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Chances for History PhD?

Motormouth512Motormouth512 Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
edited February 2008 in Graduate School
I have a friend who has taken the GRE twice, and is curious about PhD programs in History (Renaissance or Medieval).

On the first GRE he got a 490 V and a 710 Q.
The second time, he got a 590 V and a 750 Q on the GRE

He goes to a small liberal arts college with no stellar reputation.

My friend is a double major in History and Mathematics, with a minor in Art History. His GPA is a 3.9/4.0, with approx. a 3.95 GPA in History. He is a member of the History National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society, Art National Honor Society, and Jesuit National Honor Society. He has studied Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish in college as well. He participates in various activities on campus, and the letters of rec with be great.

What are the chances of getting into the following History PhD programs?
CUNY (Graduate Center)
U of Chicago

Any suggestions would help. Thanks!
Post edited by Motormouth512 on

Replies to: Chances for History PhD?

  • al15al15 Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    It is impossible to tell... but his GRE scores are a bit low. Most of the programs that I have researched recommend having a score that is in the mid-600s or higher. Beyond that, it depends on his statement of purpose, his writing sample, and how well his interests fit those of the faculty. He should talk to his professors about where he should apply.

    It is possible that he will get into any of those schools if he depending on the things mentioned above and that his letters of rec are stellar as you suggest. Or, that he will get into none of them if the above factors aren't up to par. There is no way to tell over an internet forum.
  • Motormouth512Motormouth512 Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    Thanks. Any other thoughts?
  • schamberschamber Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    I've heard, and I believe, that the deal with GRE scores and the top ten programs is that they can't help you but they can hurt you. Perhaps your friend needs to set his sights a bit lower. I'm not sure retaking will help all that much, since most schools will average the two scores together unless the results are so dramatically different that it was clear he took the first test on a day when he had a cold, his dog died, and his car broke down on the way.
  • blukoreablukorea Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    In view of his outstanding GPA, he can certainly benefit himself (i.e. make his numbers look more credible) by improving his GRE scores, as others have noted already. "The deal with GRE scores and the top ten programs is that they can't help you but they can hurt you." I would like to agree with this statement. But if high GRE scores can prevent you from getting hurt, I don't see how they are not "helping" you.

    I think the list looks quite good, though I am no medievalist. University of Toronto is traditionally considered very good in Medieval history. I wonder why it is missing from his list. I can also suggest UC Santa Barbara as a non-top tier addition. I remember that Berkeley (my alma mater) history did not have a particular strength in Medieval history, although they are generally good. Here at Cornell, they seem to have a good mix of senior/junior scholars in Medieval history and literature (their Medieval Studies program is called "Cornucopia"). One senior history specializes in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, which may coincide with your friend's interests.

    I would spend a lot of time on developing a strong SOP. Hope this helps!
  • Motormouth512Motormouth512 Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    Thanks. I think he wants to stay somewhere in the Northeast, but I will definitely pass on your suggestions. Doesn't the University of Toronto require a MA degree before a PhD?

    Correction: He wants a PhD in Early Modern European History
  • BozwellBozwell Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Two of the biggest factors which I believe no one has mentioned here is fit and
    contact with a professor. Your interests have to match the prospective department's pretty closely otherwise you won't do very well in committee meetings. Secondly, a way to overcome low GRE scores ( I was in the same boat as you last year with scores in the low 600's except for an 800 writing section) is to have someone who you have talked to over the course of a couple months. If they fight for you in committee meetings you certainly have a chance.

    Anyone know what the deal is with reapplication? I had to withdraw from a top-10 program because of a family health issue and am re-trying my hand this year with schools that are closer to home, but unfortunately didn't accept me last year. Any insight?
  • Motormouth512Motormouth512 Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    I don't know if it matters, but my friend scored a 6.0 on the Analytical Writing section both times he took the GRE. He just got the score report saying that 96% of people scored lower than a 6.0.

    He decided to apply to Early Modern European PhD programs from Fordham, UPenn, and CUNY.
  • yhinfernoyhinferno Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I am an undergrad at a 1st tier public US Univ.
    Triple major: history, economics, philosophy (not sure if relevant info)
    3.89 GPA
    1590 GRE, 5.0 Writing (kinda low)
    Currently writing a senior thesis
    Want to research labor/economic history

    I applied for:
    U Penn

    What are my chances?
  • yhinfernoyhinferno Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    oh btw, for Yale I applied for American Studies but all other schools for History

    Many thanks in advance!
  • ticklemepinkticklemepink Registered User Posts: 2,764 Senior Member
    You probably should've heard from UCB, Yale, and Harvard already. How did those go? They sent out their decisions last week.

    Graduate school admissions are even more subjective than undergraduate so it's hard to chance anyone.
  • yhinfernoyhinferno Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    oh man that sucks... haven't heard anything for any of them
  • ticklemepinkticklemepink Registered User Posts: 2,764 Senior Member
    go to Grad School Admissions Results, Tips, Forums • thegradcafe.com for results in your field.

    I'm chanting a mantra right now: No news is good news, they're still considering your application! :) These words may be empty but on some levels it is true- if they didn't really want you, they would've let you know ASAP.
This discussion has been closed.