Sculptures of Egyptian rulers
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

About the Program

Explore the past and prepare for the future with a PhD in History from Case Western Reserve University. There are three ways to pursue your doctorate through our Department of History: our track in the History of Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine (STEM), which is one of the oldest and most distinguished programs of this type in the country; our new Social Justice History track, which focuses on the origins of oppression and the history of struggles to create a more just world; and our general PhD in History, which enables you to specialize in any geographical, temporal, or topical area of the past covered by department faculty. No matter which track you choose, you’ll be prepared to pursue a career in a variety of fields—including academia, public history, museum work, secondary-school education, and digital humanities.

What to Expect

Most of our students receive comprehensive five-year financial aid packages, with full tuition remissions and annual stipends. Once enrolled, your PhD coursework will begin with a few foundational seminars required of all our graduate students, including Historiography, Method, and Theory; Comparative History; and Historical Research and Writing. If you’re pursuing the STEM or Social Justice History tracks, you’ll focus on additional specialized courses.

You’ll also have opportunities to take seminars and independent-study courses germane to your particular research interests, sometimes with faculty in other academic departments or professional schools at CWRU. And, because we only admit a very small number of graduate students per year, seminars are small and intensive, with every student receiving considerable individualized attention and support from faculty members. 

Once you’ve established mastery of two major fields and two minor fields of study, you’ll pursue a dissertation based on intensive original research on a topic of your choosing. 

Our partnership with the nearby Western Reserve Historical Society provides you with an avenue to develop a dissertation on Cleveland or Ohio history.

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Beyond the Classroom

If you’re pursuing our Social Justice History track, you’ll take our practicum in which you will apply the concepts and methods of social justice history to a contemporary real-world problem. You’ll work with a faculty mentor to find an organization working against some form of oppression (or seeking to advance some aspect of social justice)—and, for one semester, you’ll engage with its staff  to analyze the origins of the organization (or the larger movement of which it is a part).

By the Numbers


tuition coverage, including a stipend, available to a select number of students


university in the country, U.S. News & World Report


PhD track options

Admission Inscription

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

The application process requires:

  • Online application, including a letter or intent or statement of objectives as well as a writing sample and a short essay
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (either already complete, or will be complete before you enroll)
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Current resume/CV
  • Test scores for GRE (optional)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • International applicants: Results of TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE

Contact Us

Headshot of Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
History Department, Director of Graduate Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

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