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Applying to the MA Program in History

Click on the links below for answers to specific questions:

How do I apply to the MA Program in History at Portland State?

What are the application deadlines?

Are there any financial aid or teaching assistant opportunities for applicants?


How do I apply to the MA Program in History at Portland State?

Admission to the MA Program in History requires submitting TWO separate applications: one application goes to the Portland State University Admissions Office, and one application goes to the History Department.

Both applications must be received by the respective offices before a decision for program admission can be finalized. Both applications can be submitted on-line.


Application 1: University Admissions Office

The University application is completed by going to the PSU Office of Admissions website (click here).

Use the major code HST for the MA in History. You must submit a non-refundable $50 application fee, payable via Visa or Master Card. You will also need to send an official (sealed) transcript fromeach post-secondary institution you have attended. Mail your official transcripts to:

Office of Admissions
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751

If you have questions about the University application or admissions process, please contact the Admissions Office directly via the contact form at their website (click here) or by phone (503-725-3511). Do not send the University Admissions Office materials or fee to the History Department. The amount of the application fee is subject to change by the Oregon University System.

If your first language is not English or if your primary and secondary education were completed in another language, the Admissions Office requires proof of English language proficiency. The History Department cannot waive this requirement.

Application 2: History Department

The History Department uses ApplyWeb, an on-line application system which allows the electronic submission of all components of the departmental application, including personal statement, writing samples, transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.  There is no fee for the Departmental application.

To access the application form, go to the PSU-College of Liberal Arts and Sciences ApplyWeb website (click here). To start the process, create a username and password by selecting the link "Create Your Account." You can either complete and submit the application in one session, or save your work and continue it later. When filling out the form:

  • To save what you have done so far, click the Save button.
  • To save your work and exit to continue later, click the Finish Session or Save and Exit buttons.
  • If you receive a Data Validation Error, you have either skipped a required field or incorrectly entered required information. Look over the form for any fields marked with an error message such as "This is a required field."
  • To navigate through the form without submitting the required fields or data (to come back to these fields later), click the Postpone Data Validation button.
  • To access an application in progress and resume work on it, select Review Your Activity and click the Work on Form button.

Note: Once you submit a completed application, you cannot make any corrections, apart from editing information for letters of recommendation. Please verify all your entries before making your final submission.

Step-by-step Instructions for Departmental On-Line Application

Page 1. Enter your name and contact information. Select "History" for Application Area of Interest.

Page 2. Enter the information for all post-secondary institutions you have attended. Include any institution from which you have received college-level or graduate credits, regardless of whether or not you completed a degree program. Upload a legible copy of a transcript from each institution (in PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG, or TIF format). Unofficial transcripts or photocopies are acceptable (unlike for the University application) as long as they list course titles and grades in chronological (term-by-term) order. Degree audits are therefore usually not acceptable.

Page 3. Since the History Department offers only the MA degree, your only choice here will be the term of application. The History Department prefers to make admissions for fall term, and reserves the right to defer any application for other terms to the subsequent fall application cycle.

Page 4. If you wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship in the History Department, click yes. For incoming graduate students, no application materials beyond the program application are necessary. Teaching assistants usually work with one of our undergraduate classes; assignments vary from term to term. Assistantships are for the academic year, subject to satisfactory performance. Renewal for a second year is possible but not guaranteed. Assistantships are defined as 0.30 FTE positions and receive a tuition remission and stipend per PSU Office of Graduate Studies (click here) standards. Information about other fellowship opportunities appears later in the form. Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis; we are unable to provide them for all of our graduate students.

A resume/curriculum vitae is optional; you should use your statement of intent (see below) to describe any relevant preparation or experience other than college coursework.

Designate your main field(s) of interest, defined geographically, thematically, and/or chronologically, e.g., American women's history, medieval Europe, 20th-century Middle East, history of modern science, etc. If you are interested in the public history or world history tracks, select the appropriate option. See the Department's website (click here) for description of the special requirements for these two tracks. Public history and world history track students should also designate field(s) of interest.

The University requires completion of at least two years of college-level study of a foreign language, or passing an equivalency exam, for all MA degrees. Completion of this requirement is not itself a requirement for admission; however, please be aware that if you haven't already completed this requirement, you will need to plan for language study as part of your academic program.

