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Gims

Does writing sample for history PhD grad school applications have to be related to intended field of study?

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Hello everyone! I would really love any insight on this topic. I graduated with my BA in May and will be applying for graduate school PhD programs this December. I am in the awkward position in which none of my undergraduate papers have any relation to my intended field of study (which will be East Asian, particularly Japanese, immigration to the US, immigration history, Asian American history). There are 2 papers I have in mind, the first being my historical methods research paper which focuses on the types of relations that developed between Native Americans and English/ French settlers due to their differing interests in the New World. Despite the relatively unoriginal topic, it is by far my best paper and has a clear, complex thesis that carries itself well throughout the entire paper. It is also very well written. However, it’s only 13 pages and, again, has nothing to do with my field of study. My second paper was a research paper on Japanese masculinities in the Sengoku, Tokugawa, and Meiji periods. Although it's 27 pages and is a far more interesting topic with an abundance of primary sources (and can be argued to be slightly more related to my field because it at least deals with Japan), it’s a bit of a trainwreck. It's a monster of a paper and would take immense editing.

 Do grad schools care if your writing sample is related to your field? Or is it simply a means to showcase your writing style and ability to write historical scholarship? Any suggestions on which paper, if either, I should choose?

 Thank you so much for listening. It has really been stressing me out.

Edited by Gims

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I’m in the same boat. My faculty mentor told me that your writing sample should show your best historical writing and use of primary sources. I’m using a paper I wrote on Anglo-Indian food and British colonial attitudes as my writing sample, even though my intended field of study is comparative gender history in the US/UK and Italy. 

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On 3/16/2018 at 3:40 PM, historygeek said:

I’m in the same boat. My faculty mentor told me that your writing sample should show your best historical writing and use of primary sources. I’m using a paper I wrote on Anglo-Indian food and British colonial attitudes as my writing sample, even though my intended field of study is comparative gender history in the US/UK and Italy. 

So, was your writing sample acceptable?

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