Skip to main content

Graduate Studies - United States

Updated September 2019

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

Brandon Byrd (African American and intellectual)
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) 
Rhonda Y. Williams (gender, race and class politics, urban, social justice)

Emeritus Faculty

Richard Blackett (emeritus, slavery and abolition) 
David Carlton (emeritus, industrialization and labor)

Current Graduate Students

Abena Boakyewa-Ansah 19th Century, African-American Religion
Mary Bridges 20th Century, Capitalism
Kangzhi Chen 20th Century, Political, Presidential and Diplomatic History
Kelsey Ensign 20th Century, Racial Identity Formation and Politics
Jessica Fletcher   the transatlantic slave trade to the Americas 
Hannah Hicks 19th Century, Gender, Medicine and Law
Caroline Johnston 20th Century economic history
Steve Lipson 20th Century, Social and Political History, History of Education
Sarah Nelson 20th Century, U.S. and International History
Patrick Reilly 20th Century history of urban development
Mario Rewers 20th Century, History of Higher Education
E. Kyle Romero 20th Century, History of Humanitarianism and Refugee Politics
Martina Schaefer 20th Century, African-American Activism
Danielle Stubbe 20th Century, Intellectual and Cultural History
Emanuel Stults 20th Century, Cultural and Intellectual History
Kayleigh Whitman 20th Century, American Religious History

Recent Graduates

Justin Hubbard (2019) "'Can't Fool the P Test': American Science, the Department of Defense, and the Unlikely Invention of the War on Drugs, 1945-1980."

Zoe LeBlanc (2019) "Circulating Anti-Colonial Cairo: Decolonizing News Media and the Making of the Third World in Egypt: 1952-1978."

Henry Gorman (2019)  "American Ottomans: Prostestant Missionaries in the Service of an Islamic Empire."

Danyelle Valentine (2019) "An Alternative Diaspora: African American 'Out' Migration to Trinidad and the British West Indies, 1783-1865."

Juliet Larkin-Gilmore (2019) " Native Health on the Move: Public Health and Assimilation on the Lower Colorado River, 1890–1934."

Dean Bruno (2018) "A Place Called Home: Dispossession and Remembrance of a Central New York Landscape."

Danielle Picard (2018) "Analyzing the Human Factor in British Industrial Psychology, 1919-1939." 

Aileen Teague (2018)  "Americanizing Mexican Drug Enforcement: The War on Drugs in Mexican Politics and Society, 1964-1982."

Marjorie Brown (2017) "Diplomatic Ties: Slavery and Diplomacy in the Gulf Coast Region, 1836-1845."

Kelly O’Reilly (2017) “Of the Poor, By the Poor, or For the Poor: Community Health Centers and the War on Poverty.” 

Jenifer Dodd (2016) "'Compulsive Rapism': Psychiatric Approaches to Sexual Violence in the 1980s."

Michell Chresfield (2016) “Problem and Promise: Scientific Experts and the Mixed-Blood in the Modern U.S., 1870-1970.”  

Matthew Owen (2014) "For the Progress of Man: The TVA, Electric Power, and the Environment,1939-1969.”