Your complete guide to a PhD in History

Everything you need to know about studying a PhD in History

part of Humanities

History is the study of past events, their consequences and impact on modern societies. It aims to answer questions like: What are the most significant episodes in our past? What were the causes or chain of events behind them? How has our social, economic, and political landscape changed throughout centuries?

Academically, History is often split into different courses or subdisciplines, which are associated with a certain period, country, or subject. Here are a few examples: Economic History, Political History, Cultural History, Women’s History, Ancient History, Contemporary History, Indigenous Studies, Western Civilisation, and others.

A typical History curriculum includes classes in Historical Approaches and Methods, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, Major Wars, History of Women, Social Movements, Modern History, Medieval Europe, Politics and Society, Heritage, etc.

People who study History want to know where we come from in order to grasp what the future might look like. Analysing the past is important because trends and events have a natural tendency to repeat themselves. As the old saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

History graduates can find employment as historic buildings/conservation officers, museum/gallery curators, archaeologists, broadcast journalists or academic librarians.

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View all PhDs in History. Keep in mind you can also study an online PhDs in History.

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Best Universities for History on PhDPortal

Universities Location TopUniversities Ranking (2018)
Harvard University Cambridge, United States 1
University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom 2
University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom 3
Stanford University Stanford, United States 4
University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, United States 5
Yale University New Haven, United States 6
London School of Economics and Political Science London, United Kingdom 7
Princeton University Princeton, United States 8
Columbia University New York City, United States 9
University of Chicago Chicago, United States 10
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, United States 11
University of Toronto Pickering, Canada 12
University of Wisconsin Madison Madison, United States 13
Australian National University Canberra, Australia 14
UCL London, United Kingdom 15
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, United States 16
Leiden University Leiden, Netherlands 17
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, United States 18
King's College London London, United Kingdom 19
The University of Tokyo Tokyo, Japan 20
University of Sydney Sydney, Australia 21
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, United States 22
The University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, United Kingdom 23
University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada 23
Humboldt University Berlin Berlin, Germany 25
Duke University Durham, United States 26
University of Texas at Austin Austin, United States 27
Melbourne Business School Melbourne, Australia 28
Cornell University Ithaca, United States 29
The University of Manchester Manchester, United Kingdom 29
University of Warwick Coventry, United Kingdom 31
National University of Singapore Singapore, Singapore 32
Kyoto University Kyoto, Japan 33
New York University New York City, United States 34
McGill University Montréal, Canada 35
Panthéon-Sorbonne University Paris, France 36
Durham University Durham, United Kingdom 37
University of Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands 38
SOAS University of London London, United Kingdom 39
Monash University Clayton, Australia 40
Freie Universität Berlin Berlin Steglitz, Germany 41
Peking University Beijing, China 42
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, United States 42
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, United States 44
Northwestern University Evanston, United States 45
Utrecht University Utrecht, Netherlands 46
Seoul National University Anyang, South Korea 47
Queen Mary University of London London, United Kingdom 48
Brown University Providence, United States 49
Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich München, Germany 50
Birkbeck, University of London London, United Kingdom 101
Boston University Boston, United States 101
California Institute of Technology - Caltech Pasadena, United States 101
Cardiff University Cardiff, United Kingdom 101
Central European University (CEU) Vienna, Austria 101
Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) Paris, France 101
Emory University Atlanta, United States 101
European University Institute Florence, Italy 101
University of Göttingen Göttingen, Germany 101
Keio University Minato, Japan 101
La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia 101
Lund University Lund, Sweden 101
McMaster University Hamilton, Canada 101
Nanyang Technological University Singapore, Singapore 101
National Taiwan University Taipei, Taiwan 101
Queen's University Kingston, Canada 101
Queen's University Belfast Belfast, United Kingdom 101
Rutgers University New Brunswick, United States 101
Saint-Petersburg University Saint Petersburg, Russia 101
Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv Yaffo, Israel 101
The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shatin, Hong Kong (SAR) 101
The City University of New York New York City, United States 101
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel 101
Universidade Nova de Lisboa Lisbon, Portugal 101
UCLouvain Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium 101
University of Adelaide Adelaide, Australia 101
University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada 101
Frankfurt University of Applied Science Frankfurt am Main, Germany 101
The University of Arizona Tucson, United States 101
University of Barcelona Barcelona, Spain 101
University of California, Irvine Extension Irvine, United States 101
