Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Admissions FAQ

How many applications do you receive?

We generally receive between 350 and 400 applications for an incoming class of approximately 18.  

May I visit before applying to the program?

You are welcome to visit the History Department at any time. Please consult the lists of faculty and students on our website and correspond directly with those who work in areas of interest to you. Visitors are expected to make their own arrangements with faculty and students. Department staff are generally not available to assist with visits.

Do you accept students for the winter term?

No. The department accepts students for the Fall term only. All application materials must reach the department by December 1 of the year before. This is a firm deadline.

Would a History MA make my file more competitive?

Many of the students who apply to our doctoral program have Master's degrees, often -- but not always --  in history. A Master's degree demonstrates the ability to conduct original research and can therefore be helpful to the professors assessing your file. In the last class to enter our PhD program, 80% held a Master's degree.

I have applied before. Do I need to complete the entire application again?

You will need to submit another online application and pay the fee again. Some portions of your application may be reused (for example, transcripts) but you should update your Academic Statement of Purpose and ask your recommenders to update their letters. If you took the TOEFL and your scores will be older than two years by the time you submit your application, you will need to re-take the exam. Generally, second applications are more successful when materials have been updated.

Should I submit transcripts from a community college?

If you have community or junior college, non-degree, or study abroad coursework, indicate this information on page nine of the application under the “Additional Education Information” section. Do not submit any transcripts from a community or junior college, non-degree, or study abroad coursework to Rackham unless you attended a Non-U.S. institution.

How do I submit a fee waiver request?

Update 10/19/2022 - Unfortunately, we have run out of our fee waivers for international students. US Citizens, Permanent Residents and DACA recipients, please see below on how to apply for the fee waiver by November 17, 2022.  

Application Fee Waivers for Fall 2022 Applications - Requests due November 17, 2022

We have a limited number of fee waivers available for both US and International students. If you do not qualify any of Rackham's fee waivers, but meet the requirements below, send an email to providing proof and an explanation of your eligibility based on the following:

  1. Have a record of superior academic achievement (e.g., grade point average, honors, or other designation)
  2. Are U.S. citizen, permanent residents, or undocumented students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA).
  3. AND must meet one or more of the following:
  • Come from an educational, cultural or geographic background that is underrepresented in graduate study in your discipline in the United States or at the University of Michigan;
  • Have demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the academic, professional, or civic realm through their work experience, volunteer engagement, or leadership of student or community organizations. By diversity, we mean efforts to reduce social, educational or economic disparities based on race, ethnicity or gender, or to improve race relations in the U.S.;
  • Have experienced financial hardship as a result of family economic circumstances;
  • Are a first generation U.S. citizen or first generation in your family to graduate from a four‐ year college.

Please keep in mind that race, ethnicity, gender, or national origin may not be used as a criteria for requesting an application fee waiver.

How do I upload a transcript to the online application so it is the right size?

Scan a copy of your transcript at a maximum resolution of 300dpi for black and white documents and 200dpi for color documents. Be sure to scan and upload both sides of the transcript.

What happens if my letters or test scores arrive after the December 1 deadline?

The History Department begins processing admissions files soon after the Dec. 1 deadline, and your letters and test scores should have been received by that date. Although the online system will continue to accept letters and test scores after the application has been turned off; everything must be received no later than mid-December in order to guarantee inclusion in your file for review by our faculty.

We strongly advise you to monitor receipt of your test scores and letters through the online system. Although there is often time to add missing materials to an incomplete file before it goes to the faculty for review, we can make no guarantees after December 1 due to processes and deadlines that are out of our control.

Is it possible to be accepted into your program without taking the GRE or TOEFL?

The GRE is no longer required, but international students must take the TOEFL. The IELTS and MELAB are also acceptable tests. International students who have received (or will receive) a degree from a university with English as the exclusive language of instruction are exempt from the TOEFL requirement. See Rackham's English Proficiency Requirements.

May I use two smaller writing samples instead of one large one?

Yes, you may upload two short writing samples as long as, together, they don’t exceed our 35-page limit. Combine them into one document for the upload and include a cover page explaining what you have done.

Who makes the decision about my application?

The U-M History Department has a large faculty, most of whom participate directly in the admissions process including reading files and making recommendations for admissions. Generally, the faculty members in your area of interest will be the ones to review your file. All files are reviewed by multiple individuals and we do not employ filters.  

If accepted, can I defer enrollment?

In general, deferments are discouraged. Deferment decisions are made on a case by case basis. Applicants must submit a written request to the Admissions Committee explaining why they’d like to defer. The committee will evaluate the request and the student will be notified as quickly as possible.

What role does Rackham have in the admissions process?

All applicants admitted to the History PhD program are students of Rackham Graduate School and the College of Literature, Science and Arts (LSA). Rackham plays a key role in the administration of the admissions process. The online application is managed by Rackham as is the interface between the vendor handling the application and the information technology staff at the university. In addition, Rackham analyzes all transcripts and certifies the information on them including the GPA. Rackham sets many of the standards applied to admissions including the minimum requirements and level of required English proficiency. Rackham prepares the I-20 documentation for international students. For a complete picture, please review Rackham’s website.

How will I know if my application and supporting documents have been received?

When you submit your online application and pay the application fee, Rackham will contact you with instructions for checking the status of your registration materials via Wolverine Access. That way you will be able to verify the data submitted, update contact information, view what test scores and transcripts have been received by Rackham, confirm that your letters have been received, accept or decline an offer of admission, and pay an enrollment deposit.  

Is the GRE required?

The History Department no longer requires the GRE. Please do not submit GRE scores to the History Department. 

What is the average GPA of your admitted students?

The average bachelor's GPA for our admitted students is 3.71. Over half of the students who come to our program have an MA, usually in History. The average master's GPA for our admitted students is 3.87.

Is foreign language proficiency a requirement for admission?

Although foreign language proficiency is not a requirement for admission, previous training in a language relevant to one’s major field is highly desirable, and in some cases essential to admission.

I satisfied a language requirement for my MA. Will this count at U-M?

Yes, by providing documented proof that you have satisfied a language requirement, similar to our own and administered in similar ways, for a Master’s degree, you have established your ability to read a foreign language. Language courses taken during a BA program are not eligible for satisfying the language requirement.