Carnegie Mellon University

Admissions Information

Before You Apply

  • Please discuss the advisability of pursuing a Ph.D. in History with a trusted academic advisor -- preferably someone who holds the Ph.D. degree in History. In your application please be clear about your reasons for applying for a Ph.D. in history in general, and in particular for one at Carnegie Mellon.
  • Acquaint yourself with our faculty and their research interests. Please note that the single most important criterion that the Admissions Committee considers in deciding among qualified candidates is whether there is a good fit between research interests and those of one or more of our faculty. For more information see About the Program.

Application Requirements

In addition to biographical information and background information, our application includes the following major elements:

Writing Samples

The Admissions Committee places particular emphasis on this part of your application. We prefer writing samples that demonstrate your ability to analyze and write from primary sources. We will, however, accept other writing samples that demonstrate your analytic skills, as long as they show your preparation for graduate work in history.

Most applicants submit one piece of writing, of approximately 10,000 words. You can submit two separate pieces of writing, if you prefer. Please do not submit a writing sample longer than 30,000 words total.

Statement of Purpose

In an essay of no more than 1,000 words, address such questions as: Why do you wish to have a Ph.D. in history? What sorts of questions do you imagine addressing as a historian? What attracts you to the Carnegie Mellon graduate history program? Which of our faculty's research interests most closely match your own, and how? What are your major career goals after completing study at Carnegie Mellon University? Describe any relevant education, research, or teaching experience.


Three letters of recommendation are required. At least two should be from faculty. Recommenders should know you well and be able to evaluate the quality of your academic abilities.

All letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically. Enter and Save the required information for each recommender. You must select the Send Request button for an email to be sent to the recommender. Do NOT wait for the letters of recommendation to be received before submitting your application.

Select your recommenders carefully and type their email addresses correctly. Absolutely no changes or additions to the recommenders section will be allowed after the application deadline.

Please send the requests to your recommenders as early as possible and well before the application deadline. It is your responsibility to request that your recommenders submit their letters of recommendation by the application deadline. If a recommendation is not submitted promptly, you may send a reminder email to the recommender. Any recommendations sent after the deadline may not arrive in time for the review process.

Test Scores.

The GRE test is optional, and if submitting you will need to provide the date and scores for the GRE general test.

If your native language is not English, then you must submit a TOEFL/TOEFL Online test, IELTS/IELTS Indicator test, or online Duolingo English test. If you have not yet taken the required tests, provide the dates you are scheduled to take them. It is highly recommended that you upload copies of your test score reports (if available) in PDF format. For more information please visit the websites for TOEFLIELTS, or Duolingo. If you are currently working on or have received a bachelors or masters degree for which English is the language of instruction and your native language is not English, a language test is still required, but you may submit a copy of a previous score report even if it is more than two years old. Request that an official score report be sent to:

Graduate Coordinator Department of History 240 Baker Hall Carnegie Mellon University 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890 USA

GRE codes: Institution 2074, Department 2704 TOEFL codes: Institution 2074, Department 86

All official score reports are due by the application deadline. Please make certain that you use the correct institution and department codes. If you do not use the correct codes, the score reports will not reach our offices. If you have not used the correct codes, it is your responsibility to contact ETS and request score reports be sent with the correct codes as listed below.


Application Process Frequently Asked Questions


I have a question concerning the application process, where do I go for help?
If you are unable to find an answer to your question in the FAQ, then send an email to the Graduate Coordinator, Amanda Katz, at

When are letters of recommendation and test scores due?

All are due on same date as the main application. We strongly suggest that you plan to take all required tests before December. Scores from tests taken in December may not arrive in time for the review process. Scores from tests taken in January or later will not be considered.

Are there additional financial aid forms to complete? No.

I used my email and password, but I cannot access the online application. What is the problem? If your browser accepts cookies, and your computer is not behind a firewall, then you should be able to login successfully. Also, please make sure you are using the same website to login that you used to register. If you continue to have problems, then please contact Jennifer Melnyk at

What if all of my supporting documents do not arrive by the deadline? They may not be considered in the review of your application. It is your responsibility to make certain that your application is complete and that the required materials reach us by the above stated deadlines. You may use your email and password to check your submitted application to make certain that it is complete.

Can I make changes to my online application after it has been submitted? You may return and make changes to your submitted application (including the documents you have uploaded) until the deadline. No changes will be allowed after this date.

Can I apply to a Ph.D. program with only an undergraduate degree? Yes. You do not need a master's degree to apply to our Ph.D. program.

If I applied last year and was not admitted, can I reapply this year? Yes. All application materials must be resubmitted, although it is possible to request that official test score reports and transcripts from the previous year be used if there are no changes to them.

How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. program in history? This varies but we plan on students taking five to six years to complete their degree. No student may receive a tuition fellowship and stipend for more than 6 years and all degrees must be completed within 10 years.

Is it possible to work on a Ph.D. degree part time? Yes, but it is uncommon. Though we provide stipends to our full time students, we are unable to provide stipends to part-time students. Typically those working part-time have existing professional positions which complement graduate study in history.

Is it possible to visit the campus and the Department of History?

We generally ask that you wait until you have been admitted to the program before you visit. If admitted, you will be invited to campus to visit, usually in late March or early April. We help make travel and housing arrangements and will schedule appointments for you with faculty members and graduate students. If you wish to visit prior to applying, please contact Christopher Phillips, so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Should I contact faculty members directly? You should feel free to contact members of the faculty whose research interests are closest to yours to explore whether they are accepting new students and if they would be appropriate advisors. A close fit between a faculty member's research interests and those of the applicant is one of the most important criteria we use for admitting students. If you are not sure which faculty best match your interests, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Christopher Phillips,

Will I be considered for financial support if I am admitted? Yes. All full-time students admitted to the Ph.D. program who remain in good standing by making satisfactory progress are guaranteed 6 years of support (tuition and monthly stipend). However, no student may receive financial aid beyond the sixth year of matriculation.

