The Department of History welcomes your application for graduate studies. Before applying, be sure to read the Guidelines section of this website, which covers the structure and requirements of the Graduate Program in History.
Each year, we admit a small class of highly qualified students to the doctoral program. We also admit a select number of students to the terminal M.A. program. Admission is highly competitive. In recent years, we have admitted 5 to 10 percent of applicants.
When reading applications, we consider various things carefully:
• The match between the applicant's intellectual interests and the strengths of our faculty.
• The academic record, with particular attention given to grades in history and related subjects.
• The recommendations of three faculty members who have taught you in history or related subjects, who know you well, and who can attest to your intellectual abilities, qualities in the classroom, and writing skills. Recommendations from employers (unless they are in history or a related field) are seldom useful.
• The applicant's ability to write clearly and intelligently.
• TOEFL/TSE scores, if applicable. (If you are a non-U.S. citizen, but your degree is from an English-language university, you do not need to take the TOEFL test).
• GRE scores, which are considered in context of the total application, because scores alone rarely if ever determine the admissibility of a student. (We do not expect students to take the subject test in history.) Students should take the GRE in time for scores to reach the University by December 15. Penn's GRE code is 2926.
** Due to Covid-19, the Department will accept GRE at Home for those unable to go to testing centers. The same deadline applies. **
The University of Pennsylvania offers a generous program of financial aid to the great majority of its graduate students. Nearly all History Ph.D. students are recipients of four- or five-year fellowships awarded by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences upon admission. These fellowships include tuition, fees, health insurance, and an annual stipend (currently $30,940 per academic year).
Except where otherwise specified, application for fellowship monies is made simply by clicking the appropriate box in the online application. Students in the terminal M.A. program are usually ineligible for departmental fellowships; they may fund their studies through a combination of loans, work-study, and outside funding.
All applications and all supporting materials must be submitted online between October 1 and December 15 for admission into the M.A. or Ph.D. program in September of the following year. Students are notified of their admission status by the following late February/early March. There is no spring or summer admission in History.
The online application portal closes December 15 at 11:59pm EST. The application and all supporting documents must be received by this deadline. You will not be able to submit or revise anything afterwards. Please do not mail any paper documents; we will we not accept them.
A successful application to the department must include the following:
1) Completion of all information (including test scores) requested in the application portal.
2) A personal statement of purpose (no longer than two double-spaced pages) submitted online.
3) Three letters of recommendation submitted online by your references. Please note: Interfolio packets are not accepted. Your referees must upload their letters of recommendation to Penn's application portal. If a recommender cannot or will not use our online system, we suggest you ask someone else who will. Letters will be read in electronic format only.
4) Transcripts from any institution of higher education that has or will grant you a degree. They must be uploaded in PDF format. They can be official or unofficial copies. Should you be admitted, and should you accept, you will then be required to submit official copies from the institution(s).
5) A writing sample of 10–15 double-spaced pages, submitted online. Do not include images or bibliographies. Although Penn's application portal accepts larger uploads, the History Department is not obligated to read beyond 10 pages.
When you are ready to apply, use Penn's Online Application Portal.