Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I apply?
A. Please refer to this webpage for thorough instructions: /content/bc/schools/gsas/admissions/howtoapply.html

Applicants should submit an online application through this website: /content/bc/schools/gsas/admissions/applynow.html.  If submitting hard copy application items, please mail to the admissions processing center:

Boston College
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Gasson Hall 108
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Do not mail materials in to the History Department.

Q. Is it possible to apply for both the PhD and the MA program?
A. On the online application, applicants can indicate that they would like to be considered for the MA program in case they are not accepted into the PhD program.

Q. Is there a way to check if my application is complete?
A. If you submitted the application form online, you should receive an e-mail from BC containing a username and password to log into the Agora Portal. Through Agora you can check the status of your application by clicking on the Application Status tab. You must choose the correct school to which you applied. If you applied to a number of BC Graduate Schools, you will only receive one e-mail containing the above information.

Q. Do I need an undergraduate History degree in order to apply? 
A. Not necessarily. Having a BA in History helps, but it is not required. If your undergraduate degree is not in History or in a related field in the Humanities or Social Sciences, you will need to have taken some History courses and to demonstrate knowledge of the discipline in your statement of purpose.

Q. Do I need to take the GRE? If so, is there a minimum score requirement?
A. You need to take the GRE general test, but not the subject test in History. There is no required minimum score. The code for submitting your GREs to Boston College is 3083.

Q. What should I include in my Statement of Purpose? 
A. The statement should explain how you have arrived at the decision to apply to graduate school in History, what you want to study, and why you want to study it here at Boston College.

Q. What sort of writing sample should I submit? 
A. Submit the best piece of historical analysis you have written. Usually, that will be a research or historiographical paper or part of a senior or MA thesis that has been evaluated and graded by your teachers. Do not submit more than 15 or at most 20 pages.  In the case of theses, send a portion of the manuscript explaining how it fits into the manuscript as a whole.

Q. How many students does the graduate program admit? 
A. Our incoming class typically consists of 10 to 15 MA students and 6 PhD students.

Q. How and when are admissions decisions made? 
A. Although you apply centrally to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, admissions are decided by the History Department. The departmental Graduate Committee seeks excellence in all aspects of the application: numerical scores, statement of purpose, writing sample, and letters of recommendation. The committee generally examines Ph.D. applications during the month of February and MA applications during the month of March.

Q. What are the deadlines for application, admissions offers, and acceptance? 
A. The application deadline is January 2 for the PhD program and February 1 for the MA program. We try to make offers of admission to the PhD program by early March with an acceptance deadline of April 15th.  MA offers are typically made in late March with an acceptance deadline of June 1.

Q. What degrees does the Graduate Program in History at Boston College offer? 
A. We offer both MA and PhD degrees. Getting an MA degree from the BC program does not guarantee entry into our PhD program, which has a separate admissions process.

Q. Is part-time enrollment possible? 
A. Ph.D. students must enroll full-time during their first two years in the program.  M.A. students are welcome to enroll part-time but must take at least four courses (12 credits) during the regular academic year.

Q. Do students receive funding?
A. All PhD students receive multi-year fellowships featuring a Teaching Assistantship, full tuition remission, and an annual stipend.  The department cannot guarantee funding for MA students, but it will typically hire several MA students every year to work as Teaching Assistants.  These positions come with a monthly stipend.

Q. Do I need an MA to enter the PhD program?
A. No.

Q. If I have an MA from another university, will I be able to transfer all of these credits? 
A. Probably not. You may petition to get credit for one or two courses, but it is usually best to follow the prescribed course of study toward the degree and take as many courses as you can.

Q. Does the History Department offer dual degrees? 
A. The Lynch School of Education at Boston College offers MEd and MAT degrees with a concentration in History. These degrees would prepare you for a career as a teacher of history at the secondary-school level. For admissions information about these programs, you should contact the Lynch School at 617-552-4214. You can also visit the LSOE website.  Boston College does not currently offer joint JD/MA or JD/PhD degrees.

Q. What are the foreign language requirements?
A. PhD students will need to pass two foreign language exams (except for Medievalists who need to pass three) and MA candidates need to pass one.  Prior language competence is not necessarily required when you apply for admission.

Q. If I have further questions, who can answer them?

  • If you have questions about submitting an application, contact the Graduate School at
  • If you have general questions about the graduate program in history, contact the Graduate Programs Assistant, Kathryn Collins, at
  • If you have questions about the academic content of the History graduate programs, contact the Director of Graduate Studies in History, Professor Devin Pendas, at
  • If you would like to talk to individual faculty members with whom you might work, contact them directly at the addresses listed here.