Graduate Program

Graduate Program

Seventeen years ago, we created three exciting nodes of excellence. They are Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History (ARE); War, Power, and International Affairs (WPIA); and History of Science and Technology (HOST). A few years ago we added a fourth specialty: Identity: Gender, Race and Region (RIGR). Each doctoral student takes a field in at least one of these four specialties. The vast majority of theses and dissertations encompass some aspect of one or more of those fields.

We conceive of our nodes of excellence broadly. For example, subjects as diverse as military history, international relations, municipal police agencies, paramilitary organizations--particularly prominent in southern history--and homeland security fit comfortably within WPIA. Rural enclaves, environmentalism, agribusiness, plantation society, farming practices, tenant farming, agricultural price support policies, logging and community studies are done under the ARE rubric. HOST entails studies of eugenics, technical education, medical theories, aerospace, cancer research, national science policy, health care, popular science, and local industries.

At least as exciting has been the crossing over between two or more of these nodes. Topics such as adoption of technology among African-American sharecroppers combine several departmental strengths. So too does the relationship among colonial European powers and the conquest of tropical disease or Confederate soldiers and naval shipyards. The attempt to establish chemical industries using agricultural products in rural Mississippi during World War II brings together several nodes. So too does Jimmy Carter's embargo on agricultural products-grain and technology--to the Soviet Union.

Each node is organized around a fundamental seminar. Other course offerings to prepare graduate students in the nodes of excellence are selected with the individual in mind; courses required in each case depend on a discussion among the graduate student and graduate committee members.

Our graduate program is totally distinct from our undergraduate program. Graduate students take only graduate classes. Each of our graduate classes is limited to eight students. Keeping classes to eight or less enables us to offer significant individual attention to each student in a class. Graduate classes, moreover, are NOT based on lecture. They are of two forms: Colloquium and Seminar. The colloquium is arranged around what historians have written on a particular subject or field. It can emphasize new approaches to the study of the past, new interpretations of longstanding issues or new insights that open a new field of study. They are based on a shared experience as the common theme allows each graduate student to learn from each of the other students in the course. The seminar is where original research occurs. Graduate students learn about how to do research, how to write papers, and how and where to present or publish their efforts. And they do it. In some seminars, presentation at a professional meeting or publication in a professional journal becomes essentially the final exam. In any case, seminars are where original research is undertaken and new knowledge is created.


MSU Admission Requirements

Each applicant must submit the following materials to the Office of Graduate Studies

  1. Completed application form
  2. Statement of purpose for graduate study
  3. Letters of recommendation
  4. Transcripts

For more information, visit Office of Graduate Studies

Additional History Department Requirements

The History Department expects applicants to have a GPA of 3.00 in their last two years of undergraduate study.

The prerequisite for admission to a graduate program in history is a minimum of 18 hours of undergraduate history courses; for a graduate minor in history, 12 hours of undergraduate history courses are required.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program may take the Graduate Record Examination. If that option is selected, applicants should ask the Educational Testing Service to send the scores directly to Mississippi State University.

Each applicant to the Ph.D. program must submit a writing sample directly to the Graduate Coordinator of the History Department. Examples of acceptable writing samples are publications, chapters from a thesis, or a seminar paper.

Applicants should understand that the History Department uses the Statement of Purpose as a major factor in making admissions decisions. It is to the applicant's advantage to take special care in completing this statement. Applicants should add additional pages to the Statement of Purpose if necessary.

Completed applications should be received in the History Department by November 1 for admission for the spring semester and by April 1 for admission for the fall semester. Normally, applicants will receive an admission decision within 30 days after the recepit of all required materials.

Categories of Admission

Regular Admission:

The applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, and meet the History Department's requirements for admission.

Provisional Admission:

An applicant not satisfying the History Department's minimum requirements can be admitted on a provisional basis, but must earn a 3.00 grade point average in his or her first nine hours of graduate work at MSU to be converted to regular admission.

Contingent Admission:

This category of admission is reserved for students not meeting a specific requirement, but who seem likely to meet it in the near future. This category is most often used for applicants who have completed the requirements for degrees which have yet to be formally awarded.