Beyond the University's language requirement, many fields of advanced historical study require competency in non-English language(s) in order to conduct research, i.e., to read primary and/or secondary sources.  Study beyond the second college year may be a practical necessity. This is particularly the case for many fields outside of the U.S., but may also be relevant for some American history topics. At the Department's discretion, admission in these fields may include conditions for language study as part of your academic program. We urge you to consult an advisor in your chosen field if you have questions about appropriate language preparation. 

Page 5. Indicate your scores and percentiles from the general GRE test. (We do not require a subject test.) Any exam date is acceptable as long as you have a copy of the official score report. Note: if you have not yet taken the GRE, please enter the date you expect to take the exam, and either 00 or "N/A" for scores; this will allow you to submit your application to the department. However, know that your application status will not be considered finalized until the department has received your official GRE scores from ETS.

If English is not your first language, please indicate your TOEFL/IELTS score. The History Department adheres to the general university policy regarding minimum English language proficiency requirements for graduate admission. 

Upload a statement of intent, of a page or two in length, that addresses the following questions: Why do you want to obtain a Master’s degree in history? If admitted, what geographic and/or thematic field(s) would you be most interested in studying and why? How have you prepared yourself to undertake advanced study in this field? How would the MA Program in History at PSU serve your interests in terms of curriculum, faculty research areas, or program specialties? If there are relevant aspects of your background that do not appear elsewhere in the application, you may discuss them in your statement of intent. Submit this document in PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, or TXT format.

Upload two writing samples, preferably history research papers. In addition to showing good writing skills, your work samples should demonstrate your ability to frame and support a historical argument, to conduct independent research, and to think critically about appropriate primary and secondary sources. The work samples should show your best accomplishments in historical research and writing. They are a crucial component of the application. Submit these documents in PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, or TXT format. (Note: we understand that the application module does not allow uploading of more than one attachment, so please combine your writing samples into a single attachment for upload.)

In addition to departmental teaching assistantships (see above), History graduate students are eligible for two other fellowships: the Rose Tucker Fellowship at the Oregon Historical Society (usually serving as an editorial intern with theOregon Historical Quarterly), and the Caroline P. Stoel Fellowships at the Pacific Historical Review editorial office in our Department. Both of these fellowship opportunities require additional application materials as indicated. Semi-finalists may be contacted for an interview as part of the selection process. 

For other scholarship and fellowship opportunities, consult the PSU Office of Graduate Studies website. See also the University Studies website about graduate mentorships in PSU's general education program.

Page 6. Enter information for two letters of recommendation. (You may submit more recommendations if you wish, but two will suffice.) Ideally, letters should come from individuals who can comment on your academic performance and preparation in skills relevant for advanced study in research in history. Other professional references may be substituted in some cases, as we realize that some applicants may be several years removed from their undergraduate programs.

Page 7. When you have finished working on your application, click the Submit button. Note: Once the form is submitted, no corrections are possible, so please double-check that all your information is complete and correct.

If you have questions about the Departmental application, please contact the History Department office:, 503-725-3917.


What are the application deadlines?

Please note that the History Department has set Feburary 15 as the deadline for Fall term applications. (As with several PSU departments, our deadline is earlier than the one set by the University.)

Deadlines for submitting application materials (based on term of intended entry):

Fall Term: February 15 (the Department prefers Fall term admissions)
Winter Term: September 1  
Spring Term: November 1
Summer Term: February 1

 Please note that the History Department strongly prefers to make admissions for fall term. If you apply for a term other than fall, you must provide a compelling argument in your statement of intent describing why you cannot apply for fall term. The Department reserves the right to defer any applications for terms other than fall to the subsequent fall term application cycle.

Please do not call the department with questions regarding the receipt of your application materials. Instead, please email us, as we may require some time to access and fully review your file. If we have questions regarding your application, we will contact you at the number or address you specify on your application form. 


Are there any financial aid or teaching assistant opportunities for applicants?

The History Department offers a number of graduate assistantships to incoming and returning graduate students. These financial aid opportunities include both graduate tuition remission and a small monthly stipend, and are all reserved for students who have been formally accepted to the MA Program in History.

We offer a number of departmental teaching assistantships, research assistantships with the Oregon Encyclopedia Project and with the Oregon Historical Society, editorial assistantships through the Pacific Historial Review, and mentorships through the PSU University Studies Program.

New applicants to our MA Program can apply for an assistantship via the online application process (see above, "Page 5."), while returning MA students can access an application form online (click here). Please note that to apply for some of these opportunities, you may need to submit additional letters of reference and/or a statement of interest and/or undergo an interview process.

The deadline for applying for these opportunities, for both prospective and returning MA students, is February 15.