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Graduate Studies at Vanderbilt - United States

Updated October 10, 2018

Vanderbilt ranks among the nation's top twenty research universities and boasts a leading graduate program in United States history. Students in our doctoral program are trained broadly in the historiography of the United States in the nineteenth, twentieth, and now twenty-first centuries. They also have ample opportunities to work in transnational and thematic fields, including African American history, diplomatic history, environmental history, intellectual history, legal history, political history, and religious history as well as the history of capitalism, gender and sexuality, popular culture, race and racism, and science, medicine, and technology. The department has a strong profile in the field of U.S. and the world, and offers students training in transnational approaches. Graduate students and faculty meet regularly as a group to discuss research work in progress in the department's informal Americanist Seminar.

Doctoral students in the field of United States history typically take four semesters of classes, including survey courses in pre- and post-1865 U.S. history, followed by general exams at the end of their fourth semester. The second summer and third year is devoted to developing the dissertation research prospectus and preparing for archival work. Students generally spend their third and fourth years pursuing dissertation research, followed by one to two years of writing. Students are encouraged to complete the thesis by the end of the sixth year.

With a small, diverse cohort accepted each year, doctoral students in U.S. history at Vanderbilt benefit from expert supervision and guidance. Our faculty is committed to excellent mentoring in both research and teaching. Graduate students enjoy close working relationships with their advisors and other faculty inside and outside the department, whether in the Law School or Peabody College of Education or in the departments of medicine, health and society, sociology, philosophy, or religious studies. Faculty assist students as well with grant-writing, conference presentations, article drafting, and preparation for the job market. The department has helped to place students in prestigious fellowships and tenure-track jobs as well as significant research and policy positions outside the academy.

Current faculty include: Richard Blackett (emeritus, slavery and abolition), Brandon Byrd (African American and intellectual), David Carlton (emeritus, industrialization and labor), Jefferson Cowie (capitalism, politics, and culture), Dennis C. Dickerson (civil rights, religion, and labor), Sarah Igo (intellectual/cultural, science, and legal), Paul Kramer (transnational, imperial, and race), Catherine Molineux (race, slavery, and empire), Thomas Schwartz (foreign relations, policy, and modern Europe), Arleen Tuchman (science, medicine, and gender), Daniel Usner (American Indian, borderlands, and material culture), Kimberly Welch (slavery, race, and legal), and Rhonda Y. Williams (gender, race and class politics, urban, social justice).

Current Graduate Students