FAQs for the PhD in History

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process

What is the deadline for applying to the program?

January 15.


Can I start the program in any semester?

No, only in the fall semester.


Are graduate assistantships available?

Yes, full-time students are eligible for graduate teaching and research assistantships. The assistantships pay your tuition (whether you are in-state or out-of-state) and also pay you a stipend, which in 2021-2022 is at least $19,000 for the year.


Do you have any courses offered at any other GMU campuses?

Yes, occasionally a graduate course is offered at the Mason Square campus, but most are offered only at the Fairfax campus.


What should I include in my goals statement?

A statement of the purpose for pursuing graduate study in your chosen major should include academic objectives, professional and research interests, and career goals. Also, you should indicate any relevant qualifications such as collegiate, professional, research, and community activities and any other substantial accomplishments that are not mentioned on the application form. Most important of all, however, your statement should spell out which particular area in which you wish to pursue dissertation research (U.S. military history, early modern French history, early American history, for example). You should indicate as clearly as you can any specific topics you have in mind for dissertation research, as well as indicate which faculty members in our department might be best suited to supervise a dissertation in your chosen area of interest.


Is a PhD required for teaching at the community college level?



How do I set up a campus visit?

To schedule a campus tour, please see the following: https://www.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/visit-explore


As a prospective student, may I meet with the Graduate Director?

Yes. To make an appointment with the Graduate Director, Dr. Suzanne Smith, write to smisuze@gmu.edu.


Where do I park on the GMU campus when I visit?

In the Mason Pond Parking Deck on campus.


Where is the graduate director's office?

In Horizon Hall, Room 3179.


Application questions?

Contact Graduate Coordinator, Lea Burgess, at lburges5@gmu.edu . 


Program Requirements
Is there a foreign language requirement?

Students for whom a reading knowledge of particular foreign languages is necessary for their dissertation research are expected to be proficient in those languages. This would include virtually all students studying European or world history. Students whose dissertation research is conducted entirely from materials in English do not have a foreign language requirement. Please note, however, that even some areas in U.S. history -- borderlands, Native American history, and immigration history, for just the most obvious examples -- may require extensive foreign language skills.


Do I have to have a master's degree in history to apply to the program?



Do I need to submit GRE scores?

GRE scores are optional (verbal and writing scores are the only parts we consider).


Can I work part-time or even full-time while in the program?

Yes, unless you have a Graduate Teaching or Graduate Research Assistantship.


How many years will it take to complete my degree?

This depends entirely on your own individual progress. According to statistics kept by the American Historical Association, it can take anywhere from six to nine years to complete a doctoral dissertation in history. George Mason University allows students six years to advance to candidacy and nine years to complete the dissertation from the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student.


How many credits earned from my master's degree may be counted toward reducing the total number (72) of PhD credits?

The maximum number of MA credits that may be counted toward the PhD requirements is 30. Please consult with the graduate director, however, who must approve all such credits. And in cases where the coursework is not listed on the transcript as History (American Studies or Military Studies, for example), you will normally need to provide a course syllabus before any evaluation can be made. Ultimately, however, the number of MA credits actually applied to your PhD requirements will also depend on how you define your major and minor fields. If all your MA coursework was in European history, for example, and your major and minor fields in the PhD program are in American history, then none of that MA coursework will count toward your PhD requirements. Dr. Smith will not make any such decisions until after students have been admitted to the program.