Advice for Prospective GU History PhD Applicants

Georgetown History prides itself on the diverse backgrounds and experiences of its students. Our admissions committee recognizes that different backgrounds may produce different kinds of skills as well as challenges. We consider the whole application, not simply grades and test scores.

For general questions about the doctoral program and application process, please write to Katie Benton-Cohen, Director of Doctoral Studies, or Carolina Madinaveitia, Graduate Programs Manager.

We strongly encourage applicants to contact their prospective mentor and other faculty members with whom they wish to pursue their doctoral degree, as well as current students in the program, prior to submitting an application, in order to verify whether Georgetown History is a good fit.

Doctoral research depends on strong mentoring relationships. Before you apply, look carefully at the profiles of our faculty and be sure you know which faculty you want to work with. Familiarize yourself with the research of your prospective mentor or mentors. Contact them directly with questions about their field or their graduate teaching. Also ask them if there are students you can contact. The program currently has nine different regional and disciplinary fields. This is also roughly the number of doctoral students we admit each year. Competition is stiff. Direct contact with faculty and students in the program will help you decide whether Georgetown is right for you and help your prospective mentors advance your case in the admissions process.

Background: A degree in History is not required to apply. However, candidates with strong experience in historical studies will generally be favored. If you do not have a History degree, be sure that your application demonstrates to the greatest degree possible your commitment and potential as a historian.

Many students enter the PhD program after completing an MA in History or some other discipline. However, some applicants with a BA are admitted. We also sometimes invite PhD applicants to consider our MA program instead.

Statement of Purpose: Your statement of purpose should explain what you plan to study and why. We understand that interests and research topics often shift in the course of the PhD. But be as specific as you can about the kind of research you see yourself pursuing at Georgetown. You do not need to include autobiographical information unless you feel it is essential to understanding your study and career plans.

Writing Sample: A strong example of your writing is crucial. Your writing sample must show your analytic skills and your ability to work with historical sources. If you have writing that draws on primary source material and material in a language relevant to your research plans, this will significantly strengthen your application. Make sure what you submit is as polished as possible. The sample should be a maximum of 50 pages. If you are excerpting a larger work, please provide a cover page explaining the selection and larger context.

GRE Results: Starting with the application for matriculation in Fall 2021, GRE scores will be optional for PhD applicants. For those who do opt to submit them, GRE scores are valid for five years. There is no minimum score for admission. 

Transcripts: Starting in Fall 2019, students must only submit unofficial transcripts through the online portal during the application portal. Official transcripts will be required once an admission offer is made. Do not send official transcripts prior to receiving an admission offer.
Per the Graduate School Admissions team, “an acceptable transcript upload is a copy of an official transcript produced by the institution. (We consider these uploaded transcripts to be “unofficial” as they are submitted by the applicant). This includes:
-Scanned copies of paper transcripts issued by the institution to the student
-Electronic transcripts issued by the institution to the student (not a download from your institution’s web portal)
-We do not accept screenshots or photos, and we do not accept downloads of the “student’s view” from your institution’s website.”