Graduate Program

Tradition of Distinction

The Graduate Program in History at the University of Pennsylvania has a long tradition of distinction. One of the first programs in the United States to offer doctoral training in history (first Ph.D. conferred in 1891), the Department continues to be a leader. Few history departments in the country can match ours in global coverage and scholarly depth for the study of the past over the last half millennium.

Our faculty includes winners of distinguished honors, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Parkman Prize; Carnegie, Guggenheim, MacArthur, Sloan, SSRC, and Spencer fellowships; Fulbright, NEH, and ACLS grants, among many others; and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, current members of the Department have served as presidents of the Association for Asian Studies, the American Academy for Jewish Research, the Middle East Studies Association, and the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference.

Small and Selective

Penn admits a small number of graduate students every year, with generous fellowship support to support them through their studies and dissertation research. A hallmark of our program is close mentorship. Each graduate student meets regularly with their advisor and a committee of two or three other faculty members to discuss research, course work, and career goals.

We train students to think deeply and broadly about sources, methods, and theory. In addition to comprehensive training in history, we encourage our students to take courses related to their intellectual interests in other programs, departments, and schools, including archaeology, comparative literature, education, folklore, law, philosophy, political science, sociology, and social policy. In addition, our graduate group draws from the talents of extra-departmental historians and historically-minded scholars across the university.

Excellent Record

We are proud of our placement record. The majority of our Ph.D. graduates have secured tenure-track positions at research universities and liberal arts colleges throughout the United States and the world. Other graduates have gone onto distinguished careers at research institutions, public history programs, and museums.

Our alumni have made important contributions to the historical understanding of gender, class, race, and ethnicity; the history of economic and demographic transitions; intellectual and cultural studies; the social bases of political action; community formation and structure; cultural conflict and accommodation; and urbanization, industrialization, and immigration—among other things.