HOS Graduate Admissions

Program Length: 5 years (Ph.D. only)

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Visit the Graduate School's webpage to apply online. All application materials must be submitted/uploaded to the online application by the deadline of December 1. Note: When completing the online application, if you are applying to the Program in History of Science, please select ‘Program in History of Science’ as the department. If you encounter any trouble with the online application, contact the Graduate Admissions Office.

HOS-Specific Requirements

Please note that although the History of Science Program is located within the History Department, these programs have separate admissions processes. History of Science applicants are required to submit a writing sample, which should demonstrate your ability to do research using primary sources in the language of your field. It could be a term paper, essay, journal article or short master’s thesis, normally, not more than 25 to 35 pages.

Read more about the History Department’s graduate program.

Important Information

Financial Support

All admitted graduate students receive full tuition, health plan coverage, and monthly stipend. Students are not required to teach. However, teaching opportunities are available post-generals.

Courses and Seminars

During their first two years, students pursue a pattern of courses, seminars, and independent work designed to prepare them for the General Examination, to satisfy their language and research paper requirements, and to train them in the research techniques of professional scholarship. Program students typically take three courses during each of their first three semesters. Of these, at least one course each semester should be a graduate seminar in history of science. No later than the second semester, at least one course each term should be in other areas of history. In their fourth semester, students usually take only two courses, so that they may have time to complete any unmet requirements and to prepare for the General Examination, which is ordinarily taken at the end of the second year.

Language Exams

All Program students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two major foreign languages pertinent to their research in the history of science. By University statute, the language requirement must be met before the student takes their General Examination or is admitted to a third year of graduate study.

Writing Requirement

Students are required to write two research papers based on primary sources before sitting for the general examination. Students often write one of these research papers in the context of a graduate seminar, and another based on independent research. Usually at least one involves close analysis of primary scientific or technical texts.

According to the History Department guidelines, first-year students who have not submitted their first research paper by June 15 will not be advanced to enrollment for a second year.

General Examination

The General Examination, normally taken at the end of the second year of study, consists of written and oral examinations in:

  1. a major field in the history of science;
  2. a minor field in another area of history; and
  3. a third field, such as one of the following options:
    • “general” history of science-traditionally known as “Plato to NATO”;
    • a second special field in the history of science;
    • a second field in another area of history; or
    • a field in some related subject, e.g., philosophy of science, anthropology of science, or some branch of science or mathematics.

Prospectus, Dissertation, Final Public Oral Exam

By December 1 of their third year of enrollment, each student is required to submit a detailed dissertation prospectus and outline for faculty approval; the deadline for students who take the general examination at a time other than May of the second year will be arranged in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. To facilitate this requirement, the Department of History offers two important sources of summer support. In the summer following a student's first year, funds are available for travel to archives to explore possible materials on which to base a dissertation prospectus. Following successful completion of the general exams, normally in the second year, students are eligible to participate in a summer seminar aimed at preparation of the dissertation prospectus. The seminar meets every week for eight weeks and provides the student's summer stipend.

By the beginning of the fourth year, the student should provide the dissertation adviser with at least one draft chapter for criticism and revision. As the dissertation nears completion, the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the student, names first and second readers in addition to the adviser. A third reader, from outside the department or outside the University, will also be named. In accordance with the regulations of the History Department and the University, only the first reader may call for major revisions in the dissertation once the adviser decides it is acceptable. When the adviser and the first reader are satisfied that the dissertation merits the Ph.D. degree, the student arranges for submitting copies to the other readers. At that point, the second and third readers may make suggestions for further improvements, but cannot require such improvements to be made before the dissertation is presented for public scrutiny. The adviser and each of the official readers will prepare a written evaluation of the dissertation and submit a formal recommendation as to its acceptability. These evaluations will be made available to the doctoral candidate. Upon receipt of the recommendations and a request from the Director of Graduate Studies for History of Science, the Graduate School authorizes a Final Public Oral Examination, at which the student defends the dissertation.