Montana State University

Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172320
Bozeman, MT 59717-3440

Tel: (406) 994-4395
Fax: (406) 994-7420
Location: 2-155 Wilson Hall

Department Chair

Dr. David Cherry

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Doctor of Philosophy in History

The Graduate Program is designed to train students to think historically, to conduct research effectively, and to write lucidly. Students research and write in seminar settings as well as individually under the guidance of each student’s graduate committee.  The program seeks to expand students’ intellectual horizons and expose students to the variety of roles played by historians in academic and public life through seminar discussions, classroom instruction, teaching assistantships, and internships.

Admission Requirements

  • M.A. degree in history or related field
  • Letter of application that addresses the applicant’s areas of intended study and the applicant’s qualifications for doctoral-level work
  • Three academic letters of recommendations
  • Graduate Record Exam Scores
  • Writing Sample (major research paper or M.A. thesis chapter)
  • Official undergraduate and Graduate Transcripts

Application Procedure

Ph.D. applications can be obtained online on the The Graduate School's website. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. Applications are due no later than January 30th, 2014, for admission for the Fall 2015 Semester.

The application consists of a standarized form and processing fee required by the university, as well as individual writings and documents required by the department. You can complete the standardized form online on the Graduate School's homepage by clicking here. A non-refundable application fee of $60 is required for all applicants.

All other application materials should be sent directly to:
Department of History and Philosophy
Graduate Program
P.O. Box 172320
Bozeman, MT, 59717

Application Guidelines: The faculty consider the letter of intent and the writing sample to be among the most important parts of the application. The letter should describe your preparation for the program, academic interests, and professional goals. The most useful statements are those that present an intellectual portrait of the applicant, an account of the issues the applicant now finds engaging, and the program of study the canidate envisions for him/herself at MSU. The writing sample should be a substantial essay, ideally a seminar paper or a MA thesis, that demonstrates the canidate's potential for advanced work in the discipline.

The applicant should arrange for undergraduate transcripts, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and three letters of recommendation to be sent directly to the Department of History and Philosophy. Letters of recommendation are most helpful when they speak to the applicant's academic and professional achievements in History or related fields.

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. in History requires a minimum of 24 credit hours above the M.A. degree and a minimum of 18 credits of History 690 (Dissertation Writing). The 24 course credits must include History 507 (Advanced Historical Writing). Note that the precise credit/course requirement will be determined by the student’s doctoral committee chair in consultation with the student and the other committee members.

All students will declare a Major Field of emphasis (normally 12 credits of course work), as well as two minor areas.

Major Fields include:

  • Environmental History
  • US History and History of the American West
  • History of Science, Technology, and Society

Minor Areas

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Class, labor, and economy
  • Religious studies
  • Historical theories and methodologies
  • Comparative frontiers
  • Science, technology, and society
  • Environmental studies
  • Philosophy of science
  • Museum studies
  • American West

The Ph.D. program in History offers students the opportunity to obtain a Minor Field in Public History. To obtain the minor, students are expected to take an additional 15 credits that include History 502 (Public History and Material Culture). Students are normally expected to complete at least 9 credits of History 598 (Internship).

Mastery of Subject Matter

Mastery of the major field will be determined by:
1. the Dissertation
2. a record of excellence in all departmental courses
3. submission of a “Syllabus Requirement,” in which student designs and defends a detailed course syllabus in their major field or the submission of another applied exercise, such as the design (script) of a museum exhibit
4. a four-hour written exam generated by the faculty in the major field
5. two two-hour exams generated by other members of the committee
6. a two-hour final oral examination with the Graduate Committee


All written examinations must be completed prior to enrolling in History 690 (Doctoral Thesis). The Major Field written exam will be four hours in length and administered by the student’s major advisor and read by the student’s committee. The minor area written exams will be two hours in length and administered by the student’s graduate committee.

Foreign Language Requirement

All students are required to demonstrate reading knowledge of at least one foreign language as determined by an examination administered by the Department.

Contact Information

For more information about the History and Philosophy Department Graduate programs, please contact Tim LeCain, Director of Graduate Studies,, or call the main History Department office: (406) 994-4395.