your studies.  We would also like to hear about prior research and/or teaching experiences.

4. Writing Sample:  Please submit an example of your best written work in history or a related field. The admissions committee looks especially for good use of original source material, strong, original historical interpretation and rich historiographic analysis.  An honors or M.A. thesis would be an ideal writing sample.  Other options include undergraduate essays, seminar papers, and published work in history or an allied discipline.

5. Official transcripts of all prior college and university work. Only one official copy of each is required. Please ask that these transcripts be sent directly to the USC Office of Graduate Admissions to arrive by December 1.

** Please note that GRE scores are no longer required for application for admission to the program and will not be considered in the application process. **

Advice for Applicants:

If you have questions about the History Graduate Program or need additional information, please feel free to contact individual History faculty members with whom you might like to study.

You may also direct specific questions to Professor Brett Sheehan, Director of Graduate Studies and Jennifer Hernandez, Graduate Advisor.

In addition to the information provided below, the USC Office of Graduate Admissions offers useful information for applicants.

Financial Aid:

Every entering student is funded for a minimum of five years of study through a combination of fellowships and graduate assistantships, contingent on satisfactory progress toward degree.

Please note that there is no separate application necessary for either fellowship consideration or assistantship consideration: your application for admission is ipso facto an application for fellowship and assistantship aid.

For more information about financial aid, as well as about research funding, summer funding, and employment opportunities, check our Financial Aid and Funding Resources page.

International Students:

The Department of History has accepted international students for graduate work since the 1920s, and we recently have included in our graduate program students from India, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Turkey, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and The Netherlands. Though international students are ineligible for need-based financial aid, they are eligible for both competitive fellowships and teaching assistantships.

USC has many years of experience with students from overseas seeking graduate degrees; indeed, it now has the largest enrollment of international students of any institution of higher education in the western United States. It has many resources designed specifically for international students, including special admissions information on international admissions; an Office of International Services; a variety of university-sponsored international student groups; intensive and specialized English language training courses for international students needing advanced study in English reading, writing, listening, or speaking; and a specialized training program for international teaching assistants.