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Northwestern University Course/Program Name
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National :01 Dec 
International :01 Dec 

PhD History

 Course Level
Full Time

5 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

4052 USD
4052 USD

Application fee

International 95 USD
National 95 USD
Department of History
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)90
TOEFL-PBT (min)577
GRE (avg)313

World University Ranking

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About this course

Northwestern's Ph.D. program in history owes its national reputation to an outstanding faculty of scholar-teachers, a flexible and well articulated course of study, and a record of recruiting, training, and placing diverse and talented graduate students.

The program of study for the Ph.D. seeks to prepare students for distinguished careers as teachers and scholars. It is therefore designed to help students achieve a comprehensive grasp of particular historical fields and processes; develop critical skills in respect to sources, texts, genres, theory, and methods of inquiry; and carry out original research that makes a significant contribution to historical study.

Students learn more than just fields within history; they become acquainted with major trends in the discipline as a whole and with the possible relevance to historical scholarship of both classical social theory and work currently being done in other social scientific and humanistic disciplines. The department encourages students to think about history in conceptually sophisticated ways and to acquire a frame of reference for their research based on grounding in geographical and cross-disciplinary fields outside of their specializations. Thus, in addition to courses within each field of specialization, the department's offerings include seminars that provide a common experience of history as an open ended discipline with a wide range of conceptual and methodological possibilities.

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Eligibility Criteria

The Graduate School has established English language requirements for foreign applicants. In 2011 the minimum TOEFL scores for most foreign students are 90 for the internet-based test, 233 for the computer-based test, and 577 for the paper-based test.

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Course Modules

Students construct their curricula, in consultation with their advisers, from the following types of courses offered by the Department of History:

405 Seminars in Historical Analysis: A varying menu of courses in methodology and/or theory. At least two seminars are offered every year.

410 (American history), 430 (European history), or 450 (African history): General Field Seminars designed to familiarize students in each division of the graduate curriculum with pivotal issues, interpretations, controversies, research techniques, and works in the field. Three seminars are offered in American history and at least one in European and one in African history every year.

420s (American history), 440s (European history), 460s (African history) or 480s (other): Topical Seminars. A variety of topical seminars are offered every quarter as listed in the Graduate School Bulletin ("The Literature of... "Nationalism", "Comparative Industrialization", etc. ). A variety of topical seminars are offered every quarter.
490/99 Directed Reading: Tutorials, taken on a graded (499) or ungraded (490) basis, arranged between individual students and faculty for the study of specific areas and topics; tutorials sometimes include attendance at advanced undergraduate course lectures. Up to two 490s may consist of service in teaching assistantships.

570 1st year Research Seminar: A two-quarter course in which all first-year students meet together with a single supervising faculty member, but conduct individual research projects based on primary sources under the codirection of another professor. Offered annually, the 570 seminar is a key component of the first-year program.

580 Directed Research in History: Directed Research in the second year, conducted over two quarters on a tutorial basis with a selected supervisor. Usually but not necessarily in a student's field of specialization, the tutorial ideally serves as the entree to work on a dissertation.

Courses offered in the History Department include:
405: Seminars in Historical Analysis

  • Approaches to Social and Economic History
  • Atlantic History
  • Colonialism and Imperialism in the Modern World
  • The Comparative History of the Modern Global City
  • Cultural History
  • Doing Business History
  • Gender and Empire
  • The Historical Study of Religion
  • History of Science
  • History of Technology and Material Culture
  • History Without Documents
  • Issues and Concepts in Women’s and Gender History
  • Legal Sources in Social History
  • Marxism
  • The Marxist Tradition in Historical Writing
  • Microhistory
  • Nationalism and the Subaltern Project
  • Paradigms in History
  • The Practice of Oral History
  • Protest without Politics in Agrarian Societies
  • Remembrance and Commemoration as Historical Problems
  • Roots of Race Thinking
  • Text and Context: Interpretation of Documentary Source
  • Theories of Nationalism
  • Sex in the Early Modern World

The History of Africa

  • African Field Seminar
  • African Cultural History
  • African Historiography
  • Constituting the Archive for African History
  • Decolonization, African Independence, and the Postcolony
  • East Africa
  • Ethnicity and Nationalism in East and Southern Africa
  • Health and Healing in African History
  • Islam in Africa
  • Slavery in African History

The History of Asia and the Middle East

  • Middle East Field Seminar
  • Japanese History Field Seminar
  • Chinese History Field Seminar
  • Asia as Point of Departure: Offsetting the West
  • Sources in Tokugawa History
  • Tokugawa and Meiji History
  • China in the Early Modern World
  • Society and Culture in Late Imperial China
  • Systems of Gender in late Imperial and Modern China
  • Directed Readings: Republican China
  • Directed Readings: People's Republic of China
  • Directed Readings: The Chinese Diaspora
  • Women and Chinese Politics
  • Chinese Urban History
  • Chinese Legal Culture
  • Nationalism and Revolution in 20th c. China  
  • Post-Colonial Histories of East and South Asia

The History of Europe

  • Medieval European Field Seminar
  • Early Modern European Field Seminar
  • Modern European Field Seminar
  • Medieval Marriage
  • Europe in the High and Later Middle Ages
  • Medieval Women
  • Medieval Popular Religion
  • Renaissance Europe
  • Italian Renaissance
  • European Reformation and Counter-Reformation
  • The English Revolution
  • Religion in England c.1500-1642
  • Elizabethan Culture
  • Spain 1700-1850: From Empire to Nation
  • Eighteenth-Century Britain: Culture and Politics
  • The French Revolution: Classic Approaches, New Debates
  • Readings in Nineteenth-Century Europe
  • France in the Twentieth Century
  • East European Jewish Historiography
  • Messianic Trends in Judaism
  • Jewish-Islamic Cultural Imagination
  • Habsburg Central Europe
  • The Balkans
  • Communist East Europe
  • Germany from Unification to Collapse, 1861-1945
  • Directed Readings in German History
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in 20th Century Europe
  • Hitler and Stalin
  • Readings in Russian History
  • The Historiography of the Soviet Union

The History of Latin America

  • Latin American Field Seminar
  • Poverty in the Latin American City
  • Comparative Race Relations

The History of the United States

  • General Field Seminar in American History
  • Early American History
  • Seventeenth-Century England and America
  • American Revolution
  • Legal and Constitutional History of the United States
  • Comparative Slavery and Emancipation
  • Liberalism and American Political Culture: The 19th Century
  • Race and Nationhood in the 19th century US
  • State and Society in Modern America
  • Social Movements in the U.S
  • Contemporary America
  • African American History
  • American Intellectual and Cultural History
  • Global America
  • Sexuality in America
  • US Urbanization in a World Context

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How to Apply

Required Application Materials

  • Application Form (online)
  • Application Fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Two (max. three) Letters of Recommendation
  • Original Transcripts from all College/University Work
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores for Foreign Applicants
  • Writing Sample (approx. 15-35 pp.

Check further details on University website

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