Graduate Program

About Graduate Study in History at UM

The Department of History offers the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. In our small, selective graduate program--enrolling five to eight students a year--faculty members devote considerable time to each student. The department prides itself on the high quality of its instruction and mentoring and on the intellectual growth and success of its graduate students.

The program builds upon the broad strengths of our faculty in nineteenth-century and twentieth-century U.S. history. Faculty also bring methodological and thematic expertise in political and legal history; social and cultural history; race, religion, and reform; gender and public life; international relations; the history of the American West; and public history. Please visit our individual faculty pages to explore the research and graduate-advising interests of our diverse faculty. Note also that history graduate students have worked closely with faculty in several of UM’s interdisciplinary programs, including African-American Studies, Environmental Studies, Native American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. A unique opportunity for UM's history graduate students is to complete a Graduate Certificate in Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Through the History Department's Public History Program, graduate students in history and other fields can earn a Graduate Certificate in Public History.


Associate Professor Jody Pavilack Director of Graduate Studies


The graduate program is anchored by readings colloquia in which students master the literature of major historical fields and subfields. In addition to foundational courses (e.g. Modern American History; Modern European History; Latin American History), the department offers such specialized topical courses as Law, Capitalism, & Democracy in U.S. History; Race, Religion, & Radicalism in U.S. History; U.S. Women's History; and American Empire.

Research seminars hone students’ research and writing abilities and prepare them to propose and execute substantial thesis and dissertation projects. Recent M.A. and Ph.D. students have researched such topics as battles over dams and water usage in America’s national parks; the political economy of tobacco in the late nineteenth-century U.S.; vocational rehabilitation and social welfare in twentieth-century America; tourism in the late nineteenth-century American West; and the politics of marijuana use and regulation in the long nineteenth century. Please visit our Recent Graduates page to survey the full range of projects undertaken by our M.A. and Ph.D. students. 

For a full listing of our graduate courses, please explore the 500-level courses in the UM course catalog: American History and World History.

seminar room


Lockridge History Workshop

The Lockridge History Workshop, which convenes 5 times each semester, serves as the core of our department’s intellectual life. Among other virtues, it provides graduate students with a forum to present and receive feedback from students and faculty on their research essays and thesis and dissertation chapters. Less formal professional development gatherings provide students with tips on everything from TA-ing to applying for tenure-track jobs, while also acquainting them with employment opportunities outside academia, including public history and publishing. 

Phi Alpha Theta

Phi Alpha Theta, an honors society for history students, provides both M.A. and Ph.D. students with the opportunity to attend and present papers at professional conferences. Many of our students have won awards for their presentations, and some have gone on to turn them into published articles.


MA Program

The MA program prepares students for admission into doctoral programs and for employment in education (junior colleges and private high schools), museums and historical societies, companies specializing in historical research, and elsewhere in the private sector. The department has a long track record of placing its M.A. graduates into the nation’s most competitive doctoral programs, including Yale, Stanford, New York University, University of Virginia, and University of Pennsylvania. Past M.A. graduates have then gone on to tenure-line jobs at many leading universities, including the University of Virginia, the University of Georgia, and the University of Nebraska. Recent M.A. graduates also have landed jobs with several private high schools, the U.S. State Department, the Montana Historical Society, and Historical Research Associates (HRA), a historical consulting firm with offices in Missoula, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

PhD Program

The PhD program prepares students for academic positions at two-year and four-year colleges and universities as well as jobs in public history, government, and the private sector. Recent graduates hold academic positions at Gonzaga University, the University of Montana, Meredith College, and Whatcom Community College. Another recent graduate was hired as Executive Vice President at a private firm specializing in contract historical research. The Ph.D. program also emphasizes writing for publication, and many of our recent graduates have transformed their dissertations into first-rate books.