Graduate Programs

We offer both master's and doctoral degree programs in a range of geographical and thematic areas of research. Small enough to provide individualized attention and large enough to be known internationally, our programs are characterized by a vibrant intellectual environment. We invite interested students to contact potential supervisors about their research plans and to visit the university for a tour of its facilities.

Admission Requirements

Candidates for the one year MA degree must hold a BA four year degree in history or a general history BA degree. Candiates for the PhD should hold a Masters degree in history. See our "How to Apply" page for more details. 

Application deadlines

January 16, 2024 is the departmental admissions application deadline for those who wish to be considered for internal scholarships. Visit the funding page at the Faculty Graduate Studies for more information on how to apply for internal funding opportunities. Note: Applications to Dalhousie's major funding competitions (SSHRC, Killam, and the Harmonized Scholarship Process) are seperate from admissions and applications and are due earlier than Janurary 16th. 

Otherwise, the application deadlines are:

for Canadian applicants June 1st, 2024.

for international applicants April 1st, 2024.

Applications must be complete by these deadlines. 

Scholarship funding

The History Department cannot guarantee funding for PhD applications, and only modest funding for M.A. applications.

All applicants are strongly encouraged to inform themselves about SSHRC applications (due in October for PhD and December for MA), as well as the Harmonized Scholarship Process

Please email if you have any questions concerning admissions and funding.

The Masters Program

Our master's program is a thesis-based degree. Students take two four-month courses, a seminar on historical method, and then embark on thesis research and writing. Master's students typically take 12 to 16 months to complete the program and produce a thesis of roughly 120 to 140 pages in length.

Master's graduates have gone on to doctoral studies at prestigious universities across North America and in Europe, in addition to entering a range of professional programs and employments.

Consult the graduate handbook where you will find comprehensive information about application, admission, program features, deadlines, etc.

The PhD Program

Our doctoral students pursue three fields of study (two major and one minor). Students complete comprehensive examinations 12 months after beginning the program, present a thesis proposal before the department, and then engage in dissertation research and writing, with the expectation of finishing at the end of their fourth year of registration.

We do not guarantee funding to our Graduate Students.

Our doctoral students have an outstanding record of placements in tenure-track positions.

Consult the graduate handbook where you will find comprehensive information about application, admission, program features, deadlines, etc.

Graduate History: Motives and Ideas

As the American poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren wrote: "Historical sense and poetic sense should not, in the end, be contradictory, for if poetry is the little myth we make, history is the big myth we live, and in our living, constantly remake."

Just as individuals need to know who they are and how they arrived where they are, groups, classes, states and nations are actively engaged in constructing their vision of the past for a variety of purposes. In this sense, the past has been and continues to be shaped, moulded, and (occasionally) twisted to serve the interests of various groups and constituencies. The job of the responsible historian is to identify these often competing historical discourses and to determine to what extent certain constructed views of the past are more helpful than others. In this sense, we must approach the past with an eye towards its competitive plurality; as the American historian Warren Susman (d. 1985) put it: "Myth, memory, history - these are three alternative ways to capture and account for an elusive past, each with its own persuasive claim."

The academic study of history aims to discover as much as possible of the reality of the past and interpret human behaviour in its changes through time. History is scientific in the way it uses evidence, but it is still an art, because the reconstruction of the past requires a disciplined imagination and an effective rhetoric.

Historical understanding is a matter of interpretation, offering explanations for events and movements subject to constant revision by scholars. Arguments, scepticism and controversy are the very stuff of history. The history student does not merely acquire a particular mass of information, but learns to think independently.

Our students participate in the weekly Stokes Seminar series and organize an annual graduate history conference. Past and current students have had an excellent record in acquiring major external fellowships, such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) grants.