University at Buffalo Department of History

Why Get a PhD in History at UB?

A supportive and stimulating community:

Our department takes pride in fostering a sense of community and an atmosphere of vitality among faculty, students, and staff. Outside of the seminar room, professors and students meet in faculty offices, around the photocopy machine, or at the coffee bar in Park Hall. Graduate students are an integral part of such department events as visiting speakers, faculty presentation of work-in-progress, brownbag lunches, and talks presented by job candidates. Through the Graduate History Association, graduate students plan an annual graduate student conference. Graduate student representatives sit on the department Graduate, Undergraduate, Speakers, Library, and Search Committees, thus playing an important role in department governance, curriculum and teaching, graduate admissions, and faculty hiring. We consider this level of graduate student involvement critical to the scholarly and collegial life of our community as well as an important introduction to the profession for doctoral students.

A commitment to your academic and professional success:

Our department recognizes that both academic guidance and financial support are critical to your career as a doctoral student. As an entering doctoral student, you will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to help you plan your academic program. Thereafter, you will continue to receive regular guidance from the DGS, along with the professors from whom you take seminars, your doctoral examination committee, and finally your dissertation committee. Many students find our regular workshops, in which faculty and students meet to discuss such topics as putting together a syllabus, applying for grants, and composing a curriculum vitae, a useful way to develop as teachers and scholars and to approach the job market with confidence. The department has an strong record of placing our recent graduates in academic positions.

Doctoral students usually receive four years of support, during which they serve as teaching assistants. This year, that level of support ranges from $14,700 to $20,700. plus full tuition scholarships. We also often find ways to support our students in the fifth year and beyond as they work on their dissertations. Many of our students have been successful in winning external research grants, from year-long Fulbrights to shorter-term grants from archives and historical societies. The department and the university also award research travel and dissertation writing grants. In addition, many of our advanced students teach their own courses in UB’s evening division and during the summer, adding to their teaching portfolios (and their bank accounts).

University-wide resources for learning and research:

Our faculty and students have the opportunity to benefit from the larger resources offered by UB as a comprehensive research university. Many of our students take graduate seminars in other departments—such as English, Romance Languages and Literatures, or Anthropology—and some include faculty from other departments on their doctoral committees. At the same time, graduate students from other departments bring their own perspectives to History Department seminars. Our students are also drawn to the many events around the University, ranging from a speaker series at the Law School’s Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy to a film series put on by the interdisciplinary Graduate Group for German and Austrian Studies.

UB’s library system offers a wealth of resources for historical research. In addition to a print collection of 3 million volumes, the library serves as an official Government Documents Repository, and has long invested in substantial microform and now digital collections. Visit the library website to see just how deep those collections are and how many electronic sources are on the library’s subscription list. In microform, for example, you will find everything from nineteenth-century American periodicals to twentieth-century Polish underground press books. Electronic sources available to students through the library website range from the 125,000 texts printed before 1700 in Early English Books Online to nineteenth-century African-American newspapers. UB’s libraries also have a number of special collections of interest to historians, including the George Kelley Pulp Fiction Collection, a goldmine of mid-century American popular culture; a Poetry Collection with 90,000 volumes, literary magazines, and poets’ notebooks, letters, and manuscripts; and the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection with particular strengths in nineteenth-century American medicine. In Buffalo, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society has archival collections for local research and the Buffalo and Erie Public Library, reflecting the industrial wealth of the past century, has especially strong collections in business and technology. Within a one or two hour drive are the libraries of the University of Toronto and the University of Rochester.

A lively—and affordable—place to live:

Buffalo is a small city with the vibrant cultural life of a much larger urban area. The city has close to a dozen theater companies, a symphony orchestra, chamber music series, a jazz and rock scene, the internationally renown Albright-Knox Art Gallery, local art galleries, art house movie theaters, and centers for experimental film and video. In Buffalo, you can hear Yo Yo Ma at the Buffalo Philharmonic or see an artist’s installation at Hallwalls. Take a look at the Art Voice, Buffalo's alternative weekly newspaper, to get a sense of the lively cultural scene in our city.

What you don’t have in Buffalo are traffic jams and sky-high rents. Some of our graduate students live in university housing, but many more rent apartments in the city. Buffalo has some beautiful Victorian and turn-of-the-century neighborhoods, with affordable rents and nearby commercial districts with restaurants and coffeehouses. The cost of living is low and the standard of living is high.

And the winters? Lots of snow, and temperatures about five or ten degrees colder than in New York City. All in all, not such a big deal. If our warmth and accessibility doesn't melt the permafrost, perhaps our celebrated modernist architecture--from Louis Sullivan's magnificent early skyscraper, The Guaranty Building, to Richardson's Buffalo Psychiatric Center, to Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House (and four others)-- will do the trick. Or how about a citywide grid created by no other than Frederick Law Olmsted culminating in magnificent Delaware Park.

If you're a technology buff, before Silicon Valley, Buffalo was "The City of Light" the first electrified city in America and the showplace for the wonders of the new 20th Century as captured by the amazing Tower of Light--the centerpiece of the new century's inaugural Pan-Am Exposition in 1901--caught on film by no other than Thomas Alva Edison himself.

From the "City of Lights" to the would-be "City of Bytes," Buffalo has architecture, technology, artifacts, and a rich history to commend itself to the most cosmopolitan academic.

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Suggestions About Where to Live by UB History Grad Students

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Last updated: Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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