If I am admitted to the Ph.D. program, can I defer admission? We decide this on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical Information

How do I obtain an I-20 form? Please refer to the Office of International Education page:

This page contains a wealth of information for international students accepted to Carnegie Mellon University.

I do not currently have a visa, but will need to apply for one. What do I select under Visa Status?

Select the one that will most closely match your status when you arrive on campus. Most likely you will need an F1 visa; however, you should carefully review the information at

What should I give as my current address? Use the address where you will be available to receive mail through April. You may enter a permanent address if it differs from your current address.

What do I do if my email address or current address changes before the end of the semester?

You may change your current address, email address and password in your submitted application until the deadline. If there is any change after this date, please send email to Amanda Katz at, and the coordinator will make the necessary updates. It is very important that you maintain a valid email address in your submitted application.

Test Scores

Is the GRE required? No. Submitting a GRE score is optional for applicants.

What are the GRE and TOEFL institution and department codes? GRE: Institution code, 2074; Department code, 2704 TOEFL: Institution code, 2074; Department code, 86

I used the wrong codes. What should I do? It is your responsibility to submit the score reports with the correct codes. Please have them sent again with the correct codes as stated above.

Am I required to submit a TOEFL score? If your native language is not English, then you MUST submit an English language proficiency exam. CMU currently accepts the TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo English Tests. If you are currently working on or have received a bachelors and/or a masters degree with instruction in English and your native language is not English, a language test is still required, but you may submit a copy of a previous score report even if it is more than two years old.

I have requested my test scores and transcripts be sent, but my application has not been updated. You must first SUBMIT your application before receipt of test scores or transcripts will be updated. They must be matched and updated manually, which may take several days once you submit your application.

Which scores should I enter if I have taken the GRE test more than once? Please enter the scores from your most recent test. All scores will appear on the official score report for the committee to review.


I am in a five-year program and will be awarded a masters degree. Do I enter this in the Undergraduate or Graduate section of Colleges/Universities? This information should be entered in both sections.

What format do I use to enter my GPA and College/University Point System? Please enter your GPA exactly as given by your College/University, e.g. 3.5, 4.9, 9.6, etc. In the box to right indicate the Point System that your College/University uses, e.g. 4.0, 5.0, 10.0, etc.

How many transcripts should I send? Please upload ONE copy  of your transcript from each college or university attended, whether or not you received a degree. If you submit a transcript from a foreign country, you must include an English translation. Do NOT send copies of awards and certificates with the transcript. If admitted, an official copy will have to be sent before matriculation.

What if my fall semester grades are not on my transcript by the deadline? We do not require that you send a copy of your fall semester grades. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send us a final transcript.

I have requested my transcripts and test scores be sent, but my application has not been updated. You must first SUBMIT your application before receipt of test scores or transcripts will be updated. They must be matched and updated manually, which may take several days once you submit your application.

Where do I mail my transcripts? Graduate Coordinator Department of History 240 Baker Hall Carnegie Mellon University 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890 USA


My recommenders have not received the email requests or the reminder emails that were sent. What should I do? First, make sure that you typed the correct email address, and then ask them to check their spam filters. If the email cannot be found, please ask them to send their letters directly (in PDF format) to Amanda Katz at The email subject line must read: "Upload recommendation letter for [your name]". Only the recommender can email letters to this address. Uploads may not be completed until early January. We appreciate your patience.

If I submit an online application, can my recommenders use the paper recommendation form? No. Recommenders must submit their letters online. We no longer accept any paper recommendation forms.

What should I do if the deadline is approaching or has passed and one or more of my recommenders has not submitted their recommendation? You may send reminder email to a recommender from your submitted application. It is your responsibility to make certain that the letters are submitted by the application deadline. Any letters not received by the deadline may not be considered.

What if I want to submit more than three letters of recommendation? Three letters of recommendation are required; however, space is provided for you to submit up to five. Recommenders should know you and your academic work well.

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for me? The admissions committee wants to know about your ability to do independent historical research. You should select letter writers who can best speak to that aspect of your application. Professors who interacted with you extensively in smaller classes are also a good choice. We ask that two of your letters be from faculty members.

My recommenders have not submitted their letters. Can I submit my application before they submit? Yes. Do not wait for the letters before submitting your application.

Application Fee

How much is the application fee? The application fee is $25.

What if I cannot afford to pay the application fee? If you are unable to afford the fee, then you should contact Amanda Katz at as soon as possible so we can consider the possibility of issuing a waiver. We may ask that you obtain a letter from your current/last institution’s Financial Aid Office.

Can I pay the application fee by credit card? You may pay the fee by credit card or by check. Instructions will be given when you submit your online application. If you do not want to pay by credit card with the online application, you may pay by check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and made payable to Carnegie Mellon University. Please include your email on the check or money order and mail to the address given below. DO NOT SEND CASH. Graduate Coordinator Department of History 240 Baker Hall Carnegie Mellon University 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890 USA

Application Status

How and when will I be notified if I am admitted? We make our admissions decisions during the months of January and February. All applicants will receive notification of their status by mid-March, typically through the application portal and by email. We request that you do not contact our office to inquire about the status of your submitted application until April.

How do I track check the status of my application? Please do NOT send email to ask the status of your application. Use your email address and password to access the submitted online application status page. Receipt of the required documents (score reports, transcripts, and letters of recommendation) will be indicated in the corresponding section. Please allow two to three weeks past the deadline for all documents to be recorded.