University of Cape Town Cape Town, South Africa 101
University of Chile Lo Prado, Chile 101
University of Florence Florence, Italy 101
University of Freiburg Freiburg, Germany 101
University of Geneva Genève, Switzerland 101
University of Hamburg Hamburg, Germany 101
University of Maryland College Park, United States 101
University of Montreal Montréal, Canada 101
University of Nottingham Nottingham, United Kingdom 101
University of Oslo Oslo, Norway 101
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, United States 101
University of Southampton Southampton, United Kingdom 101
University of Southern California Los Angeles, United States 101
University of Sussex Brighton, United Kingdom 101
University of Zurich Zürich, Switzerland 101
Victoria University of Wellington Wellington, New Zealand 101
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands 101
York University Toronto, Canada 101
Aix-Marseille University Marseille, France 151
Arizona State University Tempe, United States 151
Autonomous University of Barcelona Barcelona, Spain 151
Autonomous University of Madrid Alcobendas, Spain 151
Bielefeld University Bielefeld, Germany 151
Boston College Newton, United States 151
Charles University Prague, Czech Republic 151
Dalhousie University Halifax, Canada 151
George Washington University Washington, D. C., United States 151
Goldsmiths, University of London London, United Kingdom 151
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR) 151
Institute for European Studies - Universite libre de Bruxelles Brussels, Belgium 151
Korea University Seoul, South Korea 151
Maastricht University Maastricht, Netherlands 151
Macquarie University Sydney, Australia 151
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) Athens, Greece 151
HSE University Moscow, Russia 151
Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom 151
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Villa Presidente Frei, Ñuñoa, Santiago, Chile, Chile 151
Simon Fraser University Burnaby, Canada 151
Stockholm University Stockholm, Sweden 151
Texas A&M University College Station, United States 151
The University of Milan Sesto San Giovanni, Italy 151
Trinity College Dublin Dublin, Ireland 151
UNICAMP - University of Campinas Campinas, Brazil 151
University of Münster Münster, Germany 151
University of Aberdeen Aberdeen, United Kingdom 151
University of Basel Basel, Switzerland 151
University of Bergen Bergen, Norway 151
University of Bonn Bonn, Germany 151
University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, United States 151
University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, United States 151
University of Florida Gainesville, United States 151
University of Kent Canterbury, United Kingdom 151
University of Leicester Leicester, United Kingdom 151
University of Lisbon Lisbon, Portugal 151
University of Liverpool Liverpool, United Kingdom 151
University of Padua Padua, Italy 151
University of Reading Reading, United Kingdom 151
University of Seville Sevilla, Spain 151
University of the Andes Bogotá, Colombia 151
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Johannesburg, South Africa 151
University of Western Ontario London, Canada 151
University Toulouse - Jean Jaurès Toulouse, France 151
Vanderbilt University Nashville, United States 151
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) Brussels, Belgium 151
Washington University in St. Louis Saint Louis, United States 151
Yonsei University Seoul, South Korea 151
Aarhus University Aarhus, Denmark 51
Bologna Business School Bologna, Italy 51
Erasmus University Rotterdam Rotterdam, Netherlands 51
Fudan University Shanghai, China 51
Georgetown University Washington, D. C., United States 51
Ghent University Ledeberg, Belgium 51
Indiana University Bloomington Bloomington, United States 51
KU Leuven Brussels, Belgium 51
Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) Moscow, Russia 51
Michigan State University East Lansing, United States 51
National Autonomous University of Mexico Coyoacán, Mexico 51
The Ohio State University Upper Arlington, United States 51
Pennsylvania State University State College, United States 51
Royal Holloway University of London London, United Kingdom 51
Sapienza University of Rome Roma, Italy 51
Sciences Po Paris, France 51
The University of Exeter Exeter, United Kingdom 51
The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR) 51
The University of Western Australia Perth, Australia 51
Tsinghua University Beijing, China 51
Complutense University of Madrid Madrid, Spain 51
Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) Paris, France 51
University College Dublin Dublin, Ireland 51
University of Auckland Auckland, New Zealand 51
University of Birmingham Birmingham, United Kingdom 51
University of Bristol Bristol, United Kingdom 51
University of Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina 51
University of California, Davis Davis, United States 51
University of California, San Diego San Diego, United States 51
University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark 51
University of Glasgow Glasgow, United Kingdom 51
University of Groningen Groningen, Netherlands 51
Heidelberg University Heidelberg, Germany 51
University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland 51
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Urbana, United States 51
University of Leeds Leeds, United Kingdom 51
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, United States 51
University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia 51
University of Notre Dame South Bend, United States 51
University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand 51
University of Queensland Saint Lucia, Australia 51
University of Sao Paulo São Paulo, Brazil 51
University of Sheffield Sheffield, United Kingdom 51
University of St Andrews St Andrews, United Kingdom 51
University of Tübingen Tübingen, Germany 51
University of Vienna Vienna, Austria 51
University of Virginia Charlottesville, United States 51
University of Washington Seattle, United States 51
University of York York, United Kingdom 51
Uppsala University Uppsala, Sweden 51
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