How do I decide where to pursue a graduate degree in History?

Choosing a graduate program is an important decision. Here are some of the factors our graduate committee suggests that you consider:

Where is the best supervisor for me?

One of the most significant differences between undergraduate and graduate education is the extra attention you receive as a graduate student from your supervisor. Every MA and PhD student will have a faculty supervisor to guide their research on their cognate, thesis, or dissertation. The first consideration, then, for prospective graduate students is who might supervise you, given your intended area of study. You may also want to inquire how many other students your potential supervisor is already supervising. As you investigate potential supervisors, look to see what they are teaching now, what they have just published, and whether they are planning to be on leave next year (especially if you're entering a one-year program).

Prospective students should be aware that the graduate committee considers whether their department has at least one appropriate supervisor for you when they make admission decisions. Your grade average, past performance, research proposal, and letters of reference also matter, but who will supervise you is a key factor. So visit our list of faculty specializations and research potential supervisors. Our faculty welcome inquiries from prospective students. So send us an email.

How deep is the department's strengths in my field(s) of interest?

In addition to your potential supervisor(s), you should consider many other faculty members and graduate students in the department that are working in your field. You will take courses from several faculty members, and at least one other will serve as second reader on your major research project. If you eventually decide to pursue a different project or work under a different supervisor, it will be crucial to have alternative experts in your department. Furthermore, consider where the faculty member in your field was trained: as you complete your degree and seek employment, their network of contacts may be able to assist your job search. Fellow students working in that area will provide a supportive peer community for your research and writing. Also look to see what the undergraduate course offerings are, as you may be able to be a tutorial leader for a course in your area of interest as well.

How generous is the funding package?

Some universities do not fund all of their graduate students, and many do not provide any funding for MA students. Ask the graduate chair in any department you are considering to provide a clear accounting of their funding package and any tuition and fees you will be expected to cover. At Western full time domestic MA students receive $19,605 for domestic MA tuition and fees, based on a Western scholarship and pay for work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and pay approximately $9,000 per year in tuition and fees, so they net roughly $10,600 to live on. Domestic PhD students receive a minimum of $26,786 per year (for four years) and so they net about $18,000 per year to live on.

You should also seek information on external scholarships (e.g. SSHRC, CGSM, OGS) and university scholarships. Calculate the cost of living for that community (including rent) since that varies depending on whether the university is in a small or mid-sized city versus a large urban centre. Financial information

What are the strengths of the program?

What kinds of graduate courses will be offered? Are they general or specific? Do they focus on skills (writing, teaching, methods) or content? How many choices will you have? How many courses will you be required to take per term?

Western's history department typically offers 12 graduate courses per term (Fall and Winter) and the include content-based courses in Canadian, U.S., and International History as well as methods courses in writing, digital methods, and cultural theory.

Our department offers a diverse array of graduate courses. Most graduate seminars have 10-12 students. Most graduate students serving as TAs will also attend weekly lectures and lead two tutorial sections of a larger undergraduate lecture course.

What does London, Ontario have to offer?

London is an affordable mid-sized city with many of the amenities of a larger metropolis. It's a university town with a vibrant student community. It is conveniently located within driving distance to many archives, museums, and universities in southern Ontario. London offers reliable public transit and very accessible shopping and entertainment, some of which caters directly to the student community. Western's campus is one of the prettiest in Canada. It is conveniently located within walking distance from downtown, and it's integrated within the city. Some graduate programs are isolated, others are largely populated by faculty and students who commute from relatively far away. Most faculty and graduate students at Western live and play here in London. For more information on London, please visit here.

Are the current graduate students in this department satisfied with their experience?

The best people to ask about graduate programs are the students who are in them, or who have graduated from them.

At Western, the history graduate students will be happy to tell you about our programs. Ask them about our graduate courses, thesis writing groups, social events, the Network of Women in History, Professional Development Workshops, and about supports from beyond the department at the University, such as the Wellness Education Centre, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

You can find their e-mail addresses in their profiles, and we suggest you ask them questions about their supervisors, committees, courses, research and teaching, and life in London.

What can I do with a degree in History?

Alumni of our graduate programs are employed in a variety of sectors, including in law and business, as teachers and academics, in local, provincial, and federal governments, and in libraries, archives, and museums. Check out some Western History alumni, and where they are now after having completed their graduate degrees in History.   Students considering applying for an MA or PhD are encouraged to do their research about possible career paths. Talk to your undergraduate professors of History, the Graduate Program Coordinator and Graduate Chair at Western History, and Career Centres at your undergraduate university or at Western, and search for articles by professional organizations such as Canadian Historical Association or the National Council on Public History.  Information about Public History jobs and internships is found on the Western History Department’s Public History webpage.