Graduate Programs


Welcome to the NIU history graduate program. As one of the two oldest Ph.D. programs at NIU, we've been training future historians for decades. We also offer an M.A. degree and an M.A. concentration in public history. Our students work closely with individual faculty on dissertations and M.A. research projects, participate in the profession, and find good jobs after graduating. Our graduate courses offer a wide variety of topics and fields of study.  Graduate study involves more than meeting degree requirements, so consider the many strengths we have to offer.

Outstanding Faculty

You will study at NIU with a faculty deeply committed to teaching and scholarship. Our faculty have published with leading university and commercial presses and historical journals, served as officers of historical associations, won prestigious book prizes and received grants from major foundations.

Mentored Independence

In our programs, you will find both autonomy and guidance. Graduate seminars emphasize discussion of historical literature and methodology in an atmosphere of mutual exchange rather than competition, and advanced coursework is often completed via independent study with your mentors. To accommodate graduate students whose professional or personal and family obligations limit their opportunities for coursework, we schedule most 600- and 700-level seminars during evening hours. We also offer online versions of 500-level courses, especially during the summer terms.

Intellectual Community

As you take courses and do research, you will work with other committed students in a vibrant intellectual atmosphere. The History Graduate Student Association hosts an annual conference, and a regular department “brown bag” lunch series offers an opportunity for faculty members and advanced students to present work in progress in an informal setting. In addition, distinguished historians from other institutions visit campus for the W. Bruce Lincoln Memorial Lecture and for the Graduate Colloquium Lecture. In recent years, speakers have included Richard White, Deborah Cohen, Max Essex, Martha Hodes, Thomas Andrews, Mark Philip Bradley and Susan Pearson.

Proximity to Research Facilities

NIU is conveniently located in the middle of several research centers. On campus, you will find Founders Memorial Library, which houses extensive collections of books, journals,  microforms and digital resources, and the Regional History Center, which contains manuscript records from northern Illinois. Beyond DeKalb, you will have easy access to facilities in Chicago, including the Chicago Historical Society and the Newberry Library, considered one of the strongest private historical libraries in the country. A bit farther afield, you can travel to the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana or the Wisconsin Historical Society at Madison, which has extensive collections especially in American history.