Admissions FAQ

How many applications do you receive?

We generally receive between 350 and 400 applications for an incoming class of approximately 17. We suspended admissions for the 2012-13 academic year, due to unprecedented success in recruiting the 2011-12 incoming class. We will resume accepting admissions applications in September 2012 for the incoming 2013-14 cohort and anticipate admitting 10 students.

May I visit before applying to the program?

You are welcome to visit the History Department at any time. Please consult the lists of faculty and students on our website and correspond directly with those who work in areas of interest to you. Visitors are expected to make their own arrangements with faculty and students. Department staff are generally not available to assist with visits. 

Do you accept students for the winter term?

No. The department accepts students for the Fall term only. All application materials must reach the department by December 1 of the year before. This is a firm deadline.

Would a History MA make my file more competitive?

Many of the students who apply to our doctoral program have master's degrees, often -- but not always --  in history. A master's degree demonstrates ability to conduct original research and can therefore be attractive to the professors reviewing your file. In the last class to enter our PhD program, 61% of the students had a master's.

I have applied before. Do I need to complete the entire application again?

You will need to submit another online application and pay the fee again. Some portions of your application may be reused (for example, transcripts) but you should update your Academic Statement of Purpose and ask your recommenders to update their letters. We can use your GRE scores from before (even if they are older than the five-year maximum), but if you took the TOEFL and your scores will be older than two years by the time you submit your application, you will need to re-take the exam. Generally, second applications are more successful when materials have been updated.

Must my official transcripts for U-M come directly from my college?

No. You may mail original, official transcripts in envelopes sealed by your college registrar.

Should I submit transcripts from a community college?

It is not necessary to include community college transcripts, even if you have earned an A.A. there.

How do I upload a transcript to the online application so it is the right size?

Scan a copy of your transcript at a maximum resolution of 300dpi for black and white documents and 200dpi for color documents. Be sure to scan and upload both sides of the transcript.

What happens if my letters or test scores arrive after the December 1 deadline?

The History Department begins processing admissions files soon after the Dec. 1 deadline and your letters and test scores should have been received by that date. Although the online systems will continue to accept letters and test scores after the application has been turned off; everything must be received no later than mid-December in order to guarantee inclusion in your file for review by our faculty.

We strongly advise you to monitor receipt of your test scores and letters through the online systems. Although there is often time to add missing materials to an incomplete file before it goes to the faculty for review, we can make no guarantees after mid-December due to processes and deadlines that are out of our control.

Is it possible to be accepted into your program without taking the GRE or TOEFL?

No. All US and Canadian students must take the GRE and, generally, international students take the TOEFL. The IELTS and MELAB are also acceptable tests. International students who have received (or will receive) a degree from a university with English as the exclusive language of instruction are exempt from the TOEFL requirement, but must take the GRE.

May I use two smaller writing samples instead of one large one?

Yes, you may upload two short writing samples as long as, together, they don’t exceed our 35-page limit. Combine them into one document for the upload and include a cover page explaining what you have done.

Who makes the decision about my application?

The U-M History Department has a large faculty, most of whom participate directly in the admissions process including reading files and making recommendations for admissions. Generally, the faculty members in your area of interest will be the ones to review your file. All files are reviewed by multiple individuals and we do not employ filters (by GPA, GRE scores, etc.).

If accepted, can I defer enrollment?

In general, deferments are discouraged. Deferment decisions are made on a case by case basis. Applicants must submit a written request to the Admissions Committee explaining why they’d like to defer. The committee will evaluate the request and the student will be notified as quickly as possible.

What role does Rackham have in the admissions process?

All applicants admitted to the History PhD program are students of Rackham Graduate School and the College of Literature, Science and Arts (LSA). Rackham plays a key role in the administration of the admissions process. The online application is managed by Rackham as is the interface between the vendor handling the application and the information technology staff at the university. In addition, Rackham analyzes all transcripts and certifies the information on them including the GPA. Rackham sets many of the standards applied to admissions including the minimum requirements and level of required English proficiency. Rackham prepares the I-20 documentation for international students. For a complete picture, please review Rackham’s website.

How will I know if my application and supporting documents have been received?

When you submit your online application and pay the application fee, Rackham will contact you with instructions for checking the status of your registration materials via the online system. That way you will be able to verify the data submitted, update contact information, view what test scores and transcripts have been received by Rackham, accept or decline an offer of admission, and pay an enrollment deposit. Since all of your documents will be uploaded to the online application, the only remaining items you should have to track are letters. To check on letters being submitted online you should consult the CollegeNet website.

My GRE scores weren’t very high. Should I bother to apply?

The History Department doesn't have a minimum GRE score. Most of our applicants' scores fall in the range of 650 to 750 for verbal on the old GRE scale or 163 to 169 on the new scale. Most of our applicant writing scores are 5.5 to 6.0. However, despite all this talk about scores, the GRE is only one aspect of your application. We look at the entire application and many variables besides test scores come into play. Your academic statement of purpose, writing sample, and letters of support will receive particular attention from the faculty reviewing your file.

What is the average GPA of your admitted students?

The average bachelor's GPA for our admitted students is 3.71. Over half of the students who come to our program have an MA, usually in History. The average master's GPA for our admitted students is 3.87.

Is foreign language proficiency a requirement for admission?

Although foreign language proficiency is not a requirement for admission, previous training in a language relevant to one’s major field is highly desirable, and in some cases essential to admission.

I satisfied a language requirement for my MA. Will this count at U-M?

Yes, by providing documented proof that you have satisfied a language requirement, similar to our own and administer in similar ways, for a Master’s degree, you have established your ability to read a foreign language. Language courses taken during a BA program are not eligible for satisfying the language requirement.