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Graduate Program


Lehigh University, founded in 1865, is consistently ranked among the top universities in the United States. The University and the Department of History are proud to attract small, excellent cohorts of graduate students from all parts of the US and the world. The History graduate program offers training in preparation for a career in research and teaching as well as non-academic pursuits. The overarching theme of the program is Transnational History. Instruction and research advising related to this theme are offered by growing and dynamic faculty over a wide range of geographical regions and chronological periods. Coursework focuses on historiographical analysis and historical research methods.

The Department welcomes applications for both the PhD and MA programs. The PhD program prepares students for research and teaching in universities and colleges, as well as a variety of other careers, including work in museums, historical societies, journalism, government, and non-profits. The MA is designed to be a generalist degree that can prepare students for a number of careers or for more advanced graduate work. Former MA graduates work in a variety of areas including university education, secondary education, public history, library services, business, and government. The program provides training for those seeking to teach global, transnational US, Atlantic World, European, African, Middle Eastern or Latin American histories at the secondary or community college level, as well as for those who will continue on to doctoral studies and a career in research and college level teaching. Students initially admitted to the MA program at Lehigh must undergo a separate review process if they wish to pursue the PhD.

Prospective PhD students are encouraged to identify specific fields of interest and faculty members with whom they would like to work. At the PhD level, students should consider department strengths in the following areas:

  • British, French and Spanish Atlantic World Empires
  • Modern China
  • European Intellectual History
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • West Africa and the Atlantic African Diaspora
  • Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights, and Immigration Histories
  • 20th century US and the World
  • African-American History
  • Ottoman Empire and the Islamic World
  • Colonial America and the Early American Republic
  • Native American History
  • Gender History

Students applying to the PhD program should consult individual faculty web pages to learn more about faculty research specialties and determine specific mentorship opportunities. 

Not all fields may be accessible in a given admissions year. At present, opportunities for the doctoral study of British colonial America are very limited and opportunities for the doctoral study of the early US republic and Native American history are unavailable for the coming academic year. In all cases, potential applicants should contact potential faculty advisors directly if they have questions about the possibility of working in a related research field. They may also contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Nitzan Lebovic (

What is Transnational History?

Transnational history has emerged in recent years as an umbrella term for a variety of approaches that seek to capture dynamic change over time in ways that go beyond traditional historiographies bounded by national frameworks. Transnational History aims to put national developments in broader regional and global context, and to explain them in terms of cross-national influences as well as local causes. Transnational history may also consider the dissemination, circulation, and evolution of ideas, people, commodities, material culture, and spiritual practices in relation to changing political and social dynamics and fluid cultural identities, including national, religious, racial and gender identities. As such, Transnational approaches have influenced cutting edge scholarship across many scholarly subfields and are reshaping the teaching of basic survey courses in US history, World history and beyond.

Applications and Financial Awards

Successful PhD applicants will normally be offered five years of tuition waiver and stipend support drawn from a combination of fellowships and teaching assistantships. These awards are made conditional upon the maintenance of good academic standing. Doctoral students will also be able to apply for additional funding to support scholarly activities such as travel to archives and conferences. In the later years of doctoral study, students will also be eligible for additional, competitive fellowship support and teaching and internship opportunities. Successful MA applicants may be offered tuition support and/or teaching assistantships when they are available.

The review of graduate applications for Fall semester admission begins on 15 January each year. All application materials must be uploaded on Lehigh's online application system. Complete applications received on or before 15 January will receive full consideration. Applications received after that date may also be considered if there are available slots. Please direct questions about the graduate program to the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Nitzan Lebovic ( Technical questions about the application system should be directed to the Department Coordinator, Ellen Lewis (

The most important elements of the application in the review process are:

  • The personal statement, which details the student’s interest in pursuing graduate study in history.
  • The applicant's academic transcripts, with special importance attached to the student’s performance in history and related subjects. 
  • Recommendation letters from two or three faculty mentors who can speak to the applicant's potential for graduate work in the discipline. One of these letters may come from a former employer or non-academic mentor if the letter speaks to related skill sets the applicant may possess.
  • GRE scores, which are required for the PhD application, are rarely the determining element in an application file. A strong performance on the Verbal section of the GRE is most important. 
  • A relevant writing sample that demonstrates the ability to write clearly, intelligently, and persuasively with recourse to research. The sample may be drawn from a thesis or a seminar or research paper completed for a recent course. Submissions should be limited to twenty pages (excluding notes and bibliography).

Student Spotlight

Historian and PhD student Daniel Alejandro Ramos Matos discusses the history department and what attracted him to the graduate program at Lehigh University.