Jump to content

The State of Colonial American History?


Recommended Posts

Hi all, as a future Fall 2015 applicant for colonial history Ph.D. programs, I wanted to pose a question to the community of graduate students here about how they feel regarding the current state of the field. Specifically, I'm curious as to whether you guys feel that the ranking of Ph.D. programs in colonial history by US News and World Report is accurate. They ranked the top three programs in the following order:


1. Harvard

2. Penn

3. William and Mary


Do you guys feel that this ranking is accurate? Even more specifically, how do you think this would apply to someone that is particularly interested in Native American studies? It doesn't seem that Harvard has much focus on Native American history at all, whereas Penn has Daniel Richter and W&M has Brett Rushforth. Just curious to hear what you guys think about this. Thanks !  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi caskofespresso,


I was a recent applicant in colonial American history, also focusing on Native American history. I just finished the application/decision process and will be beginning a Ph.D. program in the fall.


I honestly do not think those rankings can be applied to Native American history. In fact, during my application process, I felt that only four of the programs on that list would be strong places to pursue research with a focus in Native American history (at least for my interests/geographic focus). I also believe that some of the strongest Native American history programs do not appear on the list at all. For example, while Harvard has a wonderful program overall, it currently isn't the best place to pursue research with a focus in Native American history (this is both my personal opinion and something I've heard from others in the field).


When I searched for graduate programs, I felt that it was most important to look at the number of faculty focusing on Native American history (or cross-cultural relations in early America). I also felt it was important that programs have a vibrant community of scholars in other departments working on various aspects of Native American studies. I also found the regional focus of faculty to be a big factor in determining which programs were the best fit. (For example, if you study the Great Lakes region, programs like Michigan, Minnesota, or Illinois might be a particularly strong fit, even if all of them don't appear on the colonial history rankings.)


To find which programs I thought might be a good fit, I started with the obvious--figuring out where the authors of various books I used for my research and/or read in my undergraduate seminars are located. After this, I visited the websites of the 40 top-ranked programs in American history and made a spreadsheet of faculty with relevant research interests. (I realize this second method is somewhat arbitrary, but I needed some way to make the process more manageable.)


If you'd like to chat about this any more or want any more details, please feel free to PM me!

Edited by Cafe2014
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use