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Fall 2016 Applicants

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eh, imo primary source research >>>>>>>>> secondary source stuff. Like, you've got anywhere between 10-25 pages to demonstrate your potential as a historian–if they want to know your ability to navigate secondary scholarship, they'll ask for a book review (cough cough Yale.) I think you'll be fine so long as you sort of wave your hand in the general direction of some names. Obviously more detailed would be better, but like your secondary stuff at this point could literally be "X professor said that social history was important in this context and Y professor said political history is cool so I'm doing both! Yay moving on now~" and that would suffice for the most part. 

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You should have a histiriographical review in your paper somewhere. It doesn't need to be more than a paragraph or 2, but show you know the relevant works. Everything else can be primary source with the pertinent secondary works you're using to frame your argument.

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My best piece of advice is apply broadly.  Between 8 and 15 seems to be the sweet spot for getting into a good program.  Also, are you interested in a particular immigrant group? A certain region?  

 

I have to say I disagree. Limit your search to the top-20, look for 3-5 programs, and be willing to not get in anywhere and move on. Your goal isn't to get into grad school. Your goal is to get a job after grad school.

Edited by telkanuru

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I have to say I disagree. Limit your search to the top-20, look for 3-5 programs, and be willing to not get in anywhere and move on. Your goal isn't to get into grad school. Your goal is to get a job after grad school.

Agreed.  Also, doing more than 8 applications is a LOT of work and you'll be too tired to tailor your application after the sixth one (I know I was).  Doing so also demonstrates that you're A) desperate B) placing your self-worth lower on the ladder and/or C) Your focus isn't specific enough.  It is possible to find so many programs that fit your interests as well but with the job market as it is and your particular post-PhD goals, you can afford to be picky.

 

As I say on these boards, the PhD will always be there.

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My MA adviser told me specifically to apply to around 10 schools because it's so competitive and because she knew I want the PhD for the sake of spending 5-7 years getting the PhD and won't die if I get shut out of academia after. I don't think applying widely makes you desperate or your interests too broad (based on my experience at least--my research is fairly specific) but I think TMP and telkanuru are right in their advice based on your career goals. I think top 25-30 is a good range to look at, and I've told my classmates who are applying this year not to even look below 50 even though I did, because let's be honest...it's career suicide if you want an academic position.

If you ARE planning to apply to a bunch of schools, the best advice I can give you is to fill out all the basic information of the applications ahead of time. I had all that done before November even rolled around, so then I could just upload documents and click submit when I finished my statement and WS. That said, I think this is an extremely personal and personalized experience, and you need to figure out what schools you truly want to apply to. Don't apply anywhere you wouldn't go. If that adds up to 10 applications and you can afford to do it, or if it ends up being 3, that's totally fine.

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There is a 99.9% chance I will be joining those applying for Fall 2016. I am rising senior at a sizable research university in the Northeast. I am looking to do Early 20th Century America (1900-1945), primarily focusing on the relationship between immigration and politics.

 

A lot of you seem so much further along in your preparation than I am! I just finished the paper that I plan on using for my writing sample (although it is going to need revisions over the summer). I have done some research on potential POI's and their placement history but not as much as I'd like. Fortunately I'm going to have a light course load in the fall so I can focus on my two language courses (Italian and German),my honors thesis and grad school applications. I won't be taking the GRE until October, which I hope isn't a big mistake on my part. I have two of my LoR writers lined up, and more or less just have to ask the 3rd.

 

I'll be applying to a handful of PhD programs, the MA program at my current institution, and a secondary education program at my current institution. 

 

I am all ears to any tips, suggestions, etc. anyone on here might have for me. Good luck everyone!

 

Best of luck to you! I have some overlap with that time period and topic (although I've moved towards empire and cultural history now), but I'm doing a bit of work with Donna Gabaccia, and Russell Kazal works at my institution as well (throwing out some shots in the dark with respect to your brief topic intro). Happy to be of help!

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Hi all. I'll also be applying for History PhD programs this coming season. I'm specifically interested in Late Imperial Chinese History, with a particular focus on a sub field known as "New Qing History."

 

My situation is a little different from those of you who are finishing up your undergrad right now. I'm currently enrolled i a relevant terminal MA program here in LA, and I'd love to continue into a PhD program here as well. So I'll be consumed with applications like the rest of you, but my primary focus right now is to impress my adviser here at the same university in hopes that she'll look favorably upon my PhD application this Fall! So much about PhD program admissions can hinge on a personal relationship, so I'm really hoping the time I've spent here and the work I've done with this professor will help me a lot during the application process.

