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Foreign applicant PhD American history


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I am considering applying next year to PhD programs in History for the Fall 2009 term but I am concerned that foreign applicants studying American history might not have a real chance of being accepted. I am sure Foreigners are highly demanded in areas such as European history, or say Asian history but I am guessing they have way enough American people for American history.

I am a graduate student in History from a very prestigious French school. I spent last year in the US in a Ivy university as a French assistant teacher and I am now completing an MA in American history (interracial relations in postwar industrial cities). I took history classes in the US but I am not a native speaker and don't have transcripts. I think I may have a chance if I propose a project in a sort of "world history" perspective-- I am thinking of doing something on panafricanism, or the relations between African Americans and Francophone Africans-- that would give my application better chances because I have a strong background in European history and language knowledge as well.

Do you think I have any chances getting in a PhD program in History? and there's also the money issue: do you think I could get funding (king of crucial question actually)? or should I stay in my country :-) ...?

Thanks for any advice on that matter !

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I think you have just as much a chance as anyone, but I'd strongly recommend face-to-face interviews at your target schools. If the graduate committee is looking at you as a person and not an application you will have a much easier time overcoming any purported bias against foreign students within the U.S. field.

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I would think that they would be highly interested in a foreign applicant studying American history. I think that you probably have an interesting and differing perspective than other domestic applicants, which they might see as adding to the historiography of your particular subfield. I wish you the best of luck. Which subfields in American history are you interested?

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The fact that you are considering a more "world history" approach suggests that you might find it easier to apply to those kinds of programs, not just American history. This would probably vary by program though. But I'd think having that different approach, as informed by your background, would definitely make you stand out in applying to most U.S. History programs, and that could only help you.

I think you could get at least partial funding but it depends on the school. I distinctly recall at least one school I looked at offering a fellowship for non-natives (it was for women though) so maybe there are others. My boyfriend came to the U.S. from South America to pursue an MBA, and he was funded through assistantships. Sure, he was teaching in the Spanish department but it was better than nothing. Does your university have any "sister" universities in the U.S.? Those kinds of relationships might result in funding and definitely look into external fellowships. And I would suggest, if you haven't already, talking to some of the people you encountered when you were here in the U.S.

Hope that helps.

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Thanks to everybody for sharing your opinion with me and yes it does help me a lot. You all sound pretty optimistic about my case so that feels good and I will see what happens... I first have to finish my current work (MA thesis) and then I'll start looking for programs that would match with my interests and my profile. I am genuinely interested in working in a "world history" perspective but it seems that most schools offering such approach are usually looking for people with a background in a non-European or non-American field (which makes sense) and I can't consider myself as for now a specialist in something else besides American and European history.

I can't really count on my school for that matter because it is a State school --like most of the elite schools in France-- and they don't want to give away their students considering we are suppose to be willing to work for the State all our lives. I guess I should be happy in a way because that means job security but I don't find it very exciting for many reasons.

I was also wondering if I could teach in a French department as a TA and I see now thanks to luvalicious that it is possible. So that's good news too.

Thanks again for your help and best of luck for those waiting on decisions.

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