The New School for Social Research

Degree Programs

  • Degrees Offered

    The Committee on Historical Studies offers the MA degree only. Students who complete the requirements for the MA in Historical Studies (history) and wish to earn a PhD degree may apply for admission to the NSSR PhD in Politics or Sociology, with a specialization in Historical Studies. More detailed information about Committee on Historical Studies degree programs is published in the Committee on Historical Studies Curriculum Handbook, also available in the Committee on Historical Studies office at 80 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor. 

    MA in Historical Studies

    In keeping with the critical traditions of the New School, our innovative master’s program conceives of history as a way of thinking, a form of inquiry, and a mode of critique. Inspired by our department’s founders — Helen and Charles Tilly, Joan Scott, Perry Anderson, and Eric Hobsbawm — our faculty share a strong commitment to the historical interrogation of social power in the modern world.

    Our unique program of study combines training in history with coursework in the range of disciplines housed at The New School for Social Research. Our practice of interdisciplinarity rigorously engages distinctive ways of understanding the world. For historians, as well as our colleagues in other social sciences, The New School offers a special environment for fostering and amplifying interdisciplinary conversations.

    As members of the vibrant NSSR intellectual community, our students and faculty investigate the past in order to address the most pressing questions of the present. Our course offerings cover a wide range of historical periods and world regions, with particular strength in the large-scale transformations of the modern era.  Our diverse approaches to historical research employ the insights of critical social theory. Areas of faculty expertise include the history of capitalism, the history of political violence, history and theory, and public history.

    Students enrolled in our terminal MA program receive intensive mentoring and collaborate with our faculty on a sustained basis. We prepare our students in the critical assessment of scholarship, the diverse methodologies of historical research, and the imaginative act of relating history to the contemporary world.

    Equipped with a robust critical apparatus for thinking about the modern world, our graduates pursue a wide variety of careers. Many enter PhD programs at The New School for Social Research or in history departments at other top universities. Others pursue teaching, journalism, activism, government service, and other fields. We invite applications from any student for whom an immersion in our vibrant community of scholarly inquiry and debate would offer lasting intellectual enrichment.

    Admission to the Program in Historical Studies

    Persons wishing to enter the program must complete an application for admission and check the option of an MA in Historical Studies. The New School for Social Research’s MA program has been particularly attractive to students who wish to become more broadly educated historians or more historically informed social scientists. Admission to the doctoral specialization program requires a separate application and approval of the committee. 

    PhD in Politics or Sociology with a specialization in Historical Studies

    Students in their second year of study in a master of arts program in any of these three fields (or thereafter while still in residence) may apply for admission to an NSSR doctoral program. Acceptance is not automatic but is at the discretion of both the Committee on Historical Studies and the other department. Applicants must provide the following materials to the secretary of the Committee on Historical Studies: a letter of intent, explaining the applicant’s scholarly interests and rationale for including historical studies as part of advanced social scientific research; a transcript of coursework completed at The New School for Social Research; a three-page prospectus of the student’s plans for doctoral research (this is not a formal dissertation proposal); and, a letter of support from the student’s MA program faculty advisor. Note: Applicants must follow on a parallel track the specific application procedures for the acceptance to doctoral study in politics or sociology. Students whose applications for the PhD program have been accepted by both faculties must file a change of status petition with the Office of Academic Affairs of The New School for Social Research

    The aim of the PhD in Politics or Sociology with a specialization in Historical Studies is to provide integrated training in history and social science for scholars with strong interests in both fields. Students accepted for doctoral studies by both the Committee on Historical Studies and the other department must work closely with both faculty advisors to design a coherent program of study and prepare qualifying examinations that will cover their work in both fields. 

    PhD Program Requirements

    • A total of 60 credits must be completed (including the 30 credits required for the master of arts degree)
    • Students who earned the MA degree in a field other than historical studies must take the two core courses GHIS 6133 Historiography and Historical Practice and GHIS 6134 Historical Methods and Sources.

    A student must complete all the specific prerequisites to take the PhD qualifying examination in Politics or Sociology.

    Qualifying Examination: Students who have completed at least 42 credits including all required courses in both historical studies and their social science may petition to take the PhD qualifying examinations. Students must take one examination for CHS in addition to those required by the department. The form of the history examination will mirror the practice in Politics or Sociology as appropriate.

    The Doctoral Dissertation: Students who pass all parts of the qualifying examinations are invited to form a dissertation committee, which must include at least one member of the CHS faculty as either chair or second reader. Among other advising responsibilities, this committee member must determine whether the thesis substantively engages historical sources and methodology. Doctoral dissertations in these programs are expected to demonstrate primary source research, an extensive review of the scholarly literature, and the competent formulation and exposition of an intellectual problem. The dissertation must be approved by both the Committee on Historical Studies and the Social Science department for the PhD degree to be conferred.