Graduate Program

The Department of History offers the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. In our small, selective graduate program--enrolling five to eight students a year--faculty members devote considerable time to each student. The department prides itself on the high quality of its instruction and mentoring and on the intellectual growth and success of its graduate students.

The program builds upon the broad strengths of our faculty in nineteenth-century and twentieth-century U.S. history as well as in early modern and modern European history. Faculty also bring methodological and thematic expertise in political and legal history; social and cultural history; race, religion, and reform; gender and public life; international relations; and the history of the American West. Please visit our individual faculty pages to explore the research and graduate-advising interests of our diverse faculty. Note also that history graduate students have worked closely with faculty in several of UM’s interdisciplinary programs, including African-American Studies, Environmental Studies, Native American Studies, Russian Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

The graduate program is anchored by readings colloquia in which students master the literature of major historical fields and subfields. In addition to foundational courses (e.g. Modern American History; Modern European History; Latin American History), the department offers such specialized topical courses as Law, Democracy, & Freedom in U.S. History; U.S. Religious History; Gender, Politics, & Society in U.S. History; American Empire; Soviet History; and European Social and Intellectual History.

Research seminars hone students’ research and writing abilities and prepare them to propose and execute substantial thesis and dissertation projects. Recent M.A. and Ph.D. students have researched such topics as the environmental politics of sport hunters in modern America; the policing of sexual health in the Progressive Era; battles over skiing in America’s national parks; revolutionary theater in the early Soviet Union; and conflicts over dogs in nineteenth-century American cities. Please visit our Recent Graduates page to survey the full range of projects undertaken by our M.A. and Ph.D. students. 

The Lockridge History Workshop, which convenes 5-6 times each semester, serves as the core of our department’s intellectual life. Among other virtues, it provides graduate students with a forum to present and receive feedback from students and faculty on their research essays and thesis and dissertation chapters. Less formal professional development gatherings provide students with tips on everything from TA-ing to applying for tenure-track jobs, while also acquainting them with employment opportunities outside academia, including public history and publishing. 

Phi Alpha Theta, an honors society for history students, provides both M.A. and Ph.D. students with the opportunity to attend and present papers at professional conferences. Many of our students have won awards for their presentations, and some have gone on to turn them into published articles.

The Ph.D. program prepares students for academic positions at two-year and four-year colleges and universities as well as jobs in public history, government, and the private sector. Recent graduates hold academic positions at Gonzaga University, the University of Montana, Meredith College, and Whatcom Community College. Another recent graduate was hired as Executive Vice President at a private firm specializing in contract historical research. The Ph.D. program also emphasizes writing for publication, and many of our recent graduates have transformed their dissertations into first-rate books.

The M.A. program prepares students for admission into doctoral programs and for employment in education (junior colleges and private high schools), museums and historical societies, companies specializing in historical research, and elsewhere in the private sector. The department has a long track record of placing its M.A. graduates into the nation’s most competitive doctoral programs, including Yale, Stanford, New York University, University of Virginia, and University of Pennsylvania. Past M.A. graduates have then gone on to tenure-line jobs at many leading universities, including the University of Virginia, the University of Georgia, and the University of Nebraska. Recent M.A. graduates also have landed jobs with  several private high schools, the U.S. State Department, the Montana Historical Society, and Historical Research Associates (HRA), a historical consulting firm with offices in Missoula, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

If you have questions about the graduate program, contact Professor Kyle G. Volk, Director of Graduate Studies.