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.

The MA Program

Application deadlines:

We begin considering applications in January 2017, and internal scholarship decisions have a deadline of, Thursday, January 31st, 2019. 

Except in extraordinary circumstances, no applications for admission are considered after the following deadlines:

for Canadian applicants June 1st, 2018

for international applicants April 1st, 2018

Applications must be complete by these deadlines. 

Scholarship funding:  The History Department receives modest university funding; therefore we cannot guarantee funding.  If you are a candidate for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) scholarship, you should look into applying for one either through the university where you are enrolled in 2018-2019.  Or, if you are not currently a student, you can inquire directly to the SSHRC about their "Talent" program at http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/umbrella_programs-programme_cadre/talent-eng.aspx

Please contact Valerie Peck, Graduate Secretary, if you have any questions concerning admissions and funding.valerie.peck@dal.ca  


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

Note: Prospective students Interested in Funding for a PhD beginning in the 2017-18 Academic Year should contact Graduate Coordinator Justin Roberts) in September, 2016.

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.

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.