College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

History Graduate Degrees

The national job market for graduates of doctoral programs in History has been notoriously poor over the last decade, but the KU Department of History has placed our graduates well. Our graduates have found employment at research institutions as Mississippi State University; the University of Georgia; the University of Pennsylvania; the US Air Command and Staff College; the German Historical Institute; as well as other public history institutions including the Kansas City Public Library; the Walden Woods Project; and the U.S. Holocaust Museum; as well as think tanks including the RAND Corporation. 

Professional Development: In this age of declining academic opportunity KU is especially keen to offer every professional advantage to our graduate students and alumni. Consequently, we work consistently to ensure that our students present the best possible intellectual content and professional performance. Faculty and other graduate students critique and workshop papers, article submissions, research methods, job letters, CVs, public presentations, and job talks at every step of the process, ensuring that when our graduates leave Mount Oread they are prepared to master any professional challenge.

In addition to completing the formal requirements for the PhD, graduate students also need to develop a professional profile that will position them to succeed after graduation. This timetable lets you know what sorts of things you should be doing, along with degree requirements, and when you should do them.

First Year (+ summer):

  • Begin to think about career options, including both a first and a second choice
  • Begin following academic journals in your field
  • Begin to attend lectures, seminars, workshops, job talks
  • Attend an academic conference
  • Read the central books/articles in your field and major theoretical works
  • Begin to acquire a library of essential books in your field
  • Upgrade your command of your primary research language
  • Write your C.V.
  • Attend CTE teaching workshops
  • Attend a Hall Center grant-writing workshop
  • Become acquainted with department faculty
  • Find peer mentors among more senior graduate students
  • Acquire a professional outfit

Second Year (+ summer):

  • Choose a dissertation topic
  • Familiarize yourself with archives and libraries in your area
  • Join professional associations
  • Apply for a pre-dissertation research grant
  • Read to fill out gaps in your command of the historiography
  • Take a position in HGSO
  • Start compiling a teaching portfolio
  • Deliver a guest lecture in a course
  • Further upgrade primary research language competence (speaking and writing)
  • Do a preliminary research trip in the summer

Third Year (+ summer)

  • Present a paper (based on a seminar paper) at a regional conference
  • Upgrade research skills (e.g. paleography, statistical methods)
  • Attend a national academic conference
  • Consult established scholars in your field outside KU, and ask them if they will recommend you
  • Apply for external dissertation research grants
  • Begin to network with established scholars and graduate students in your area
  • Begin to develop your teaching profile--a variety of courses and classroom settings
  • Mentor undergraduates
  • Take a position on a department committee

Fourth Year (+ summer)

  • Travel to archives and libraries for intensive research
  • Apply for external dissertation write-up grants
  • Submit a research article to a refereed journal
  • Publish a book review, encyclopedia article, abstract, or translation
  • Present a paper at a national academic conference
  • Give a presentation to a public audience or K-12
  • Read job ads closely; follow department searches closely
  • Prepare job application materials in summer: cover letter, teaching portfolio,
  • dissertation abstract, revised C.V. and get faculty to vet them
  • Arrange for letters of recommendation, including from non-KU scholars

Fifth Year

  • Apply for jobs and for post-doctoral fellowships
  • Practice mock interviews
  • Continue to network with established scholars and fellow students
  • Submit another research article for publication
  • Present another paper at a major conference
  • Dream about future research projects
  • Join a dissertation writing support/discussion group
  • Mentor more junior graduate students
  • Take a position on a dept. or university committee
  • Acquire a professional wardrobe

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