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Applying to Graduate School

Many graduates of the Old Dominion University Department of History pursue further work in graduate school in history or other areas of the humanities and social sciences. The most important qualification for graduate study is curiosity, but you might also take steps to prepare yourself in practical ways for more specialized work in history and other fields.

The web makes research into graduate education much easier than in the past. A variety of general web sites offer insight into the experience and financing of graduate school, and the application process. Private institutions are sometimes in a position to finance the education of every student they admit to their program. More commonly, however, students work as teaching assistants and research assistants, and compete for external funding to support their dissertation projects. Take the time to look at the web sites of particular schools and programs that interest you. You should right away be able to get a sense of the interests of faculty members, the topics explored in their seminars, and perhaps even the general intellectual climate of the program. Perhaps they list their current students, and identify their dissertation topics.

Work hard to develop and clarify your interests. Have you begun to explore particular topics that you wish to learn more about in graduate school? Have you written a significant research paper in a class or seminar at ODU that might serve as the foundation for future work? Do you have a reading knowledge of the languages that will be necessary to your future work? If not, what are your plans for remedying this? Which professors are in a position to write letters of recommendation on your behalf? The recommendation process might seem a bit mysterious to the uninitiated, but in practice it tends to be very straightforward. Professors do not need to know you personally, but they need to have worked with you in class and read your work in order to share useful information with the graduate programs. They need to be familiar with your written work in order to assess your aptitude for such work in the future.

Maintain your basic math skills in order to perform well on the required Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Good luck!