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This Blog is a collection of messages we have sent in response to inquiries on a number of issues, as well as selections from announcements and other resources. It constitutes a FAQ page for many elements of the Graduate Program in History at Loyola University Chicago. If you have any questions, first carefully consult the web site for the program. Then, look and search these posts (via site search and labels). If you still have questions about details, first contact the Graduate Program Secretary, Lillian Hardison ( If you have particular questions about the Public History program, contact Professor Ted Karamanski ( All best!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ph.D Program Questions

I am considering applying to your PhD program in History with a concentration in United States History. I have a few questions about your program:

1. What are the most important things you look for in an applicant? What is the average graduate GPA and GRE score of people accepted into the program? What is the range of these scores for students you accept? How much do undergraduate grades factor into the decision? What is your overall acceptance rate?

First, I want to let you know that our doctoral program is largely geared toward students working in U.S. history who focus on urban history or social/cultural history.  So our successful applicants usually work in these areas.  We also take seriously students who work in women and gender history, race/ethnicity and/or the Atlantic world.  These are our areas of strength and we generally look for applicants who work in these areas.
When we judge an applicant's file, we generally put the most emphasis on the writing sample.  We like to see a research paper that uses primary sources to make an original argument.  The paper should be at least 20/25 pages in length.  It is fine to send an entire M.A. thesis (applicants often do).  We use the writing sample to evaluate an applicant's ability to do original research and make historical arguments.  We also put a lot emphasis on the personal statement and like to see that students are aware of our department strengths and have a sense of how their own scholarly interests fit with our strengths.  Letters of recommendation are also important.  Lastly, grades do matter and we would certainly want students with an MA to have at least a B+ cumulative average and would prefer that it be higher.   Undergraduate grades are less important since we know that students are sometimes late bloomers.  GRE scores are important but not as important as the other parts of the application.  We have accepted students with less than stellar GREs if the other elements of the application package are strong.  The quantitative score is not really important.  Don't worry about it.  For the verbal score, we like to see something that is in the 600s or 700s.  We like to see an analytical score that is 4 or better.    The scoring system for the GREs is about to change but you can use this general framework to get a sense of what we expect.  I don't have exact figure for our acceptance rates.  But I can tell you this: we accept six doctoral students a year into our program and we get about sixty applicants a year for the program.  So it is competitive.

2. Are there any pre-requisite courses?

There are not pre-requisites.  If  you have a MA in history, you are fine.

3.  I would be interested in doing GIS or Paleography for my second research tool.  Do I need to have experience in either of these to enter the program?  How many courses in these subjects are needed to fulfill the research tool requirement?

We require two research tool for the doctorate.  GIS and paleography are both acceptable.  A course in either would allow you to meet the tool requirement as long as you get a B or better.  We also have a foreign language test and variety of foreign language classes.  Students can take GIS at Loyola or somewhere else.  Paleography is not regularly offered at Loyola but could be taken elsewhere and used for the requirement. 

3. What kind of funding do you offer students? Do you offer funding for every student you accept into the program?   Can the funding be renewed each year, or do students need to re-apply for it?

 Our funding comes in the form of 5 year TAships.  If you were offered this funding, you would be given a full tuition scholarship and a stipend of $1x,000 a year and health insurance too.  This would be good for 5 years as long as you were in good academic standing (a cumulative GPA of B+ or better).  We have a variety of fellowships that students apply for after their five years of funding are up.  These usually help students finish up while they are writing the dissertation.  We try to fund all six people that we admit.

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