Graduate Admissions

We are a community of scholars pursuing the study of a wide range of geographical areas and topics. The University of Oregon, moreover, offers an array of related interdisciplinary programs and a research library of more than two million volumes, along with many other resources.

The History department has an outstanding graduate faculty. We are large enough to have a wide array of geographical and thematic specialties, but small enough to provide close working relationships between faculty and graduate students, as well as a collegial environment.

Before You Apply

Thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in history at the University of Oregon? We encourage you to take the following steps to determine whether the Department of History is right for you.

Schedule a Visit

Prospective MA and PhD students are welcome to visit us at any time to help you decide whether the University of Oregon is the right place for you to pursue your graduate studies. While visits to UO are not required during the admission process, some students have found them helpful. If you decide to come, please let us know in advance so that we can help make your visit as useful as possible. Our Director of Graduate Studies and faculty members can be contacted directly to arrange appointments. Additionally, the Office of Admissions offers daily campus tours. Register at

Reach Out to Faculty Advisors

Prior to applying to our program, prospective students should examine the list of graduate faculty, paying special attention to their fields of study and the focus of their research. We encourage you to contact directly those faculty members with whom you propose to work to determine whether they are willing and able to advise you and oversee your proposed research project. (Please be aware that those faculty who are designated as “instructor” may not serve as graduate advisors.)

Admission into our PhD program is rare for students who wish to study fields beyond our particular strengths: North American West/ Borderlands, Indigenous People/Native Americans, Environmental history, African American/African history, the history of Women/Gender/Sexuality, Asia (especially China and Japan), Latin America, Russia, Transnational history, and intellectual history.

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Application Requirements

The Department of History will begin accepting applicants for Fall 2023 on September 1, 2022 through December 12, 2022.

As of 2022, the history faculty has eliminated the GRE requirement from the admissions process.

All applicants must submit the following materials online:

Graduate Admission Application

Applicants to graduate programs at the University of Oregon must submit their applications online and pay the $70 application fee with a credit card, though the Division of Graduate Studies also offers fee waivers to applicants who meet specific criteria. All the necessary forms are downloadable; the department does not send out graduate applications packets in hard copy. All of the information about the history graduate studies program, including information about financial aid and graduate employees, is available on the department’s website.

If you are interested in applying for a position as a graduate employee (UO’s term for a teaching assistant), make sure that you fill out the appropriate section of the online application.

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is used by the Graduate Committee to evaluate your ability to write, your interest in a specific field of history, and your goals as a future historian. Reading the applicant’s statement of purpose, the committee looks for a good fit between the applicant’s goals and the department’s program. It should be 1–2 pages, single spaces, in length. Please upload it into your online application.

College Transcripts

Applicants must have unofficial transcripts of all college work sent to us directly (though you may send an uploaded copy as well). Official transcripts only need to be sent if an applicant is offered and accepts admission to the history graduate program.

Division of Graduate Studies Official Transcript Requirement

  1. For MA and BA-to-PhD applicants: official transcripts from the institutions that granted you a bachelor’s degree (Official Transcripts only need to be sent to the Registrar from applicants that have been offered and accepted admission to the history graduate program. For submitting applications, uploading copies of unofficial transcripts will suffice).
  2. For other PhD applicants: official transcripts from the institutions that granted you an master’s degree (Official Transcripts only need to be sent to the Registrar from applicants that have been offered and accepted admission to the history graduate program. For submitting applications, uploading copies of unofficial transcripts will suffice).
  3. Financial statement and supporting documents (international students only)

Transcripts should be mailed to: 

Office of the Registrar
5257 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403 

Writing Sample

The sample of written work can be a seminar paper, a term paper, or a chapter of a master’s thesis. It need not be lengthy, but it should reflect your ability to do research, analyze historical sources, and write. Ideally, it should also be in the area of study that you intend to pursue in our program. Please upload it directly into your online application.

Letters of Recommendation

Students must submit three letters of recommendation. Ideally, these should be from professors with whom you worked as an undergraduate or MA student.

    Additional Materials for International Students

    In addition to the application materials required for all students, international students must provide three additional items:

    When completing your online application: If you do not have a social security number, leave that space blank. Upon admission to the UO a nine-digit student number will be assigned to you in lieu of a social security number.

    Proof of financial ability can take the form of a letter from the student’s/parents’/sponsor’s bank, a letter awarding a scholarship or government loan, or an affidavit of support (I-134).

    Upon verification of the student’s financial ability to pay for educational and living experiences, the UO will issue a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20), which is required in order for a student to apply for a visa.

    Results of the TOEFL and/or IELTS exam should be mailed to: 

    Graduate Admissions
    Department of History
    1288 University of Oregon
    Eugene, OR 97403-1288

    Send the financial statement and bank statement (if requested) to:

    Office of Admissions
    240 Oregon Hall
    1217 University of Oregon
    Eugene, OR 97403-1217

    For additional information of interest to international students, see

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    Graduate Application Video Guides

    In these videos, our faculty address some common questions, successes, and errors that arise in the graduate admissions process.

    Step 1: The first step in deciding whether to apply to the University of Oregon is to reach out to your potential advisor. This video from our department head, Vera Keller, provides some thoughts and tips about how to do that as well as a look into our special archives collection.

    Step 2: The next step is to decide whether to apply to the MA or the PhD program. If you already have an MA in History you should apply to the PhD program, but those with a BA can apply either to the MA or to a BA-PhD track. This video offers some thoughts on which program to apply to.

    Step 3: Next, how to decide which writing sample to select for the program you choose.

    Step 4: The statement of purpose is the most important part of your application. This video provides advice on how to craft it.

