Graduate Studies


NOTE: Please see the Graduate School website concerning the following:

  • The official, online application
  • Application fee
  • The online recommendation submission procedures
  • Receipt of all transcripts
  • Receipt of GRE scores

The Graduate School website states that they do not operate on a deadline system but the history department has a deadline of December 15. Which is correct?

The history department deadline (December 15).

The Graduate School website states that if a department has an application deadline of December 15 that I should have all my materials submitted by early November or my application may not be considered. Is this correct?

No. All applications completed by December 15 will be considered for admission. The history department, however, strongly encourages applicants to begin the process well ahead of time to ensure that all materials are submitted by the deadline.

I am finishing up another degree now; should I wait to send final transcripts?

No. The Graduate Committee will only review applications after all materials have been received, including transcripts. Applicants with in-progress degrees will be asked for another final transcript showing proof of degree if they are accepted.

Do my letters of recommendation have to come from a faculty member or a history professor?

We strongly encourage that all letters of recommendation come from faculty members, preferably in history. You should ask those professors who know your work best to write for you. We will accept recommendations from other referees, such as employers, but you should understand that these are less useful to the committee when evaluating an application and that most recommendations that we receive come from the applicant’s professors.

Should I waive my right to see my letters of recommendation?

Yes. In general, graduate programs prefer confidential letters because it displays more confidence on the part of the applicant if they have waived their rights to see the contents of the letter.

What kinds of information should be in my statement of purpose?

The statement of purpose can be the most important document in your application because it may say more about you as a person and a potential graduate student than test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, or even your writing sample can. Statements of purpose should explain why you want to pursue graduate school in history (briefly – you should not spend more than a few sentences on autobiography), your background in the field, specific courses or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your interests and qualifications, and an explanation of why you have chosen UA including which professors you hope to work with.

For more information, see our advice on how to write a compelling statement of purpose.

How long should my writing sample be? What form should it take?

There are no minimum or maximum page requirement for writing samples. However, a strong writing sample will showcase your skills as a potential graduate student in history and should, therefore, reflect your experience working with both primary sources and secondary scholarship. Typical writing samples range between 15 and 30 pages. Writing samples should include all the appropriate scholarly apparatus (full footnotes etc). If you are sending a part of your senior thesis, or MA thesis as your sample, it is advisable to include a cover sheet that puts your chosen sample in the context of the larger work.

How do I know when you’ve received all of my materials?

You can check the status of your application through

Part of my application (GRE scores, writing sample, transcripts, etc.) is going to be late. Can I still be considered for admission?

The Graduate Committee reviews all completed files. Applications completed by the deadline will be considered first, and several university fellowships require the department to make decisions on competitive nominations in January.

Do I need to apply separately for fellowship or assistantships?

There is no separate form required to be considered for fellowships, assistantships or other university-sponsored financial aid. Decisions are based on merit and determined based on information in the application.

When can I expect to hear a decision about my application?

Under normal circumstances, the Graduate Committee in the history department reviews applications in January. Applicants will be contacted with a decision about admission in February.