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Graduate Program in History

Department of History

In keeping with the character of Howard as a major historically Black university, the mission of the Department of History derives from the determination of people of African descent to advance and affirm the cause of human freedom, equality, and dignity. Intrinsic to this mission is a perspective on the world that conveys full respect for the integrity and dignity of all people, particularly emphasizing the history and culture of peoples of African origin. It is within this historical-cultural context that the community of scholars in the Department of History is committed to seeking truth, increasing knowledge, producing excellent scholarship and approaching the education of students holistically.

In regard to the discipline of history, creating the opportunity for students to acquire both breadth and depth of knowledge as well as understanding are seminal concerns of this department's faculty. Thus, it is the History Department's mission to provide the student at the undergraduate level with: 1) an appreciation of the discipline of history as a tool for critical thinking and learning, 2) understanding of the process of historical research and reconstruction, 3) substantive knowledge as well as the accurate reconstruction and interpretation of the collective experience of the world's people, and 4) a special emphasis on the history of people of African descent. At the graduate level, the Department of History's mission is to train professional historians and to provide specialized training in the methodology of historical interpretation and research as a basis for leadership in the profession and scholarly community.



The History Department's graduate program reflects the department's concurrent commitment to (1) an accurate reconstruction and interpretation of the collective experiences of the world's people and (2) a special emphasis on African America, Africa, and the African Diaspora. These concordant concerns are in keeping with Howard University's unique character and role as a major American university with a predominantly Black constituency.

The program is designed to allow for both diversity and specialization and is sufficiently flexible to permit the student to have a significant role in fashioning his/her specific degree requirements. While students may major or minor in African, Latin American/Caribbean, and United States history, they may minor in European, and they may choose one of their minors from another discipline. They may also create a program, which is a combination of courses and research projects that will enable them to specialize in African American, African Diaspora, Public, comparative, and women's history. The excellent research and educational facilities in the Washington, D. C. area –including the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution – provide an added dimension to the program's value and make its high objectives more readily attainable.


The Department of History offers a graduate program leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy, with specialization in the history of the United States, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Several combinations of course clusters within the designated fields of specialization may be used to concentrate on certain areas of interest, such as Afro-American, Comparative or Public history. The student is also given the opportunity to sample courses in other departments and schools of the University, while the Consortium allows the student to benefit from courses offered at other universities in the Washington area.*

* The Consortium of Universitiesincludes: American University, Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, University of District of Columbia, University of Maryland, Marymount University, Mount Vernon College and Trinity College.


Admission Requirements

As prescribed by the Graduate School, 30 hours of graduate credit are required for the Master's degree. Additional credit hours for a total of 72 are required for the doctorate. Various factors may make it necessary for the candidate to go beyond the minimum credit requirements. All courses numbered above 200 yield graduate credit. Courses numbered 170 to 199 also yield graduate credit, but only a maximum of 9 hours earned in courses below 200 will be counted toward the degree. Credit hours earned more than five years prior to the term in which the student presents himself for the final oral examination will not be accepted in fulfillment of degree requirements.

This time limit may be waived upon the written recommendation of the Chairman of the Department, based upon special examination of the candidate. Students are expected to complete the requirements in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Graduate School and the Department of History (i.e., for the Master's degree within two to three years and the Ph.D. degree within five to seven years from the date of initial registration in the respective program).

Those who have not graduated within the time frame established will be discontinued and no longer eligible for degrees in the Department of History at Howard University. In order to become degree candidates, students must first demonstrate proficiency in the English language by passing an Expository Writing Examination course. The importance of this requirement can not be over-emphasized. It is recommended that the course or the examination be taken as soon as possible after the student enters the graduate program. Information concerning this requirement may be obtained in the Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department or the Graduate School website

The Executive Committee of the Department of History awards assistantship every year on a competitive basis. Students should consult the Director of Student Relations and Enrollment Management in the Graduate School for current information concerning other sources and types of financial assistance. Some awards are open for application only upon admission for students entering the Graduate School for the first time (e.g., McNair, Douglass Scholars).



Personal Potential Index (PPI)

The PPI measurement is designed to evaluate a prospective student’s potential for graduate study based on six (6) non-cognitive characteristics. The PPI allows applicants the opportunity to provide an enhanced range of attributes often valued as indications of success in graduate school. The applicant may select three (3) faculty recommenders to submit PPI evaluations for review by the prospective program.

If you are currently registered with the ETS for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), you may designate the three (3) PPI evaluations at no additional cost. To submit the PPI reports to the Graduate School at Howard University, visit the ETS website at


The programs that are reviewing ETS/PPI evaluations as part of the admissions review are listed below:

African Studies
Communication and Media Studies
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Genetics and Human Genetics
Mechanical Engineering
Pharmaceutical Science

For more information, please call 202.806.4676.


Admission to Candidacy

A student should file for admission to candidacy after 12 hours of work has been completed and this student has satisfied the GSAS writing proficiency requirement. Forms provided by the dean should be filed a semester before graduation and approved by the student's thesis committee and the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciencec.



Residence Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. program are required to spend at least three semesters in full-time residence, two of which must be consecutive.




Caution to Prospective Students

The Board of Trustees of Howard University on September 24, 1983, adopted the following policy statement regarding applications for admission: "Applicants seeking admission to Howard University are required to submit accurate and complete credentials and accurate and complete information requested by the University. Applicants who fail to do so shall be denied admission. Enrolled students who as applicants failed to submit accurate and complete credentials or accurate and complete information on their application for admission shall be subject to dismissal when the same is made known, regardless of classification."

All credentials must be sent to:

Howard University Graduate School
Office of Graduate Recruitment and Admissions
4th and College Streets, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20059





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