How to apply?

To apply online, go to the UI Graduate and Professional Admissions website.

After you submit your application, you will receive email instructions on how to establish your HawkID and password in order to access your Admissions Profile on MyUI, our online portal for students. All supporting materials can and should be uploaded through your Admissions Profile. You will be asked to provide the contact information of your recommenders on your Profile. The recommender will then receive an email from the Office of Admissions instructing them on how to upload a recommendation letter and/or recommendation form.

Applicants for admission to the graduate program must meet the Admission Requirements of the Graduate College and this department.

For questions regarding the process, please contact Kathleen O'Neill via email at or by phone, 319-335-2308.

Important deadlines

Application deadline for academic year 2024-2025 has passed.

FAQs on the application process

The History Graduate Admissions committee will begin reviewing applications after the January 15th application deadline. Applicants whose materials are received in full by that deadline have the best chance to be admitted and given funding. 

Admission Process

  1. Which program should I apply to? 
    When filling out the application form, it is very important to specify which degree program in History you are applying for: MA Terminal or PhD. An MA Terminal degree is for those seeking to obtain a master's degree in history. These applicants may or may not go on to a PhD. If someone in the MA program wants to continue on to pursue their PhD, they must reapply and be formally accepted into the program. All those students wishing to pursue a PhD (whether you have an MA or not) should apply to the PhD program. There is a form available on the Admissions website where you will specify this information.
  2. What documents are required for my application? 
    Graduate College History deparTMENT
    Completed Application Form Sample of Written Work
    Processing Fee Statement of Purpose
    Transcripts Three Letters of Recommendation
    TOEFL scores (if applicable) CV (optional)
    **Beginning in the 2022-23 application year and going forward, GRE scores are no longer required.
  3. What do you mean by my "best sample of written work"? 
    The sample of written work should be the best substantial paper you wrote as an undergraduate in an upper division history class. If you have an MA degree in history, it should be your master's thesis or a major paper you wrote for a graduate seminar. Applicants often ask us what to submit if they did not do a research paper in history as an undergraduate, or if they are now considering graduate work several years after getting their BA degree and do not have a current essay. The best choice for a writing sample is what you think best displays your ability to write clearly and critically, while using evidence from various credible sources to make a persuasive argument. We sometimes suggest applicants who have been out of college for a while take an upper-level history course that will provide them with an opportunity to write a substantial paper, if they can find an appropriate class at a nearby college. We have also had some successful applicants who have sent a paper from a course in another discipline (e.g. English, Anthropology or Political Science) that demonstrates their ability to write well and to think historically.
  4. How do my referees submit a letter of recommendation?
    After you enter in each reference person's information into the application system, they will be emailed with a link to upload their letters of recommendation into the admissions system. Please ensure you have typed in the correct email address, or it will not get to that person. 
  5. Do I need to secure an advisor if I want to apply to the history graduate program?
    Graduate students will be assigned to an advisor during the admissions process; however, it is essential to look through the faculty research areas to ensure there are active graduate faculty who could help support your dissertation research and writing. It may also be beneficial to reach out to a faculty member who studies like topics to determine if they agree they could adequately support your dissertation and/or if they are still taking on new graduate students. 
  6. What are the criteria are for admission to graduate work?
    The minimum GPA required for admission is the same as the minimums enforced by the Graduate College, which currently stands at 3.0 for applicants to both the MA and the PhD degree. We do take GPA into consideration, of course, but we do so in light of our evaluation of all the application materials. The Department's admissions committee reads the student's writing sample very carefully, and an excellent research paper can offset a less than stellar GPA. Similarly, "A" work in an applicant's history classes during the last years of college can offset a relatively low GPA resulting from poor performance during the first year as an undergraduate. Lastly, we look closely at the applicant's letters of recommendations, statement of purpose, general course of study pursued, and the quality of undergraduate or graduate institution from which degrees were earned. All of this information informs our assessment of the applicant's potential to become a professional historian.

