Department of History

Ph.D. Program

Hallmarks of the Brown History doctoral program include an intimate setting, close collaboration with faculty, Brown's unique undergraduate population and open curriculum, world-class scholars working in every region of the globe, and the department's commitment to professionalization and teaching.

The program centers on both cutting-edge training and preparation for jobs in a variety of institutions, including research universities, teaching colleges, and sites of research, teaching, writing, and public engagement outside academia.

Fields of Study

The History department trains Ph.D. students in a wide range of fields, methodologies, and areas of the globe. The program fosters an intellectual community in which collaboration, intellectual breadth, and conversations across fields are prized. Additionally, Ph.D. students take a sequence of professionalization courses that prepare them for the rigors of teaching, research, conference presentations, and professional writing.

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Program Outline

Each year, Brown enrolls 10-12 Ph.D. students, who function as a cohort during the first three years of the program. In the fourth year, students work in archival collections and in the field, wherever their research takes them. In the fifth year and beyond, based on that research, each student produces an original dissertation. Completion of the program typically takes 5-7 years, depending on the field, language requirements, and location of materials.

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Teaching Requirement

Candidates for the Ph.D. must normally demonstrate satisfactory performance as a Teaching Assistant in undergraduate courses at Brown, or in teaching at another institution approved by the Department. Currently, doctoral students most commonly teach in years 2, 3, and 5. Students who receive standard funding for year 6 typically TA for one semester and are on fellowship in the second.

Students preparing for the examinations will normally be given preference in the assignments for teaching assistants and proctors. Work loads for such positions will conform to standards set by the Graduate School: "limited enough in scope [requiring no more than 20 hours per week] so that normal progress can be made in the student's educational program."


The Deans’ Faculty Fellows program will award selected students a two-semester academic year appointment as Visiting Assistant Professors, following completion of the Ph.D. degree.
These programs are designed to extend expertise into interdisciplinary areas and to certify training beyond the home Ph.D. discipline.
The Open Graduate Education Program allows select Brown doctoral students to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field.