 

Besides that, for the fields of my interest I'm looking at Georgetown, UVA, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and Yale among others.

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I can't really be the first medievalist to reply to this, can I? 

Unfortunately for me my interests are largely obscure (socio-cultural history of late medieval, Gaelic-speaking Ireland) and the best researchers in the field are in Ireland & the UK. So I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel to put together my application list; I really wish I had the luxury of only sticking to top programs, but I was informed that I should stick to people who are in Irish history as its going to be difficult to properly advise me. Which is disappointing as I wanted to try to apply to Yale (seriously, the Beinecke is amazing), but it was a stretch in terms of advising, so c'est la vie.

1. Harvard Celtic. While I'd be technically leaving history (heresy, I know!) and venturing into languages and literatures, my focus on Irish language manuscripts automatically means I'd be better positioned in Celtic rather than in Harvard History. I also lean towards studying the Gaelic literati (the poets in particular) and want to try looking at taking a comparative approach (vis a vis Wales), so I'd think that both O Cathasaigh and McKenna would be great to work with... I just worry that O Cathasaigh will be retiring (based on some job postings) and so I'm wary of tailoring my SOP towards working with him. I'm also concerned that 1) my lack of overtly majoring in Celtic or Irish Studies [something that the current grad students overwhelmingly did; I technically have 40+ credits towards it, but I was just a plain history major] 2) my lack of languages on my transcript (seven years of French in K-12 allowed me to skip language in college; self taught in Irish and used that on my honors thesis; taking Latin currently along with German] and 3) the fact that I didn't attend CUNY or U Toronto or UCB [which all appear to be feeders for the program based on the current grad students] would ultimately hurt my application. What I particularly love about the program is that there's an obvious encouragement to study the Celtic languages and read the original writings sans translation (that seems like a no-brainer, but American Celticists have a bad habit of working from translations alone), that there's an option to learn Welsh immersively, that Harvard offers an Ad Hoc PhD option that would allow me to apply to work with the History department (in conjunction with Celtic) which means I can stay a historian (yay!), and that I could also do a secondary field in Historical Linguistics which I discovered was a passion of mine in undergrad. Quite frankly, given my weird interests I'd probably be a poor traditional historian and I think this offers me the best chance to engage with my weird, seemingly disparate interests.

2. Notre Dame Medieval Institute (History Track). I would not be sad to get in here instead of Harvard, to be quite honest. Having the resources of the Medieval institute and the Keough Naughton Irish Studies Institute would make my life 1000x easier. While there isn't an Irish medievalist at ND, there is a historian of Tudor Ireland, Rory Rapple, as well as someone who does Irish literature, Amy Mulligan, which is honestly more than good enough as far as I'm concerned. The placement records here are impressive to say the least. I'm just concerned about languages again, however, as ND requires competency in French, German and particularly in Latin... While I'm working on the latter two, I'm concerned it may be too little too late for this year's admission cycle, so I'm mentally preparing myself for this to go on for several years.

3. University of Washington History. On the plus side, I'd be in a traditional history department, aiming to work with Robin Chapman Stacey whose name carries a great deal of weight in the study of Early Irish Law. Given how relevant the law is in later centuries to Gaelic society, this could be a very productive advising relationship. I've also previously taken a course in Early Irish Law with Prof. Daibhi O Croinin at NUI Galway, so hopefully I'd stand out in admissions due to that fact. I just worry about being isolated as a Celticist within the department as well as hiring potential. I gather that UW has a good reputation on the West Coast, but I'm a native New Englander and attended college in Virginia and hence have a preference for being employable on the East Coast (though I know I can't be picky).

4. UConn History. This one I need to do more research on, as this was entirely off my radar until a professor on my honors thesis committee mentioned it to me. Again I think the program has a respectable, if not prestigious, regional reputation. I'd get access to both Boston College's collections as well as Harvard's, so the location offsets that factor, particularly if I can publish some decent articles and make a name for myself quickly. I'd want to work with Brendan Kane as we have more than a few overlapping interests and he's friends with one of my UG professors. While I think I could have a really good advising experience here, I'm wary of the lack of "name" as well as the resources (inherent to the university) issue.

5. USC History. Between the location and the very tenuous link between my research interests and my potential adviser (Lisa Bitel) interests, I'm not terribly sold on this one, to be honest. Bitel definitely has a name amongst medievalists as even my thesis adviser (whose research pretty much never involves anything Irish) knows of her, so I'm loathe to remove the program from the list. I plan on reading more of her works to continue to see how I feel about it.

