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Each year, we admit 6 to 8 students into the doctoral program. Applications for graduate admission are handled through the Graduate School. All prospective students must apply online.

If you have any questions about the process, see FAQ below, and feel free to call or email us with further questions: the Graduate School (631-632-4723), the History Department Graduate Coordinator (631-632-7490), or our Director of Graduate Studies.

Completed doctoral program applications for admission and financial assistance, along with all required supporting material, must be postmarked/submitted/received by January 9. Students are admitted in the spring for study beginning in the fall. Occasionally students are admitted for part-time study, though we have found that a high percentage of students who pursue doctoral study on a part-time basis do not complete the program.

We expect all applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree in history or a degree in a closely related field with a substantial amount of coursework in history and a strong record of undergraduate achievement. In special cases, students who do not have a bachelor's degree in history or whose GPA does not meet the requirements stated above may be admitted on a provisional basis for M.A. study only.

Applicants are also required to submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The History subject test is not required. It is advisable, especially for financial aid applicants, to take the GRE no later than October to insure that the review of application materials is not delayed. Applicants may also wish to include photocopies of GRE score report (in addition to having the official score reported to the University).

Students whose first language is not English must submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Admissions decisions are based primarily upon the admissions committee's estimation of the student's potential for scholarly achievement and the ability of the Stony Brook faculty to support the student in his or her intended field of scholarly study. These decisions are based upon:

—The applicant's undergraduate record

—Letters of recommendation that describe the applicant's achievements and potential for intellectual growth

—A sample of written work (such as a research paper submitted for an undergraduate class or a master's thesis) that illustrates the applicant's capacity for research, analysis, creative thought, and writing skills

—GRE Scores

—A statement of purpose describing the intended field of study, the insights or experiences that lay behind the decision to specialize in this area, and the kinds of questions which the applicant hopes to explore; this statement should be as specific as possible, and applicants are encouraged to contact the professor(s) with whom they hope to work before submitting the application


Many graduate students are funded through teaching assistantships. The History Department receives approximately twenty-five teaching assistantships per year from various sources; it also has a small number of graduate assistantships. Many full-time graduate students receive full tuition waivers. In addition, the Department has available to it a series of Presidential Fellowships, created by the president of the university, to be used to recruit promising new doctoral students. The Department also has an endowed fellowship, known as the Evan Frankel Foundation Fellowship, that is given each year to an outstanding first year student in the doctoral program and continues for four years. The Gardiner Graduate Fellowship awards funding to a graduate student researching early American history or subjects related to aspects of American history in which the Gardiner family played an important role—principally colonial American history and the history of the greater New York region.

Everyone who applies is automatically considered for financial assistance from the History Department, usually in the form of a Teaching Assistantship/Tuition Scholarship. There are no special forms to fill out for Departmental support.

Entering graduate students in history may also be nominated by the admissions committee to compete for university-sponsored awards, namely Graduate Council Fellowships and Turner Fellowships. If you wish to be considered for either of these financial opportunities, you will need to have your application completed before January 1. Students wishing to be considered for these awards must be U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents. Turner Fellows must self-identify as either African American, Native American, or Hispanic on their application.

U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents are also eligible for other forms of financial aid, which are applied for via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form

Most residents of New York are also eligible for the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).


When is the application deadline?

Doctoral program applications must be submitted and all supplemental material must arrive no later than January 9 for Fall admission. Master's program applications must be submitted and all supplemental material must arrive no later than April 1 for Fall admission.

How should I submit my application?

Your application must be submitted online through the Graduate School.

What if I have a technical problem with my online application? 

Please do not call the History Department. We do not have access to the application system. Please click the help link on the login page. Please keep in mind that if you leave applying to the last possible moment, and then have technical difficulties, you may not be able to get assistance in a timely manner. The computer system may accept a late application, but in that case the Department has the right to reject it. The application fee is not refundable.

Where do I send my supporting materials?

