David Graff, Chair
Louise Breen, Director of Graduate Studies
117D Calvin Hall
The Department of History offers well-prepared students an exceptional opportunity to work closely with an unusually productive and well-regarded faculty. The department aims to help students find and develop their talents fully and to establish themselves as independent scholars, teachers, and other historical professionals.
The department offers programs of study leading to the master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees in selected traditional and innovative fields. In addition to various American and European fields, the department’s strengths include areas such as gender history and the history of science and technology. An area of particular strength at Kansas State University is military history.
The university’s Hale Library has a number of large, specialized collections. In addition, nearby are several excellent research facilities: the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, with outstanding holdings relating to the Eisenhower administration and recent military history; the Kansas State Historical Archives in Topeka; the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, with valuable collections on the Truman administration, the history of the American presidency, and foreign policy; the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri, emphasizing materials pertaining to science and the history of science; and the regional Federal Records Center in Kansas City, currently rich in military and civilian records and eventually to have a microfilm duplication of the main holdings of the National Archives in Washington.
The history department encourages its students to engage in broad professional activities. Many students publish in historical journals, present papers at conferences, and speak to off-campus groups while completing their degrees. The history department also has an active internship program. Graduate students can gain valuable “hands-on” experience in institutions such as the Riley County Historical Museum, the Fort Riley Cavalry Museum, the Kansas State Historical Society, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library.
Graduate degrees in history have traditionally led to positions in higher education, and students earning the Ph.D. at Kansas State University have effective preparation for careers as teachers and scholars. But a high percentage of history graduate degree holders also enter archival or museum work, historical publishing, governmental official history programs, historical research for private businesses, and professional service as military officers. The history faculty regards such nontraditional careers as legitimate first choices for its students and works with the students to define programs that accommodate these varied objectives.
The master of arts requires a minimum of 30 hours beyond the baccalaureate degree, and the program offers two options: 24 hours of course work plus a thesis (6 research hours); or 30 hours of course work. All candidates for the M.A. must take a course in historiography. Those who write a thesis must take two seminars or topics courses and pass an oral or written final examination that centers on the student’s research. Those who take the non-thesis degree must take three seminars or topics courses and pass a written final examination over their coursework.
The doctor of philosophy requires completing 30 hours of course work beyond the master’s, satisfying the language requirement, passing the qualifying examination, and writing a sound dissertation based on original historical research that is approved by the student’s committee. The qualifying examination includes separate examinations in a geographically and chronologically defined comprehensive field and three special fields. One of the special fields must focus on the student’s principal research interests, and another must cover a substantially different geographical area or chronological period than the student’s comprehensive field or be from outside history.
To satisfy the language requirement for the Ph.D., students must establish an intermediate-mid level of reading proficiency in a foreign language. A student may do so by providing evidence that he or she passed a four-semester sequence, or the equivalent, in one foreign language at the undergraduate level with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better and with a 3.0 or better in the fourth or final course in the sequence; by providing evidence that he or she passed an equivalent graduate-level reading/translation examination at another accredited university; or by passing a foreign language examination certifying reading/translation proficiency at the “intermediate-high” level. Supervisory committees may specify which of the three methods the student must use to demonstrate proficiency. Further, the supervisory committee may require that the student demonstrate a higher standard of proficiency in a foreign language, and/or additional specialized research skills, including an additional foreign language.
Applicants to graduate programs at Kansas State University must submit an application for admission and provide official copies of transcripts of record from each college or university attended. In addition, all applicants to the programs in history must complete a statement of purpose and provide three letters of academic reference. Applicants must also submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test (the advanced test in history is not required).
International students must provide evidence of financial support as required by the Graduate School, and those whose native language is not English must present a score of 600 or better on the Test of English as Foreign Language for admission.
Outstanding graduate students in history qualify for fellowships granted by the Graduate School, and some students may be appointed to graduate research assistantships funded by the University or by money from external grants.
The Department of History also offers graduate teaching assistantships to qualified students on a competitive basis. For 2021-2022, the stipend for graduate students holding GTA positions was $17,000 for nine months. GTAs also receive a full tuition fee waiver. Beginning GTAs work as graders or discussion leaders, and experienced assistants are frequently assigned independent sections of survey courses. Prospective students wishing to be considered for graduate teaching assistantships must complete their applications for admission by December 1.
Prospective students may apply simultaneously for admission to the graduate program and for a GTA. Assistantships are only awarded once a year to begin in the fall semester. Anyone wishing to be considered for an assistantship should indicate that in the space provided at the bottom of the Statement of Objectives form. Only those applying for fall semester admission whose application is received by December 1st of the preceding year will be considered.
Continuing students who do not already hold a GTA may apply by letter to the Graduate Admissions and Awards Committee. They must also provide a letter of recommendation from a member of the faculty, normally the student’s major professor. These applicants are reviewed on the basis of their entire record, which includes all of the materials supplied for admission plus their grades and other evidence of their performance in our program, including the required letter of recommendation.
Students who hold an assistantship and seek to have it renewed for another year are likewise expected to apply for consideration, providing a letter of recommendation from the major professor and, for those who have assisted a faculty member, a letter from the supervising instructor. Doctoral students who are seeking renewal of their GTA appointment must also provide a copy of an application for a fellowship or grant, which they have filed with some external funding agency.
All applications are reviewed by the graduate admissions and awards committee. The committee considers first the requests for renewal. Master’s students may hold an assistantship for a maximum of two years and doctoral students for a maximum of four years. To merit renewal, the holders of assistantships are expected to demonstrate satisfactory performance of their duties as GTA and satisfactory progress toward their degrees.
The history department has four basic types of graduate courses:
HISTORY AND SECURITY COURSES
HIST 850-860: These courses are designed for the Security Studies MA program (though they are open to history students). They focus on the historical roots of contemporary security issues.
HIST 903-909: Survey courses are intended to introduce students to the most important themes and issues in their respective fields. They aim to put the historical literature in broad context to help students prepare for teaching and for their comprehensive field exams.
HIST 919-979, 990-992: Seminars are courses in which students are expected to study the primary source material for particular topics within a general area of study and to write a paper based on research using such sources. These courses are intended to develop graduate students’ skills in the use of research tools and methods, ability to conceptualize and organize an argument, and facility in presenting research findings.
HIST 980-984: Topics courses are designed through reading and discussion to acquaint students with the literature in particular fields of history. They are also intended to familiarize students with major substantive areas of dispute and historical debate within a field of study. Precise topics courses vary from semester to semester, and specific topics will be listed in the class schedule.
Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Arts