I once had Boston College on my list-- I love BC and grew up a BC fan-- but more than a few professors convinced me that the slim employment prospects with a BC PhD would not be worth the effort, so I nixed it, even though the Irish Studies program is pretty strong... Though admittedly very, very sparse in terms of medieval offerings. Which is weird for a Jesuit school if you ask me. Speaking of, I have a weird history with Fordham and NYC (ie also NYU), so those were automatically gone. Other than Harvard Celtic, I'm also unwilling to leave history, so I didn't apply to some of the usual suspects in terms of Celtic (UC Berkeley and even Virginia Tech [the Eska's have done some really interesting work]). I just really, really do not want to be in a position where I'm forced to become an English professor. Teaching freshman comp sounds like a horrific way to start one's career. 100-level history surveys? Fine. Comp? Nopenopenope.

Edited by Banstaraí

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I noticed yesterday that the short list of professors I'd be interested in working with has five women on it out of seven, and my long list has about eight out of twelve. I was quite surprised that such a dramatic ratio snuck up on me! My research interests have little or nothing to do with gender (to the degree that a topic in history can have nothing to do with gender), but I wonder if there is something about the topics I'm interested in that attracts a higher proportion of women.

 

Or perhaps it was an unconscious sign that I am just tired to death of all male faculty, all the time, after an undergraduate degree in which I had seven female professors over thirty professor-led courses—and exactly three of whom I encountered in a distribution requirement course that they all co-taught.

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I noticed yesterday that the short list of professors I'd be interested in working with has five women on it out of seven, and my long list has about eight out of twelve. I was quite surprised that such a dramatic ratio snuck up on me! My research interests have little or nothing to do with gender (to the degree that a topic in history can have nothing to do with gender), but I wonder if there is something about the topics I'm interested in that attracts a higher proportion of women.

 

Or perhaps it was an unconscious sign that I am just tired to death of all male faculty, all the time, after an undergraduate degree in which I had seven female professors over thirty professor-led courses—and exactly three of whom I encountered in a distribution requirement course that they all co-taught.

It depends on your topic of interest.  Women and URM faculty tend to be more interested in marginalized population and "from below" social history.  Most of my undergrad professors at a SLAC were men and almost all of my graduate school professors were women.  I attribute the gender imbalance due to A) hiring scheduel and B) overlapping of interest in marginalized populations.

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I just worry that O Cathasaigh will be retiring (based on some job postings) 

 

I'm 99.999999999999999% sure he is.

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Hello everyone. I am fully new to all of this. Anyway, I am a recently graduated history student looking to apply to phD programs in African History. I specifically want to focus on the political history of the Belgian Congo culminating in independence, western intervention and the Congo Crisis. There are numerous topics within this area which I believe are insufficiently covered. This is a highly specific focus and I realize that I am fairly limited in terms of people which I can work with. I am deeply passionate about history in general and pre/post-independence Africa specifically. 

 

I graduated this spring with a bachelors from a mid-tier public university (top 30 university) with a 3.68 GPA and am taking the GRE later this summer. I was not sufficiently serious about my undergraduate studies but hope to create a unique and interesting application through my own profile as a student. The elements I hope to rely on in my application process are firstly a university wide undergraduate research award I won this year for archival, primary source research. Secondly my mentor and thesis advisor, who was formerly a significant name in my field before changing to a closely related field and who has a very high view of me as a student and writer. Thirdly I am able hope my commitment to language learning will demonstrate my passion and engagement with the subject area. I am rapidly becoming proficient in reading French and am learning Swahili as well. My fourth area where I hope to demonstrate strength is through my passion for travel and learning about other cultures through teaching. I taught English last summer in Oman (where I was able to study a small amount of Arabic as well) and am traveling later this summer to the Eastern Congo to again teach English and additionally to further practice my Swahili (!). 

 

For my application, I hope to use some fairly original research I did for my undergraduate thesis on Patrice Lumumba (the iconic, assassinated first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo). I will use this research in a new paper, specifically for the application process. In adhering to the advice I have received, I will try to rely as extensively as possible in this process on French language primary sources. I have targeted 7 programs to focus on, based on a program quality, POI and location (East Coast). These are Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Boston College, New York University, Cornell and University of Connecticut. I specifically have three professors who I want to contact and potentially to meet with in person: Harms at Yale, Diouf at Columbia and Cooper at NYU. From my understanding, Cooper and NYU are likely my best fit but I am going to engage with the process as best I can in hopes of succeeding on my first dive into the application cycle.

