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Washington State University
History | The Application Process

Applying For Graduate School

The department of history is passionate about helping prospective students work through the admissions process by offering advice and guidance. Applying for graduate school includes contacting potential advisors, contacting references, and keeping in touch with the department’s program coordinator.

On the right is a timeline that outlines the steps for applying to graduate school.

The first step in applying to graduate school is to identify potential faculty mentors and introduce yourself to them! You can browse our history faculty link by clicking here. A faculty mentor will serve as the chair of your graduate committee and will offer guidance throughout your program. Also known as a graduate advisor, you should choose a faculty mentor who is actively researching topics that are similar to your fields of interest. When you contact potential advisors it is a good idea to ask if they are currently accepting new students.

The next step in the process is to contact academic references. It is important that you contact professors and faculty whom you have worked with in your prior programs to inquire about their ability to provide a letter of recommendation. Contacting these individuals prior to requesting a letter of recommendation allows you the chance to catch up with your letter writer and inform them of your plans for graduate school. You will need three letters of recommendation. Furthermore, this gives the potential recommender an opportunity to let you know they are too busy or unavailable due to prior commitments.

After contacting potential advisors and references you should begin completing your application for admission. Please apply to Washington State University through the Graduate School portal, which can be found here. The application will require you to provide information about your current or most recent program, a writing sample, a list of potential recommenders, a curriculum vitae or resume, a statement of purpose that explores your interest in the program and professional goals, and transcripts from all previously attended institutions. Once you have completed the application you should contact the Program Coordinator for the department of history, whose information can be found here. Please let the Program Coordinator know that you have completed your application and attach the Language Background Form and your Preferred Fields of Study Form (the indicated professor and topic should match the fields identified on your official application).

Once you have completed the application and contacted the Program Coordinator you should reach out to the individuals you identified as “recommenders” on your formal application. Washington State University will send a “Request for Letter of Recommendation” to these individuals, so you will not directly play a role in receiving or submitting the letters – this process is automated. You should however, remain in contact with these individuals to be sure that they have received the request and submitted their letter of recommendation for you prior to the deadline. The department may allow for letters to come in after the application deadline IF we are aware of a reasonable delay due to a recommender traveling or reporting technical difficulties.

Finally, the Department of History begins reviewing graduate applications towards the end of January. This process will run through February and acceptance letters and assistant-ship offers usually go out around the middle of March. Throughout the review process the Program Coordinator may contact you with questions or concerns regarding your application. Please monitor your email throughout the review window to be sure we are not in need of supplemental information.

The Evaluation Process

Incomplete applications will not be evaluated. Once your file is complete, it will be reviewed by the Department of History’s Graduate Studies Committee.

Grounds for not admitting applicants are diverse. Even candidates with strong academic records may be rejected if no faculty member is available in the field in which the student is applying, or there may be no room for additional qualified students in a particular field. The prospective major professor or the Graduate Studies Committee may consider an applicant academically noncompetitive, inadequately prepared, lacking adequate facility in the English language, or possessing an insufficient foreign language background.

Your statement of purpose will be closely scrutinized by a prospective major professor and members of the Graduate Studies Committee. You should pay careful attention when drafting your statement to see that it is a cogent and careful representation of the reasons for pursuing studies in a particular field of history. The guidelines include advice on writing your statement of purpose, which you are encouraged to consult (see Writing Your Statement of Purpose).

The Graduate School will notify new applicants of their admission to the graduate program in history. If you are offered admission please feel free to contact your new advisor and let them know! You may also contact the Program Coordinator for more information about local housing, community resources, and regional attractions.