Below is a list of some of the more common questions regarding the application process. Please feel free to contact the History Graduate Office with additional inquiries.
- When are applications due?
- What should I do if one of my letters of recommendation is not submitted in time to arrive by the deadline?
- What are my chances of admission?
- Do you always admit the same number of students in a particular field (US, Asia, Europe, etc.)?
- How important is undergraduate training in history?
- Do you require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
- What kind of GPA or GRE scores do I need to be competitive?
- Does this mean I should not apply if my scores are lower?
- What do you look for in the writing sample?
- How important is the statement of purpose?
- How important is language training?
- How many offers of admission include offers of funding?
What should I do if one of my letters of recommendation is not submitted by the deadline?
The online system for submitting letters of recommendation (only) remains open beyond the application deadline and we accept letters from recommenders for a short period after the application deadline. File review begins almost immediately after the deadline, so it is important that you request your letters early and follow up with your recommenders as needed. If necessary, we can evaluate your application with two letters, but, obviously that is not necessarily to your benefit.
What are my chances of admission?
In recent years we have received, on average, between 130 and 150 applications (both M.A. and Ph.D.) to our graduate program. We generally admit about 10 new graduate students.
Do you always admit the same number of students in a particular field (US, Asia, Europe, etc.)?
No. We tend to select the strongest applicants regardless of field. In a given year, the applicant pool may be particularly strong in a given field. Competition for admission will be keener in that field, but the number of offers of admission in that field will likely be higher as well.
How important is undergraduate training in history?
Very. The admission committee looks for evidence that an incoming graduate student will adjust rapidly to the demands of graduate study in history. An undergraduate degree in history is a good predictor. Short of that, the committee will look for a degree in an allied field as well as evidence, as revealed by transcripts and the writing sample, of a strong historical component in the curriculum.
What kind of GPA or GRE scores do I need to be competitive?
The median GPA in an incoming class is typically 3.8. The median GRE verbal score is generally in the 90th percentile or above, and the median analytical score is 5.0-5.5.
Does this mean I should not apply if my gpa is lower?
Not at all. The median is the middle, meaning that half of the gpas were above and half below. Applicants with lower gpas can be competitive, especially if the statement of purpose, writing sample, and letters of recommendation make a compelling case for admission.
What do you look for in the writing sample?
We look for evidence of the following: good writing style, an ability to pose interesting historical questions, a sense of how to construct an argument, an understanding of the importance of sources and the ability to use them imaginatively, and a command of the "scholarly apparatus," including notes.
Very. As in the case of the writing sample, we look for style and imagination, but we also look for "closeness of fit." A persuasive statement of purpose leaves the reader with a sense not only for who you are and what you want to do as a historian, but also why it makes sense to pursue your graduate studies at the University of Washington.
How important is language training?
Reading proficiency in at least one foreign language is required for a graduate degree in History. The specific language(s) required for a field is determined by the faculty member who supervises graduate study in that field. An applicant who proposes to work for a degree in Greek, Roman, African, European, Russian, Medieval, Latin American, Middle Eastern, or Asian history is expected to have already begun to acquire a working knowledge of the foreign language(s) essential to research in that field.