Admissions FAQ

If you are thinking of applying to a graduate program in the Department of History, read this FAQ before contacting us as many of the questions you have in mind will likely be addressed here. Of course, do contact us if your question about applying is not addressed on our website or on the GSAS Application Resource Center website at

For all applicants:

Q: Is there any information you can mail to me that is not online?

A: In the interests of going green and making information readily available, we have placed all information about applying to our graduate programs and about the Department of History online. We do not have any material to send in the mail. You will find information about the Department on our website and information about applying to the Graduate School of Arts and Science by visiting

Q: What are the minimum GRE scores needed to apply?

A: The GRE general test is required for admission, but there are no minimum GRE scores needed to apply. As part of admission to the department, we review all aspects of the application.

Q: What is the minimum undergraduate GPA needed to apply?

A: There is no required minimum GPA. Our successful applicants generally show an undergraduate grade point average of 3.3 or higher.

Q: Do I need to hold a BA in History in order to apply to your graduate program?

A: No. The History Department accepts students from a variety of educational backgrounds and fields.

Q: Is there anything I can do to strengthen my application if I did not major in History as an undergraduate?

A: Evaluating applicants requires making judgments about their promise for successful advanced study in history.  Competitive applications might include evidence of strong writing ability, prior research experience, overall academic excellence, and the capacity to explain clearly the reasons for pursuing history rather than another field.

Q: Do I need to have a Master’s degree to apply to the Doctoral program in History?

A: No, an MA is not required to apply to the Doctoral program. Some of our students enter the Doctoral program with a previous MA, and many do not.

Q: What should I include in my statement of purpose?

A: There are no set requirements for the contents of the statement of purpose.  The statement of purpose will be especially useful in the evaluation if it helps us to understand your goals in pursuing an advanced degree in history, the academic experiences that led you to choose to study history, and the topics or approaches to history that you find especially engaging.  Feel free to include other information that you think is important for us to have in evaluating your application.  The statement should be written in clear and correct prose; it is an opportunity to showcase your writing ability.

Q: What is the Department looking for in the writing sample?

A: The required academic writing sample should not exceed 35 pages double-spaced. Choose a sample that shows writing skills relevant to the study of history, for example, the ability to draw on primary historical evidence to form and support an argument, or the ability to assess and connect with the interpretations of other historians. If you do not have training in history, choose a writing sample that demonstrates an ability to formulate arguments and mobilize evidence to support them. 

Q: Are all PhD students fully-funded?

A: History doctoral students receive full funding support for five years (four for students entering with an M.A. who choose to count those credits) through the Henry M. MacCracken Program.  The MacCracken Program is a fellowship that covers tuition, registration, service fees for your degree program, student health insurance, and a 9-month stipend towards expenses.  For the 2013 - 2014 Academic Year, the MacCracken amount was $25,060.  In addition, students receive three summers of funding.

The Graduate School views teaching as a vital part of any doctoral degree. It has resonance for a student's intellectual development and professional preparation, especially for students pursuing academic careers or indeed, any career in which you must clarify ideas and speak about them persuasively.  If you choose to participate in our teaching program, you will be compensated for each teaching opportunity into which you enter.  This compensation is in addition to your MacCracken award.

Q: Can I study part-time?

A: No. All students are fully-funded to pursue the PhD full-time.

Q: What is the job placement record for graduates from the doctoral program?

A: Our top-tier students have been successful in securing faculty positions at public and private research universities, and at the most selective liberal arts colleges, across the nation.  Please take a look: Graduate Placement & Alumni News.

Q: How many people apply to the Doctoral program each year? How many are accepted?

A: We receive roughly 400 applications annually. We are able to enroll about 15 new students each year.

Q: What is the foreign language requirement? Do I need to enter the program with proficiency in a foreign language?

A: For doctoral students, proficiency in one modern foreign language must be demonstrated by passing the GSAS Foreign Language Proficiency exam. The exam should be passed during the first year, and must be passed before the qualifying examination for PhD students. Language requirements beyond the minimum are determined by field, and further tailored to the research of individual students. Students who require additional language training to support their research may be eligible for tuition remission to cover the cost of undergraduate language courses offered by the College of Arts and Science.

For applicants to the Master’s and Certificate programs:

Q: Do I need to have a Master’s degree to apply for an advanced certificate in Archives or Public History?

A: Yes, students applying for an advanced certificate must hold an MA degree (or foreign credentials equivalent to the US Master’s degree).

Q: Can I study part-time?

A: Yes, part-time study is an option. Some classes are scheduled in the evening, making it possible for a student to hold a job while pursuing his or her Master’s degree or advanced certificate.

Q: What is the foreign language requirement? Do I need to enter the program with proficiency in a foreign language?

A: Students in the MA World History program must demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language relevant to their studies by passing the GSAS Foreign Language Proficiency exam (normally taken in the first semester of study). In some cases, previous college-level work in a foreign language can substitute for the proficiency exam. There is no foreign language requirement for students in our other MA and Certificate programs.

Q: What financial aid is available for MA students?

A: Several graduate assistantships are offered to students in the Archives and Public History MA program within the archives concentration, in conjunction with Bobst Library.  All applicants to the Archives and Public History MA program are automatically considered for these assistantships. 

The Tuition Assistance Program for school teachers offers a 50% tuition discount to full-time primary and secondary teachers in New York City who are enrolled in the master’s program in World History. Awards granted under this program are contingent on the availability of funds.

Master's students in World History are also encouraged to apply for a Foreign Language And Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship through NYU. Links to relevant departments through which students can apply appear below under GSAS funding.

The Graduate School’s Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) encourages students to apply for external grants and provides matching tuition points (from 50 to 100 percent) to eligible recipients of external awards from recognized, academic sources of funding outside NYU.  For applications and specific details about TIP eligibility criteria, please visit  New York University offers several loan programs to students.  Information is available at or at the Office of Financial Aid, 212-998-4444.