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History, M.A., Ph.D.

Saint Louis University graduate programs in history familiarize you with the richness of the thought, culture, and society of the past. By studying the history of civilization, you’ll become acquainted with all fields in the humanities, as well as with developments in other disciplines such as law, medicine, business and technology.

About the Program

Master's students choose a specialized area of study from the following concentrations:

Doctoral candidates can choose to specialize in medieval European, early modern European and American history.

A M.A. to Ph.D. option is available. Students with a B.A. seeking admission directly to the Ph.D. program will be considered for the combined M.A./Ph.D. program.

Program Highlights

SLU’s graduate programs in history feature considerable intellectual depth in the three Ph.D. fields of medieval Europe, early modern Europe, and U.S. history. Faculty are important scholars in their fields and have strong publication records with reputable presses, serving as consultants, writing and speaking about matters of public interest, and offering leadership in academic organizations. Faculty have won grants to support research and teaching from a number of institutions, including the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, the Humboldt Stiftung, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Institute for International Education (Fulbright), the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the School for Advanced Research.

The graduate programs also benefit immensely from the rich vein of resources available to M.A. and Ph.D. students at the university and in the St. Louis area. Pius XII Memorial Library houses the Vatican Film Library on microfilm and an extensive rare book collection with works from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Adjacent to campus, the Jesuit Archives and Research Center will soon hold all of the archival materials from all Jesuit provinces in the United States except for the Maryland Province. Across the city, the Mercantile Library, the Missouri Historical Society, and the Archives of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart (to name but one of the many archives of the Roman Catholic orders headquartered in St. Louis.) offer wonderful research opportunities.

The commitment of the faculty to excellence in graduate education and the abundant research collections have contributed to a remarkable degree of professionalization among SLU  graduate students in history. They regularly present papers and organize sessions at conferences, participate in NEH Summer Institutes, publish peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and take jobs in colleges and universities across the United States, in the U.S. government, and in private corporations.

Master's Curriculum and Program Details

The Master of Arts program in history requires 30 hours of coursework. Twelve hours of the coursework must be in your major field. As part of the 30 hours of coursework, you are required to take “HIST 5000,” a three-hour introductory course, and at least one research seminar. You may take other introductory courses with the approval of your adviser. A maximum of six credit hours may be taken in academic fields other than history.

A two-hour written examination in the major field is required of all M.A. students upon completion of the 30 hours of coursework. Six hours of the total coursework may be in the form of a thesis directed by a member of the Department of History. You will be permitted to take no more than six hours advanced undergraduate courses as part of your overall program.

Ph.D. Curriculum and Program Details

For the Ph.D. in history, 27 hours of coursework beyond the M.A. are required, or 36 hours if pursuing the combined M.A./Ph.D. A minimum of 12 hours in the primary field and six hours in the secondary field are required.

At least one research seminar must be taken in both the major and minor fields. The remaining hours are flexible. None of the doctoral courses may be at the undergraduate level and no more than six hours may be taken in a related department without the permission of the director of graduate studies.

Following the completion of your coursework, you must complete and pass a comprehensive examination which has both written and oral components.

The written examination consists of two four-hour written examinations, one each in the major and minor fields. The examinations are based on the texts on the preparatory reading list and selected by you from a set of choices developed by the examiners. The oral examination committee is comprised of the three faculty members on your dissertation committee and two other faculty agreed upon by you and your adviser in consultation with the graduate director and the department chair. The oral examination lasts two hours and is taken the week following the written examinations. The examination committee will ask you about your written examination, as well as texts on the preparatory reading list.

Following successful completion of the oral examination, you will meet with your adviser and the chair of the history department to discuss and give final approval to the prospectus. You will then file an approved copy of the dissertation prospectus with the College of Arts and Sciences and proceed to write the dissertation. Twelve credit hours are given for the writing of the dissertation. Completed dissertations are assessed by the committee and are formally accepted after a public defense.


We expect that the majority of our students at doctoral level will themselves become professional historians and teach at the college level. It is the case, however, that it benefits our society if well-trained historians also contribute to other walks of life. The wide-ranging skills that a student learns in the course of doing a master’s or doctoral degree in history can be used not only in teaching and archival work but in government, foreign affairs, business, the law, the arts and a host of other professions. Many trained historians have enriched our society and increased its humanity by contributing to the common good in a variety of ways. So while our prime concern is to train historians, we are also mindful of making students aware of the wide range of opportunities their degree brings to them and others.

Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
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Scholarships and Financial Aid

The department offers substantial funding opportunities for the most competitive students on the M.A./Ph.D. or Ph.D. tracks. Those applicants awarded funding serve as graduate assistants, with both teaching and research responsibilities, renewable annually for up to five years. The assistantships carry a stipend plus benefits. In most cases, students hold a teaching fellowship in the following year, bringing the total period of funding to six years.

Applicant Criteria

Standardized test scores are considered as well as GPA and English proficiency (if applicable). Each item in the application package is required for an applicant to be reviewed.

For the M.A. program, the ordinary prerequisite is a B.A. in history (or at least 18 hours of successful work in upper-division courses in history), though students from other fields with strong backgrounds in history will also receive consideration. Applicants with different majors who possess strong backgrounds in history will be considered.

Language Requirements

Proof of competency in one foreign language is required through a written examination administered by the department or successful completion of graduate translation courses.

Doctoral students in medieval and early modern European history are required to display reading proficiency in Latin as well as one additional foreign language. All other Ph.D. students must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages. For doctoral students in U.S. history, approved courses in research methods may replace the second language.

You’ll need the following items to apply:

Application Procedures

An official transcript of your undergraduate record and, for applicants to the Ph.D. program, graduate record.
Recent GRE General Test scores (the GRE Subject Test is not required). Your score needs to be received by the application dates listed below.
A current resume
Three letters of recommendation assessing your promise in graduate studies.
A letter of intent describing your professional and intellectual goals, and your interest in graduate studies. Please ensure that your statement includes the following three points: the specific field of historical study that are you interested in; how you would like to contribute to existing research and criticism in your area of interest; and the SLU faculty members you are looking to work with. While your plans may well change as a result of further study, your statement will help us to assess your grasp of the field, and your ability to describe your ideas coherently and compellingly.
A fifteen to twenty page writing sample which demonstrates competence in historical writing and analysis, and which may be an excerpt from a longer piece.

Completed applications with all materials for admission and financial aid must be received by January 15. We do not admit students to begin in the Spring semester or the Summer session.

Important! Please do not forward any application materials directly to the History Department. All application materials must be submitted through Graduate Education.

For application forms and application information, contact:
Saint Louis University
Graduate Admission
One North Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63103
Website: Graduate Admission
Phone: (314) 977-2500 or 1-800-SLU-FOR-U

For further information on the Department of History, contact:
Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History
Saint Louis University
3800 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108
Phone: 314-977-2910

Requirements for International Students

Application and Assistantship Deadline

Submit your application for the following fall semester by Jan. 15.

Review Process

A standing graduate applicant review committee meets just after the expiration of the application deadline. The committee reviews each item of every complete application. The committee makes its applicant selections by the beginning of March.


Check out the FAQs below. Still have questions? Send them to the Director of Graduate Studies,Dr. Damian Smith.

What is the deadline for submitting applications to the program?

For those who wish to be considered for funding, the application deadline is Jan. 15. Applicants are encouraged, however, to submit earlier if possible. Remember that it takes time for transcripts and reference letters to arrive from other universities.

Must I major in history to be admitted into the program?

No. A degree in history is certainly useful, but it is not a requirement. Our students come from a great variety of backgrounds and bring many different talents to the program.

What is the size of your graduate program?

At present we have 50 students at all levels of progress.

Where do your graduate students come from?
From across the country, as well as overseas. Recently admitted students have come from such places as Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, the University of London and Duke University. But applications are decided on the basis of merit, not on the name of the school that you come from.
Do your graduate students get good jobs?
Yes. We have a very good placement record with our recent Ph.D.s. For a list of some of our most recent graduate students to accept academic positions, click here.
When are funding decisions made?
At the same time as admissions decisions, which means mostly in February and March. Admitted students who do not receive funding immediately are placed on a waiting list.
Is there Ph.D. funding available beyond the fifth year of study?
Yes, most students have the opportunity of a sixth year of funding through a college dissertation fellowship, a dean’s teaching assistantship, or a departmental pre-doctoral teaching assistantship.
Can I visit your campus?
Yes, of course. In order to make your visit as profitable and informative as possible, we suggest that you contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Damian Smith, well ahead of your arrival. He can arrange a time to meet with you to answer any questions you might have about the program. He can also schedule an appointment for you with a faculty member in your desired field. In addition, he will arrange for a current history graduate student to meet you and provide a tour of the campus.


U.S. News & World Report

Saint Louis University’s Ph.D. in history is ranked as one of the top 100 doctoral history programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.