How do I apply to Graduate Studies at Kent State University?

How do I apply to Graduate Studies at Kent State University? 

Applying to graduate school is an important decision, and a substantial process. Here are some suggestions for how you can navigate this process successfully: 

What We Require for Admission

Your process should begin about a year before you plan to begin graduate school.  First, look though our department’s admissions guidelines to be sure you meet requirements. To apply to our MA program, you must have 12 undergraduate hours in the discipline of History with at least a 3.3 GPA in these courses. This cannot include classes in adjacent fields such as Art History, or classes about history taught by faculty members in other disciplines (A History of Jazz class taught by a music school faculty member would not count, for instance).  

To apply to our PhD program, you must have an MA in either history or a related field (here, an Art History MA would count).  


Our deadlines for admission are November 15 for Spring Admission, and Feb 1 for Fall Admission and for graduate funding.  

What You Should Ask Yourself

Decide why you want to attend graduate school, and what you hope to do with your degree. If you are thinking of pursuing an MA, do you hope to continue on to a PhD? Do you hope to work in a museum or archive, or teach at the High School level?

Decide what basic area you would like to focus on in your studies. Generally, people come to a graduate program with some sense of where their interests are, geographically, thematically and temporally. You do not need to have a topic for a thesis or dissertation in mind, but you should be able to say something such as: “I am interested in the daily lives of factory workers in Ohio in the mid-20th century” or "I would like to research Thai nationalism in the twentieth century" or “I would like to work on tactics of woman suffragists in the progressive era”. These interests are not set in stone, and our graduate students often find that their interests change by the time they begin to write their thesis, but they will give you and us a sense of whether our program is likely a good fit for your interests. 

If you are hoping to apply to our PhD program, you should decide which of our three areas of focus are the best fit for you: States of Violence, History of Everyday Life, or Rust Belt Studies. It is fine if more than one describes your interest, but if your area of interest does not relate to any of the three, this is a sign that our program may not be a good fit for you. 

Explore our Faculty

Review our History Department faculty. Any faculty member on the Kent campus can serve as your advisor. You will work with many faculty members during your time at Kent and you may choose to work with faculty in other departments at Kent State if you have an interdisciplinary focus, but your primary faculty advisor must be a History Department faculty member. Though you will not formally select an advisor until the second semester of the program, you need to indicate on your application who you would be likely to work with. You may want to read scholarship published by faculty members who you are considering working with to get a better sense of their work. Even if you are planning to take the non-thesis track in our program, so will not have a formal advisor, you should consider who you would like to work most closely with in the department. 

Contact Us

Once you have ideas of a person or people you may want to work with in our program, you should reach out to our program. If you are applying to the MA program, it is usual to contact our graduate coordinator first, though you can also reach out to a potential supervisor directly if you have questions that you think they could best answer. If you are applying to our PhD program, you should reach out directly to a potential supervisor, and only reach out to the graduate coordinator if you have trouble reaching that person or if you have logistical questions about the program or admissions process. 

Letters of Recommendation

About three months before you plan to apply, you should reach out to potential writers of letters of recommendation and ask if they would be willing to write you a letter for our program. Letter writers should be people who are familiar with your academic work, and who are capable of judging whether you would be likely to succeed in a graduate program in history. Usually, these letters are written by history faculty members with whom you have taken classes. Occasionally they are written by faculty members from other disciplines, or by people who have supervised you in history-related jobs or internships. You should not submit letters written by people unfamiliar with your academic work or unable to judge its quality such as former employers from non-history-related jobs or people who know you socially. It is not unusual for people who have been out of school for a few years to reach out to people who taught them several years ago and ask for a letter. 

Writing Sample

You should also decide what you might want to submit for a writing sample. This should be at least 12 pages long, should have a thesis, and should draw on both primary and secondary sourcing. Usually, this is a history research paper. This paper should demonstrate that you can write clearly and well, that you can develop an interesting thesis, and that you can defend it with a combination of well-selected primary and secondary research. You can feel free to improve on a paper that you have already submitted for another purpose before using it as your writing sample.  

Statement of Purpose

This document should be around 500 words long and should explain to us why you would like to study in our department. We use the document primarily to determine whether you are a good fit for what we have to offer, though the Statement of Purpose also gives us a sense of your writing, research, and reasoning skills. The statement of Purpose should tell us a bit about who you are as a scholar, what you are interested in studying, why you think Kent State is a good place for you to pursue your degree, why your interests are a good fit for our program’s strengths, which faculty member or members you are interested in studying with and why, and what you hope to do with your degree.  

If there are any elements of your application that you think require explanation, this is a good place to provide that explanation.  

Can I attend part time or without pursuing a degree?

Some students attend our graduate school part time, working towards a degree, and others take classes with us for their own sake, without pursuing a degree. Because most of our classes are in the evening, it is often possible to take a class while working.

If you plan to pursue a degree part time, you should apply to the program just as you would for full-time, but reach out to the graduate coordinator to discuss institutional time-to-degree limitations and other logistical issues. It is fairly straightforward to earn a MA degree part-time, but tricker, given these limitations, to earn a PhD part-time.

If you want to take a graduate class without pursuing a degree, we will still need to evaluate your qualifications to assess whether you are prepared to succeed in the class, but you will apply through a less competitive "Graduate Non-Degree Student" process.

If you are considering pursuing a graduate degree but have been out of school for a while and so are finding it challenging to put together a strong application, for instance, you might consider applying as a non-degree student, taking a class or two to introduce yourself to the program, and then applying to the degree program. Classes taken as a non-degree student will be retroactively applied to a degree, should you later be admitted to the program.

Student taking classes part time or as non-degree students are not eligible for funding.

Submitting Your Application

Go here to submit your graduate application. International students follow the steps for "Graduate International Students." Domestic students follow the steps for "Graduate Degree Students."  You will request your undergraduate transcript and, if relevant, your MA transcript.