Dept. of the History of Science
Science Center 371
Cambridge, MA 02138
Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance/Early Modern Science; Medicine and Public Health; Physical/Biological/Human Sciences; and Social History of Science
The department offers comprehensive programs leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Science. The objective of these programs is to train students to examine the development of science from a wide variety of perspectives through a course of study that will enable the candidate to lay a broad and sufficient foundation for teaching and research in various areas of the history of the natural and social sciences, behavioral and brain sciences, technology, mathematics, medicine, and allied health. In addition to courses in history, history of science, and the sciences, related work is often selected from fields such as philosophy, government, literature, sociology, law, and public policy. Courses from the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may be taken by cross-registration.
In the history of science program the methods of historical research are employed to explore the genesis and evolution of the sciences and to analyze the growth of science as part of the intellectual and social experience of humankind. Science is its subject and history its method. To pursue advanced work in the field, therefore, it is desirable to have some preliminary training in the natural and social sciences and in history.
Special Programs or Resources
The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments contains over 20,000 objects dating from about 1400 to the present. A broad range of scientific disciplines are represented, including astronomy, navigation, horology, surveying, geology, calculating, physics, biology, medicine, psychology, electricity, and communication. Significant instruments, made obsolete by new technologies, continue to be incorporated. Many of the documents detailing the purchase and use of the instruments have been preserved, and are available for research in the Collection's adjunct library.
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers Secondary Fields to enhance the competitiveness and professional reach of PhD studies at Harvard. Of particular interest to PhD students in the History of Science is is the Secondary Fields in Critical Media Practice.
The Graduate School offers a comprehensive program of financial support including grants and fellowships from internal and external sources, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, other academic employment opportunities, and several types of loans. Doctoral students in the History of Science receive financial assistance either from Harvard or from outside sources. Some aid offers are granted on the basis of merit, others are based on an analysis of financial resources, while still others reflect a combination of merit and need.
Sixteen half-courses or equivalent, of which ordinarily a maximum of four may be graduate level reading courses in the history of science or in other divisions, departments or committees. A good reading knowledge of two foreign languages is required. Ordinarily these languages are French and German. The General Examination, which is oral and comprises ordinarily three or, occasionally, four fields, is to be taken at the end of the fourth semester, or the very beginning of the fifth semester.
Information from Department of Education
(Includes information on the size, location, and general characteristics of faculty and student body)
Information from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
(Includes rating of the institution's rating of the graduate instructional program and size and setting)
Relative Size based on Number of Full-time Faculty: Specialized Program [Explain]
Student Demographics (Fall 2011):
Number of Doctoral Students in Program: 50
New Doctoral Students Entering Program: 6
Proportion of Doctoral Students Receiving Financial Aid: 90%
Number of Graduate Students Enrolled: 58
Relative Size Based on Graduate Student Enrollment: Medium [Explain]
First PhD conferred: 1941
History PhDs conferred to Date: 210
Number of PhDs Conferred (2011–12):
Relative Size Based on PhDs Conferred: No Data [Explain]
Last Updated: October 19, 2012