Please do not use email or fax. Post your supporting materials directly to the Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of History via a ground service such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS. We suggest that you send one large envelope. It is not necessary to send your paperwork in fancy bindings. If they are too bulky, we may have to remove them from the binding in order to fit in our file cabinets. Do not mail anything to the Graduate School. 

What should I include?

—GRE and TOEFL scores: Please mail paper copies if you have them, and enter your scores on the online application in addition to having the official scores reported to the University. We will verify them electronically.

—Transcripts: Have your school(s) send your transcripts to you. Do not open the envelopes. We need two (2) sealed official copies of each transcript. Photocopies are not acceptable. We know that procuring transcripts from overseas schools can be difficult, but this is not a requirement that can be waived. We will need transcripts, in English, with the degree posted for every school you attended. If your school does not offer English transcripts, we will need an official (notarized) translation. Some overseas documents will need to be evaluated by World Educational Services.

—Confidential letters of recommendation (if not completed online): Have references send their letters to you. Do not open the envelopes. We need two (2) sealed originals of each letter. 

—Statement of purpose (including name and degree sought).

—Writing sample such as a research paper submitted for an undergraduate class, or a master's thesis.

What sort of writing samples should I send?

Submit essays in historical research, analysis, or criticism that demonstrate your ability to carry out scholarly work in the discipline. The papers, typically generated in prior course work, should be at least ten pages in length and demonstrate knowledge of proper bibliographic citation practices (your paper must contain a bibliography). Papers should be paginated. on at least the front cover. Pages should be paginated. Please send copies (not the originals).

What if I don't have any papers in English?

The requirement still applies, meaning you must translate your paper(s). We know this is asking a lot, but it is absolutely essential to the admissions process.

Why do you require two originals of official documents? 

One set of originals is for the Graduate School and the other is for the History Department. This is part of being a large university.

How do I know if you received my package?

Please send your items via a service that provides tracking. The sheer volume of mail we receive at this time of year does not permit us to individually acknowledge every item of mail received. We ask that you please do not call and ask us if we received your package. We are simply too understaffed to answer such calls. Please also understand that if you send a package via the USPS, any tracking information received will tell you when it arrived in the Campus Mail Room, not when the History Department received it.

Who has to take the TOEFL exam?

The University categorizes people into three language categories:

• Native speakers
• Primary speakers (with social fluency)
• Non-native speakers

Everyone in the third category must take the exam. There is no such thing as an "automatic" TOEFL waiver for any student whose native/primary language is something other than English. Intentional misrepresentation by a student of his/her native/primary language is academic dishonesty, and is grounds for dismissal from the University. Minimum scores are 213 for computer-based tests, 550 for paper-based tests, and 90 for Internet-based tests. Our institution code for the TOEFL exam is is 2548.

All doctoral (Ph.D.) students who are not native/primary speakers of English must also take a speak test upon arrival at the University. Depending on the result of this test, you may have to take ESL classes.

Who has to take the GRE?

Anyone and everyone applying to an academic program, including all M.A. and Ph.D. applicants. Our institution code for the GRE is 2548.

What if I haven’t taken the TOEFL or GRE exam yet?

We need to have the results in our office no later than January, 15. If your score is not received on time, it could jeopardize your admission to the program.

How does the Department decide?

Admissions decisions are based primarily upon the admissions committee's estimation of the student's potential for scholarly achievement and the ability of the Stony Brook faculty to support the student in his or her intended field of scholarly study. If your file is incomplete, this will be impossible to determine.

When does the Department decide?

We send out admissions letters after the file review is complete. Offer letters are generally sent out in March. There is only one person processing all these letters, so please do not call to find out about the status of your letter.

What if it's April, and I haven’t received my letter yet?

If you have not heard anything by April, please send us an email with your full name, and the degree you applied for. We will look into it and get back to you.

Can I call for your decision?

Results are only given in writing. Please do not call for your result.

What if my application is incomplete? 

If your application is incomplete, the University will not admit you. It is crucial that all elements are included in the application. Some items may be received late, but the earlier you submit your materials, the better. If your application is substantially incomplete, you will not be admitted.

Is the Department on social media?

Yes. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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