    Step 5: Some of our faculty members who often receive graduate applications have made self-introduction videos for students who may be interested in applying to work with them. If your potential advisor doesn’t have a video below, don’t worry – it just means our videographers haven’t gotten to them yet! We will be adding videos here over time.

    David Luebke

    Marsha Weisiger

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    Apply to our Graduate Program

    Ready to apply? Start your application on Slate, the centralized application portal for graduate admissions at the University of Oregon.

    Apply Now

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    Admissions FAQs

    Can I be admitted to any term other than the fall?

    No. We admit students once a year for fall term only. There are two reasons for this. First, it ensures that each student starts with all the others in our required introductory sequence, HIST 612, 615, 616 (Historical Methods and Writing, Professional Development, and Conference) which is offered from fall to spring quarters each year. Second, it allows every applicant a fair chance to receive an appointment as a graduate employee (UO’s term for teaching assistant).

    Do I need a prior degree in history to apply?

    While a prior degree in history is not required, it is expected that all applicants will have substantial undergraduate coursework in history. If your background doesn’t take the form of a history BA, be sure that your experience in history is visible in your transcripts, your writing samples, and your statement of purpose.

    What is the minimum recommended GPA?

    Most successful applicants to the UO graduate program in history have outstanding undergraduate records, but occasionally students take longer to reach their potential. Applicants whose grades in undergraduate history courses were not mostly in the A range (3.5 GPA or higher) may need to explain why their performance at the graduate level can be expected to exceed their undergraduate performance in history.

    Is the GRE required, optional, or not considered at all?

    In 2022, the history faculty voted to remove the GRE requirement in order to make admissions accessible to a wide range of students. To ensure that all applicants are judged by the same criteria, the department’s application process does not include the opportunity to submit GRE scores, not even optionally.

    Do I need a foreign language?

    Once in the history graduate program, all students are required to demonstrate—or acquire—mastery of at least one foreign language. The amount of language preparation that students should list on their applications varies according to the field (U.S., European, Asian, etc.) and degree (MA, PhD). The Graduate Committee will be looking for appropriate linguistic background and skill, so be sure that your application lists your language training. It is rare for a student to be admitted in a field involving foreign language research without basic competency in that language. For information about the expectations of specific fields, you may wish to contact either the director of graduate studies or a potential faculty advisor in that field.

    How many people apply and are accepted into the program?

    Generally speaking, the history department receives 80–100 applications and admits 10–15 students to the program each admission cycle.

    Should I apply to the MA program or the PhD program?

    Applicants with bachelor’s degrees are encouraged to apply to the MA program.

    Applicants with master’s degrees should apply directly to the PhD program. In unusual cases, such as those of applicants who have an MA in a field other than history, contact the director of graduate studies before submitting your application.

    Applicants intending to take a terminal master’s degree, or to apply to another PhD program after completing the MA at Oregon, should apply to the MA program.

    Does the department offer a direct BA to PhD option?

    Yes. Applicants may apply directly to the PhD program. However, because of limited funding, we only offer admission directly to the PhD program to a few such applicants. On the other hand, if your record is especially strong and you indicate that your ultimate goal is a PhD, we may admit you into our PhD program, even if you apply only to the MA program. You, of course, are under no obligation to continue your studies beyond the MA.

    Applicants with bachelor’s degrees who apply directly to the PhD program will automatically be considered for admission to the MA program should they not be admitted to the PhD program. Applying to the PhD program will not hinder an applicant’s chances of being accepted into the MA program.

    Students who apply to the PhD program but who are admitted to the MA program remain eligible to apply to the PhD program in subsequent admissions cycles without paying an additional application fee.

    What if some of my materials don’t arrive on time?

    (GRE tests are not required for the history department’s admissions process.)We understand that the submission date of some materials, such as letters of recommendation, is not entirely under your control. If you believe your materials are going to arrive late, please contact us. The department will make a note of it in your file.

    How are applications evaluated?

    The department’s Graduate Committee consists of four history department faculty. Evaluation of files begins immediately after the application deadline. After the initial reading, any application that has been selected for a second reading will also be reviewed by potential advisors. In the final round of readings, Graduate Committee members use all the available information, including the comments of potential advisors, to rank all applicants. It is our department’s policy to award Graduate Employee positions to all those admitted into the PhD program. Any remaining positions are awarded to the top MA applicants in rank order.

    Many factors are involved in evaluating applications, including grades, test scores, statements of purpose, writing samples, recommendations, and language skills. Another important consideration, especially at the PhD level, is the fit between the academic interests of an applicant and our available faculty members. Each year, we turn down excellent applicants because the fit is not good, potential advisors are unavailable, or we do not feel confident that a given student graduating from our program would be able to compete effectively in a tight academic job market.

    How do I check the status of my application and ensure that it is complete?

    To check your application status, log back into your application using the original login and password you used when you applied. You will then be able to view the status of your application and see whether we have all your materials. Please keep in mind that we do not start opening transcripts and other mailed submissions until mid-October, so if you check your application status before that time, it may not yet reflect what we have received. If after viewing the website you have questions about your application, please contact us.

    When will I be notified of your decision?

    Admissions decisions are made as early as possible, generally by early February and applicants are informed shortly thereafter in writing. Applicants who have been accepted into the program will also be notified whether they were approved for funding or placed on a funding waiting list.

    Applicants who have been offered funding must inform the History department of their decision to accept or reject the offer by April 15 in compliance with the Council of Graduate Schools’ resolution on funding deadlines. Should an applicant with funding not accept the offer, the department will move down the waiting list to the next candidate.

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