Applying to the Graduate Programs in History

Application for any History graduate program is accomplished entirely online.  Applicants will complete the application, pay the application fee, and submit all materials via the application portal.  Students will also submit email addresses for three references that will provide letters of recommendation directly through the portal via an email invitation.   For more information on how the online application process works, see the website above.

Applicants should accumulate all materials for submission before starting the process (although the application system will allow applicants to save their submission along the way and complete it later).  

The History Department requires these elements for all of its Graduate Applications:

  • A completed online application
  • The application fee
  • GRE scores (must be taken within five (5) years of the application).
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
  • Three letters of recommendation (Letters of recommendation should be written by individuals who can best speak to your ability to perform in a History graduate program, preferably professors who have significant knowledge of your content knowledge in History, writing ability, capability in making historical arguments and using evidence, and capacity to actively participate in intellectual discussions and debates).
  • A personal statement (Personal statements should indicate your interest in the program, your academic background as it pertains to your ability to excel in a History graduate program, your career goals, and why you have chosen to apply to Southern Miss, including any specific programs you are interested in or any specific faculty members you would like to work with if accepted.  The statement should be approximately two to three double-spaced pages in length.) 
  •  A writing sample (Writing samples are typically an undergraduate research paper or a chapter from a Master thesis.  Ideally, the writing sample should not exceed twenty-five pages in length.  The writing sample should highlight your ability to make a historical argument and use primary and secondary evidence to support it.  You should submit a “clean” copy without any instructor comments.)

All materials MUST be submitted through the online application system.
Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What is the deadline for application to the graduate program?

Deadlines depend on the degree program (see below).  Please note the earlier deadline for admission if you are also applying for an assistantship (see further below).


 Applications for the Masters of Science degree programs are accepted anytime, although the graduate admissions committee needs about two months to make a decision and approve it. MS applications are evaluated as soon as all materials are received for consideration of enrollment the next semester.


 Applications for the Master of Arts degree programs are due on June 1 for fall admission and on November 1 for admission to the spring term.  The History Department does not admit M.A. students for the summer semester.   We HIGHLY encourage applicants for the full-time M.A. to apply to start in the fall semester because of the required sequence of classes.  Full-time M.A. students who start the program in a spring term will see their graduation significantly delayed because they will not be able to complete the required HIS 710/711 sequence until the second year of their program.  Students wishing to study for the M.A. part-time can start the program in either semester.


 Applications for the Ph.D. degree programs are due on February 1 for fall admission.  The History Department only admits Ph.D. students into the fall term.

Q: What is the deadline for consideration for a teaching assistantship?


You must inform the Director of Graduate Studies in writing of your desire to be considered for an assistantship no later than February 1 for the following academic year.  Your application for admission must also be complete by February 1.  In addition to informing the DGS of your interest in an assistantship, you should be sure to check the box on the graduate application that indicates such an interest.

Q: What is the minimum GRE score required for admission?


We do not have an established minimum score, although higher scores are obviously better than lower ones.  The department values the Verbal and the Analytical Writing sections of the GRE most, with relatively little attention paid to the Quantitative section (unless the applicant intends to do quantitative research for the degree). We do not use the GRE as the sole benchmark of the worth of an application. The Graduate Admissions Committee takes all application materials (recommendation letters, transcripts and GPA, writing sample, statement of purpose, fit with program, GRE scores, etc.) into consideration when it makes admission and funding decisions.  

Q: Is there a minimum GPA for admission?


The History Department’s minimum GPA for admission into our Masters’ degree programs is a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.  Please remember this is a minimum and the Graduate Admissions Committee usually expects to see a high undergraduate GPA, especially in History courses.  The department’s minimum GPA for the Ph.D. program is a 3.5 on graduate History courses.  According to the Graduate Bulletin, applicants with lower GPAs (at least a 2.75) may be considered for Conditional Admission.  While extremely rare, the History Department may consider such individuals for Conditional Admission if there is other overwhelming evidence (GRE scores, letters of recommendation, etc.) of the possibility of success in graduate coursework and research.  

Q: Do I need to know what I will write my thesis or dissertation on before I apply?


No, though you should have a good idea of what geographical area and time period of history you wish to study.

Q: Do I need an undergraduate degree in History to apply to the program?


Normally, applicants to our Masters programs are expected to have undergraduate major or minor in History, although in some extraordinary cases preparation in a closely related field such as political science or anthropology may suffice, if the applicant also has some background in upper-division History classes.  Students who lack a sufficient background in History may want to take a series of fundamental undergraduate courses before applying to the program (contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information).  Upon successful completion of such courses, the student would be considered for conditional admission into a Masters program via the normal application process.    

Q: Can I apply to the Ph.D. program without a Master’s Degree?


No.  You must complete the M.A. degree in History (with a Master’s thesis) in order to be admitted into the Ph.D. program.  In rare cases, a closely related M.A. degree (with thesis or substantial project) such as anthropology or political science may suffice if the applicant has a significant undergraduate background in History (a History major or minor).  

Q: Can I take courses on-line?


The department does not offer, and has no plans to offer, graduate courses on-line or though distance education.

For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Kyle Zelner, at