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You can study the history of almost any theme, time period, or place in Harvard’s PhD program—among the top-rated programs in the US.

You will work with a stellar faculty in the Department of History and neighboring departments as you acquire advanced skills in historical research, analysis, and writing, as well as teaching.

Nine research centers affiliated with the history program offer further programs in area studies, including The Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. You also have access to the largest university library system in the world, consisting of 80 libraries and 17 million volumes.

Examples of dissertations students have worked on include “Cold War Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Military Spending from 1949 to 1989” and “Imperial Schemes: Empire and the Rise of the British Business-State, 1914–1939.”

Graduates of the program have gone on to teach at Yale University, Princeton University, NYU, and the University of Maryland. Others have gone on to positions outside academia as startup founders, lawyers, policy analysts, and museum curators.

Additional information on the graduate program is available from the Department of History and requirements for the degree are detailed in Policies.

Areas of Study

African History | Ancient History | Byzantine History | Early Modern European History | East Asian History | Environmental History | International and Global History | Latin American History | Medieval History | Middle Eastern History | Modern European History | Russian and Eastern European History | South Asian History | United States History

Admissions Requirements

Please review admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Department of History.

Writing Sample

A writing sample is required. While there is not a specific length requirement, most writing samples are around 20 to 25 pages. If you are submitting a sample that is part of a larger work (a chapter from a thesis, for instance) you may include a brief abstract situating the piece in the larger work.

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose should include why you want to study history in graduate school, why you want to study at Harvard, and indicate your research interests and potential advisors. The required writing sample should be of remarkable quality and ask historical questions. Reading ability in two languages other than English is helpful. Most statements of purpose are around 3 to 5 pages.

Standardized Tests

GRE General: Optional


In coordination with Harvard Law School, students may pursue both a PhD in history and a JD at Harvard Law School. To learn more about this course of study consult the Coordinated JD/PhD program overview.

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for History


See list of History faculty


Degrees Offered


Questions about the Program?

Dan Bertwell
Graduate Program Coordinator