Skip to content Skip to navigation

United States Graduate Program Information

Interested in Stanford’s graduate program in U.S. history?  Currently, the following faculty are available to serve as primary advisors for incoming graduate students in U.S. history:  Jennifer Burns, James Campbell, Gordon Chang, Jonathan Gienapp, Allyson Hobbs, Kathryn Olivarius, and Caroline Winterer.  However, this list does not exhaust the possibilities for intellectual guidance and mentorship at Stanford.  Students can also expect to work closely with other faculty in the department and across the university in coursework, graduate teaching, independent study, and orals and dissertation committees.   Scholars listed as “courtesy faculty” on our website have indicated a particular interest in working with graduate students in history.  Students interested in American religion should investigate the interdisciplinary program American Religions in a Global Context.

While faculty are always pleased to hear from prospective applicants, most are not able to comment on individual proposals or meet with students prior to their application.  If you feel that Stanford could be a good fit, please apply; you do not need permission or approval to do so.  You may hear directly from interested faculty once your application has been read.

In your application, be sure to indicate potential mentors and explain why you think your areas of interest overlap.  You do not need to have identified a potential dissertation topic, although you can indicate potential ideas.  Your "personal statement" should not be a personal essay, but rather should describe the intellectual journey that led you to graduate school, referencing specific books, courses, professors, and research experiences.  If you were not an undergraduate history major, explain why history is your chosen discipline and the academic experiences that have prepared you for graduate study.  If you are applying for the joint J.D./PhD., be sure to explain why this program fits your particular interests.

Supportive letters from professors who know you well, high grades in history courses, and a polished writing sample using primary sources are the most important parts of your application.  There is no minimum GRE score requirement. 

Be aware that admissions decisions in our department are made collectively.  This means your application must appeal not only to your prospective advisor, but to a broader set of historians.  Therefore your application needs to show evidence of a certain level of professional development: that you understand primary source research and historiography and are interested in the general sweep of American history, not just your specific corner of research.  Interests often change and develop during graduate school, so the admissions committee is looking for a certain quality of mind, rather than a specific topic.  That said, definitely describe your research interests as you currently understand them, and how you see your approach opening up new ways of understanding the past.  Applicants to the J.D./Ph.D. program must apply and gain entrance separately to the history department and the law school.

Our program is designed for students pursuing the Ph.D.; we admit masters students infrequently.