George Mason University to Establish History PhD Program

Robert B. Townsend | May 1, 2000

In March Virginia's State Higher Education Board approved George Mason University's proposal for an innovative doctoral program in history. According to planners, students will "gain expertise in both traditional historical methods and Web-based technologies." The degree will prepare students for careers in computers and digital media, publishing, educational administration, public history, and historical research, as well as college teaching.

In addition to a nationally renowned faculty, particularly in the fields of U.S. and European history, the department also hosts the Center for History and New Media, which will provide support for the PhD program. Established in 1994, the center creates historical works and teaching materials for the Web and other digital media, including CD-ROMs. The center explores the limitations as well as the possibilities of computer applications in history.

According to Rosemarie Zagarri, director of graduate studies in the department, "Our students may or may not go on to jobs in college teaching but we hope to make them employable. We will have good fellowship support available and make it possible for people who work to do the program."

Professor Zagarri also noted that "the GMU program is especially interested in attracting nontraditional students already launched on professional careers; it will offer flexible scheduling to accommodate those students. In addition, work in public and applied history—drawing on the instructional support of the large number of public historians in the D.C. area—will be a particular feature of the program."

Classes in the program will begin in fall 2001, with admissions beginning later this year. Those interested in finding out more about the program can contact the PhD Coordinator, Department of History and Art History, George Mason University, MS 3G1, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444 or by e-mail at

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