Edited by YeshuaNgome

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iirc Cooper's retiring soon, so I'd look for more faculty besides him at NYU. In fact, I'd look for more than just one faculty at each school, as department politics can always play a heavy role in who does or doesn't get students. 

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Hello everyone,

I'll be applying to Fall 2016, and I'm interested in (agro)environmental history. I'm from outside US and I was thinking in UW Madison, any suggest?

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5. USC History. Between the location and the very tenuous link between my research interests and my potential adviser (Lisa Bitel) interests, I'm not terribly sold on this one, to be honest. Bitel definitely has a name amongst medievalists as even my thesis adviser (whose research pretty much never involves anything Irish) knows of her, so I'm loathe to remove the program from the list. I plan on reading more of her works to continue to see how I feel about it.

 

I'm at USC right now and had a course with Bitel last year (not my field, but she ran a very cool Premodern European Religions seminar.) If you're interested, I'd suggest contacting one of her current students to get a better idea of her advising style. (One member in my cohort is one of her advisees, and I know she'd love to hear from another medievalist.) If you have any general questions about the department and the program itself, do let me know. Good luck with your search!

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Hi all. I'll also be applying for History PhD programs this coming season. I'm specifically interested in Late Imperial Chinese History, with a particular focus on a sub field known as "New Qing History."

 

My situation is a little different from those of you who are finishing up your undergrad right now. I'm currently enrolled i a relevant terminal MA program here in LA, and I'd love to continue into a PhD program here as well. So I'll be consumed with applications like the rest of you, but my primary focus right now is to impress my adviser here at the same university in hopes that she'll look favorably upon my PhD application this Fall! So much about PhD program admissions can hinge on a personal relationship, so I'm really hoping the time I've spent here and the work I've done with this professor will help me a lot during the application process.

 

Besides that, for the fields of my interest I'm looking at Georgetown, UVA, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and Yale among others.

Hi kindkw123,

 

I presume you are considering working with Jim Millward in Georgetown. You can pm me about the program here and what working with Profs. Millward and Carol Benedict (and other historians here) is like.

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Hello everyone,

I'll be applying to Fall 2016, and I'm interested in (agro)environmental history. I'm from outside US and I was thinking in UW Madison, any suggest?

 What exactly in (agro)environmental history? Could you share your regional, temporal interests and questions you are asking?

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What exactly in (agro)environmental history? Could you share your regional, temporal interests and questions you are asking?

I'm thinking in the environmental consecuences of changes in land use of the southwestern US and northern Mexico (something transregional) in the first half of XX century.

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I'm thinking in the environmental consecuences of changes in land use of the southwestern US and northern Mexico (something transregional) in the first half of XX century.

I have literally no experience in this field but I know this is basically what Mikael Wolfe at Stanford does. He's assistant prof though, so maybe check around to see if there are other faculty there?

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You should check out Louis Warren at Davis. There are strong Latin Americanists on the faculty too, so you'd have good coverage for a transregional project.

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I'm thinking in the environmental consecuences of changes in land use of the southwestern US and northern Mexico (something transregional) in the first half of XX century.

 

Another possible person of interest is Matthew Vitz at UCSD. He works on water use, land changes (draining lake beds to facilitate agriculture and eventually urban sprawl), and forestry resources in Mexico. I work on land and water use in Northern Mexico (but more in an urban planning vein and less as environmental history), and I found him to be very helpful and kind.

 

I don't know much about Wolfe (except reading his dissertation). I do know, however, that he had been a candidate for the job position at UCSD (which Vitz won).

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Thanks to all of you. I realize that there are several options in California, I will consider them. I know the work of Wolfe, it' s really good but I was a little scared of applying to Stanford. I know also some papers of Vitz, he was here in Mexico two or three years ago, but you are right, it is more in the urban way.

I have in mind Colorado and Davis also, they seems to be very good options. Maybe I'll be asking you some things Ashiepoo, when you get used to the Davis faculty.

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Don't be scared of applying to reach schools! If Stanford really is a good fit for you, send in an application; unlike in undergrad, fit is the key factor here. I think the publications adage that "if you aren't rejected anywhere, you aren't aiming high enough" probably applies to graduate school admissions, too. (On the other hand, I am certainly going to rue saying that when my rejections start rolling in next year.)

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