Unclassified Admission:

This admission status is normally reserved for students desiring graduate study for purposes other than earning an advanced degree. It may be used, however, by students who have not completed the formal admission process, but who wish to begin taking history courses immediately. A student may take graduate courses at Mississippi State as an unclassified student without going through the Office of Graduate Studies or departmental screening process. If an unclassified student is later admitted to a degree program, he or she may transfer up to nine hours of credit into that program. Taking courses does not in any way signify or guarantee admission to the History Department's graduate program.

International Students:

International students intending to pursue a graduate degree in history must meet all regular requirements and, in addition, present a Test of English as a Foreign Language score of 550 or higher. This requirement does not apply to international students with degrees from an American institution, nor to students from countries where English is the primary language.

Graduate Fields in History

The Department of History offers graduate fields in a wide variety of areas, the principal fields are listed below. (Please consult the Graduate Handbook for a complete list.)

Nodes of Excellence:

Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History

War, Power, and International Affair

History of Science and Technology

Identity: Gender, Race and Region


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • United States
  • Latin America


  • African-American
  • Southern
  • Diplomatic
  • Intellectual
  • Military


  • Imperialism, Colonialism, and Decolonization
  • U.S. Gender

Not all of the fields listed above are available for dissertation research or as the major field for a Master of Arts degree.

Exam Information

Common Exam Dates Spring 2023

February 13-24 and April 3-18.

Common Examiners for Spring 2023

Professor Marshall- Early America

Professor Freeman- Modern America

Common Examiners for the 2023-2024 Academic Year

Professor Hersey- Early America

Professor Giesen- Modern America

Financial Aid for Graduate Students

Financial Assistance administered by the Office of Financial Aid:

  1. College Work-Study
  2. Mississippi Guaranteed Student Loans (Stanford Loans)
  3. Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS)

Information about the above forms of financial aid may be obtained from:

Department of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships
P. O. Box AB
Mississippi State, MS 39762

Financial Assistance administered by the Office of Graduate Studies:

Information about Minority and McNair Fellowships may be obtained from:
Office of Graduate Studies
P. O. Box G
Mississippi State, MS 39762

Financial Assistance administered by the History Department:

Teaching and Research Assistantships, Dissertation Fellowships

The History Department awards a number of teaching, dissertation, and research assistantships each year to its most outstanding students.

Applications for assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships administered by the History Department must be submitted directly to the History Department before March 1, and awards will be made later that month.

Application Form:

For more information about Departmental Financial Aid, Contact Graduate Coordinator, Andrew F. Lang.

Financial Aid available through the Social Science Research Center:

History graduate students are also eligible for research assistantships in the Social Science Research Center (SSRC). Graduate students awarded an SSRC assistantship will typically assist faculty members out of the history department engaged in large-scale collaborative projects.

Information about these assistantships may be obtained from:
Social Science Research Center
P. O. Box 5287
Mississippi State, MS 29762

Funding for Graduate Students to Present their Research at Professional Meetings.

Both the Graduate School and the Arts & Sciences college both provide money to graduate students to present their research at professional meetings. Both programs REQUIRE students to apply during two distinct windows. The first window for the graduate school is October 1-February 8 for travel between January 1 and June 30. The second application window is April 1-September 30 for travel between July 1 and December 31.  For more information, see

Arts & Sciences is different. Its windows are May 15 for July 1-December 31 travel and November 15 for January 1-June 30 travel. Please see for further rules and regulations.

The department of history in some years may be able to help graduate students present their research at professional meetings. But money for these activities differs from year to year and sometimes even month to month.

In any case, to be eligible for department funding, a graduate student MUST apply for money from both the graduate school and the arts & sciences college. Without those two applications, the department will provide no money.

The amount of help the department can provide varies and it varies beyond the money available. Excellent, though expensive, meetings likely will require more departmental support than inexpensive regional presentations. The quality of the meeting also matters. A major national meeting of a landmark organization is likely to be supported more heavily that a graduate student gathering in a nearby city.

In any case, you will need to make a formal application for department funds after you have applied for funding from the graduate school and A & S college. There are no specific department windows through which to apply.