The Department's admissions committee, which consists of the Director of Graduate Studies and two other faculty members, meets shortly after the second semester begins and works to identify the most promising candidates for our program. During this process, the committee selects qualified applicants to be considered for various fellowships from the Graduate College to include the Iowa Recruitment Fellowship and the Lulu Merle Johnson Fellowship, among others. By the last meeting of the admissions committee in late February/early March, the committee has compiled two short lists of candidates. The ranked lists of names for MA Terminal and PhD students are presented to the entire faculty at a faculty meeting in early March for the Department's approval. 

  1. Do you provide funding for MA Terminal students? 
    We normally do not offer financial support to MA Terminal students. There are times the department is in need of an additional Teaching Assistant so those with teaching experience in their background may be offered financial support on a case-by-case basis. This funding is not guaranteed for any longer than the contract provided to the student and is often a last-minute decision when current PhD students receive outside funding/fellowships.
  2. Do you provide funding for PhD students?
    Yes, the department only admits the number of students they can fund each year with a Teaching Assistantship. This number can and will vary from year to year depending on the department's allocated funding.
  3. What is your funding package for students admitted to your program?
    If you are accepted to our PhD program, you get 5 years of funding as a Teaching Assistant. This funding includes 100% of tuition costs, 50% of some mandatory university fees (does NOT cover any international student fees), a monthly stipend/pay for 10 months of the year, and the University contributes toward health and dental benefits for graduate assistants and their dependents. The monthly stipend is negotiated by UE Local 896 – COGS, the graduate student union.
  4. Can I apply/be admitted to the PhD program if I have my own funding?
    On occasion there is an opportunity for self-funded PhD students to be admitted to our program. Every student, whether funded or not, is evaluated using the same criteria and will be ranked alongside all PhD applicants and only granted admission if they qualify at the top of the ranking pool. Students who do not wish to be considered for funding should let the graduate program coordinator know this intention.  


  1. Is there a waiver for the application fee?
    No. there is no waiver of the application fee for international students at the University of Iowa (See  Likewise, the department does not have the ability to cover these funds for all of our applicants.
  2. Does the department offer any kind of funding for international students?
    There is no funding available to MA Terminal applicants/students, but every applicant selected for admission to the PhD program (with or without an MA in hand) will receive funding. This funding comes in the form of a Teaching Assistantship (see the "Funding" FAQ for specifics on what is covered), so it is very important that applicants whose first language is not English gain the necessary speaking and writing skills in English to communicate effectively in the classroom. There is an extensive program of courses and examinations for students who do not list English as their native language on their application to improve their English and to be certified when ready to instruct undergraduates. We urge foreign applicants to be aware of our expectation that they be able to teach and come to the University of Iowa prepared to do intensive language work if necessary. If a student is unable to teach due to their communication skills, they may lose their funding. International students whose native language is English are exempt from these testing requirements.
  3. Is English proficiency required if my undergraduate studies were in English?

    You do not need to take the English Proficiency Exam to attend University of Iowa; however, separate from the proficiency exam, PhD students with teaching assistantships at Iowa are required to complete the English-Speaking Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) to assess their command of spoken English before being assigned to the classroom. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule (like obtaining an undergraduate degree from an English-speaking University or having an certain level of score on the iBT TOEFL) which are located at the ESPA link in this paragraph

  1. Do you have any online options for the master's degree?
    No, we do not have any online graduate coursework and do not offer the master's degree through an online program.
  2. Do I need a master's degree to apply for the PhD program? What if I have a master's degree but it's not in history?
    You can apply to our doctoral program whether you currently have an MA or not. We have two tracks to completing the PhD in History based on whether or not you've completed an MA program. If you have completed an MA but it was not in history, you can still be considered for our PhD program and on a case-by-case basis, we will determine your specific needs within our PhD program.