Graduate Program Application Process
For admission to graduate study in the department, a high-quality undergraduate record is more important than the particular program pursued. Graduate students have begun work in the history of science with a wide variety of undergraduate majors, including those in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.
The application process is on-line, but some materials must be mailed directly to the department. Please read the rest of this page for important instructions about applying to the department. Use the following links for general information about graduate study at UW-Madison and to connect to the on-line application.
- UW-Madison Graduate School: General admissions information
- UW-Madison Graduate School: Application instructions
Applications must be completed by December 15.
Which program do I apply for, the M.A. or the Ph.D.?
The Department of the History of Science normally admits students only into the M.A. program and not directly into the Ph.D. program. Most of our entering students do pursue the Ph.D., however, and those planning to do so should check the relevant box on the application form. Students are considered for the Ph.D. program when they pass the requirements for the M.A. degree, usually in the spring of the second year.
Occasionally a student may apply who already has a Master’s degree in history of science or a related field and may be able to gain some transfer credits, or, rarely, may be admitted directly to the Ph.D. program. Please see the Graduate Handbook on this website, p. 10, for details. Such candidates should still check off the "M.A." box, not the Ph.D. box, unless advised otherwise by the graduate admissions chair.
Letters of recommendation:
Three letters are required. Letters are submitted electronically. You will list your references in the online admission application, and a recommendation request will be sent by email to each of your references.
In the on-line application, please check the box saying "Send first request to recommender" (also called the "Email Request" box). Please submit the "Recommendation" portion of the application well before the deadline to allow your recommenders time to submit their e-references. You should confirm that your recommenders have received the email from the UW Graduate School requesting their letters.
The Graduate School web site has more instructions.
Please have two (2) official copies of your transcripts sent to the History of Science Department (see address below).
Graduate Record Examination:
All applicants are required to take the aptitude (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) portion of the GRE. The advanced test in the area of your undergraduate major is not required.
Application essay - Reasons for graduate study:
As part of the on-line application, you are required to complete a statement of reasons for graduate study. In this essay, you should discuss why you want to come to the University of Wisconsin’s graduate program in History of Science, including the historical questions that interest you, and your long-term career goals. This essay is limited to approximately 2½ pages of single-spaced prose; the form will automatically truncate a longer essay. Keep in mind that this bit of prose is one of the few windows we have on you, your interests, and your abilities. Tell us candidly and unpretentiously who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and how we can help with the journey.
Writing sample: A scholarly writing sample is recommended but not required. It should not exceed 35 pages, and we prefer shorter samples. Please mail a hard copy directly to the History of Science Department.
The application for admission is also an application for financial aid. Because of limitations in the financial aid available from the University of Wisconsin, we urge qualified applicants to apply also to organizations such as the Mellon Foundation and NSF.
International applicants are reminded that the required financial statement must be filled out with great care and accuracy.
You can become much better acquainted with us, and we with you, if you can arrange to visit us. We cannot ordinarily subsidize the cost of travel, but we will do our best to arrange accommodations with one of our current graduate students. A visit on a Friday, the day of our "brown-bag lunch," will give you the best opportunity to see the department at both work and play. To arrange a visit, please contact our departmental administrator, Eileen Ward, at (608)-262-1406, email@example.com
Where to send application materials:
The application must be completed in two parts. The on-line part of the
application includes basic information about you, reasons for graduate
study, and GRE scores. Your writing sample and two copies of your transcripts
must be sent directly to the department at:
Department of the History of Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Room 210, Bradley Memorial Building
1225 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1528 USA
The relation of Medical History
to History of Science:
The UW-Madison graduate program in History of Science draws from two
departments, Medical History & Bioethics in the Medical School and History
of Science in the College of Letters and Science. Our offices are about
200 yards apart, but we operate as a single, unified, degree-granting graduate
program. The degrees are granted by History of Science, so all applications
for admission should be submitted to the History of Science Department.
However, prospective students with a special interest in the history of
medicine may also wish to contact the chair of the Medical History & Bioethics
Professor Susan E. Lederer
Chair, Department of Medical History & Bioethics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1420 Medical Science Center
1300 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706-1532 USA
The job market:
Academic positions for Ph.D.'s in history of science are scarce and highly competitive. Do not enter graduate school without an awareness of the risks involved.