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World History Concentration

The Doctoral Program in history, with a core focus on world history, trains research historians who plan to teach at the college and university levels. Emphasizing global approaches to historical study, the program encourages students to think beyond national boundaries, comparatively, and in terms of themes that span geographically dispersed areas of the world-trade, migration, disease, religion, state formation, colonialism, and post-colonialism. Studies also include long-term historical processes, major global transformations, and interactions between states and colonial societies. Candidates for the Ph.D. in history may examine African, Asian, European, Latin American, or U.S. history in a world historical context. The program emphasizes mentoring of students in their courses, supervised teaching, and in the doctoral dissertation.

Systematic training in theory and methodology and preparation for college teaching are distinctive features of the Northeastern program. All doctoral students undertake intensive reading in the theoretical literature that informs historical analysis, as well as in global historiography. Each student develops a deliberate methodological focus in an area such as cultural history, social history, environmental and biological history, or public history. Students are mentored in the practice of teaching and are encouraged to lecture and lead discussion sections under the supervision of faculty.

A mix of reading courses and research seminars in area studies and comparative or transnational history provide students with the bedrock of training in the literature and research methods of history. Students may also take a limited number of courses outside the department.

The Department of History maintains close ties with interdisciplinary programs such as Asian Studies; Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies; Law and Public Policy; Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, and with the Departments of African American Studies; Art and Architecture; English; Sociology and Anthropology; and Political Science. Graduate students may obtain a certificate in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

All doctoral candidates must develop and demonstrate a strong reading knowledge of the languages in which they will undertake research. In cases where students require training in languages not offered at Northeastern, the department helps them arrange to take courses at nearby institutions.

The doctoral dissertation presents an original interpretation of a topic of historical significance based on detailed research into primary sources, a survey of the relevant literature, and skilled application of the theoretical and methodological apparatus germane to the topic.

In recent years, the Department of History has been able to provide funding to Ph.D. students for five years.

Applicants and admitted students are invited and encouraged to join one of our Welcome Days. Please click here for more information and to RSVP.

Ph.D Milestones

Please see History Department Graduate Regulations 2016-17 (Detailed) for more information about coursework, language requirements, annual reviews, Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations, and Dissertations.


Academic advising is a critical part of a student’s experience in the graduate program. New students are assigned faculty advisors and are welcome to subsequently change advisors as they fine-tune their academic and career objectives. Advising covers substantive questions in the student’s field of study as well as long-term academic and career planning. Student’s are strongly urged to speak to an advisor before registering for courses each semester. Any change in advisor must be reported to the program director.


For complete information on requirements for and policies in the graduate degree programs, please consult the following booklets:


General Graduate Regulations 2017-18


History Department Graduate Regulations 2019 – 2020 (Detailed) UPDATED FEBRUARY 25, 2020

History Department Graduate Regulations 2018 – 2019 (Detailed) UPDATED SEPTEMBER 20, 2018 WITH NEW INFORMATION FOR PLUS ONE PROGRAM

History Department Graduate Regulations 2017-18 (Detailed)

History Department Graduate Regulations 2016-17 (Detailed)

History Department Graduate Regulations 2015-16 (Detailed)

History Department Graduate Regulations 2014-15 (Detailed)