Students interested in the Department of History graduate programs must meet the minimum admission requirements and follow the application procedures below.

Please keep in mind that successful applicants typically have qualifications higher than the minimum listed. Each year we receive many more applications than we can accept.

MA Admission Requirements

Admission into the MA History program is based on a variety of criteria, including a strong undergraduate record, letters of recommendation, a well-planned research proposal, and the department’s ability to provide instruction in the applicant’s area of interest.

Undergraduate course requirements

All candidates must hold a four-year Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university.

Canadian applicants should have completed either:

  • Honours in History with an A average in at least two 300 and 400 level courses and a B+ average or better in other history courses
  • A major in history with the equivalent of 30 credits at UBC during the third and fourth years of their undergraduate study

International applicants are required to meet the Faculty of Graduate Studies admission criteria for international students.

Students who have not taken the required concentration of senior undergraduate history courses but have superior undergraduate records in the social sciences or humanities are encouraged to apply. Depending on each case, the applicant may have to do additional coursework to develop disciplinary competency in history.

Doctoral Admission Requirements (PhD)

Admission into the PhD History program is based on a variety of criteria, including a strong undergraduate record, letters of recommendation, a well-planned research proposal, and the department’s ability to provide instruction in the applicant’s area of interest.

Applicants must have demonstrated an ability to undertake and complete independent, original research of a high quality. Demonstration of such ability is the chief criterion for admission into the PhD program.

The candidate must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in history prior to submitting their application. Applicants should have obtained first-class (“A”) standing in at least four one-term graduate courses, and an overall first-class standing in at least 18 credits of graduate work. The undergraduate record will also be considered in evaluating students for admission to the PhD program.

The Executive Committee of the Faculty of Graduate Studies may give recommended MA candidates within the department permission to proceed directly to the PhD program without submission of the Master's thesis. The History Department may recommend those MA candidates who have obtained high first-class standing and whose independent research is of high quality. Such candidates will not receive the MA degree.

Mature returning students and applicants with strong backgrounds in other academic disciplines will be considered for admission to the PhD program in history only if they can demonstrate a record of recent formal academic achievement at an acceptable standard in regular session university courses in history, or a comparable achievement. They must also have letters from professors who are familiar with the applicant's recent level of achievement.

Application Checklist

All those interested in either history graduate program must complete an online application to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Each application must include all of the following:

  • Online application form
  • All post-secondary transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
  • Statement of purpose
  • Statement of additional language competence
  • English language competence exam results

All supporting documents are now uploaded as electronic files to the online application. Please note that official hardcopy transcripts are only required for verification when applicants are offered admission.

The following supporting documents are required for all applications:

  1. Transcripts: Submit transcripts from all universities and colleges that you have attended, including universities from which no degree was received
  2. Letters of recommendations: Three letters of recommendation from three professors who have taught you, where at least two should be professors of history. Reference letters may indicate whether the referee considers the student deserving of financial assistance. The online application system will automatically send a reference request to those listed in the application. Referees will have the option to fill out an online reference form, upload a reference letter, or mail a hardcopy letter. We prefer to receive references electronically.
  3. Sample of Writing:  For MA admissions, an undergraduate history term paper or a chapter from an Honours graduating essay is acceptable. If possible, please send a 30 page paper. For the PhD program, you should send a written sample of your work at the graduate level; this may be a major seminar paper or a chapter from an MA thesis. This should be no longer than 50 pages. The writing sample must be uploaded as an electronic file to the online graduate application.
  4. A brief statement of purpose (1 -2 pages): This research proposal should identify the object, place and time period you hope to concentrate on and might write your thesis about. This proposal should demonstrate your ability to define a significant and manageable project in your chosen field.
  5. A brief statement (one paragraph): This statement should describe the level of your reading knowledge of languages other than English.

English Requirement

Faculty and departmental regulations whose degrees are from a country other than Canada, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Kenya, New Zealand or the British West Indies to submit an official TOEFL score report. The applicant must meet the following minimum requirements during the past 24 months prior to application:

Category Score
Reading 22
Writing 21
Listening 22
Speaking 21
Total 90

If you are submitting electronically, please ensure that you include the following on your TOEFL sheet:

  • UBC’s institution code: 0965
  • Give the reason for taking TOEFL “to enter a college or university as a graduate student”

If you are submitting as an official paper score, please send it directly to UBC from the testing centre.

170 - 6371 Crescent Road
Vancouver, BC V6T1Z2

A minimum overall band score of 6.5 is required with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component of the academic IELTS test.

UBC requires an official score to be sent electronically from the test centre. To ensure UBC receives your results correctly, you must use the following details on the application:

  • Name of institution: The University of British Columbia
  • Name of person/ department: Graduate School Admissions
  • Address: 170--6371 Crescent Road, Vancouver BC V6T Z2, Canada

For alternative tests, visit the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to learn more about English proficiency requirements.

Adjudication of Applications

Applications are adjudicated by the History Department’s Graduate Studies Committee in consultation with appropriate department members. When an applicant’s file is complete, the committee has three courses of action:

  1. Admission
  2. Rejection
  3. Delay its decision until additional information is received and then inform the applicant accordingly. For example, there is sometimes a possibility that the applicant’s final grades for the current year might improve the applicant’s chances of admission. In such cases, the decision is delayed until updated academic transcripts are reviewed.

The committee’s recommendation is usually, but not always, accepted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and applicants will be notified of the decision in the spring.

The Graduate Studies Committee is responsible for admissions to the department’s graduate program for general supervision of that program, and for giving advice to the department and students. The Committee is composed of the Graduate Advisor, who serves as the chair, and other faculty members as the Department Head may appoint. Two graduate student representatives, one MA and one PHD Candidate, join the Committee for policy discussions.

Each successful applicant is assigned a provisional supervisor whose academic interests will normally be in a field related to the applicant’s interest area. The provisional supervisor provides general assistance and advice on the student’s program and oversees their progress.

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