Saturday, June 02, 2007

Question from Ani - Tudor history programs

I am a high school student and would like to know if there are any good colleges in either the USA or England that offer good programs in Tudor history. I would like to become a professor of Tudor History when I get older so any information would help.

Thanks,
Ani

[we've had a question like this before, but I figure it wouldn't hurt to put it out there again]

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

Having just finished a PhD in Tudor history (in Colorado), I will take a stab at this question. My answer is in two parts because the US system is vastly different from the UK system.

US: As an undergraduate (for a BA), you will major in simply "History," though most large universities' history departments have at least a general European concentration available. But you are not likely to be able to major in Tudor, or even English/British, history at any US university. Your best bet would be at a really large school like UCLA, UC Berkeley, U Wisconsin, U of Texas at Austin, or an Ivy League. They will have more British history courses available than someplace like U of Vermont or Idaho, and you will go further with a degree from one of the larger schools. If you start out at in a lower status (non-Ivy) school, you are unlikely to be accepted to a top PhD program and therefore unlikely ever to get work in what is now an impossible job market. (There are an average of 100-150+ applicants for every one job these days.)
Once you get to graduate school (MA, PhD), you will be able to concentrate much more narrowly on British and/or Tudor history, though you will still have to take lots of courses in general European history. But at the graduate level, though the prestige of the school is important for future job prospects, the individual advisor that you would be working with is also important. You don't want to go to a fancy school if the Tudor advisor is a twit. It will make grad school a living hell. I chose a mid-level, non-Ivy school with a FAB-U-LOUS advisor, and it was a perfect choice. In other words, I chose based on who would be my teacher, not the reputation of the school. But unfortunately, there just are not many grad programs left in the US that allow one to focus on Tudor history. And those that do are usually so large that your advisor will ignore you.

UK: A totally different system. Even as an undergrad, you would be able to focus very specifically on British history. And almost every school has a good program. Cambridge and Oxford are obviously the best, but there are many many others: Leeds, Manchester, Warwick, Sussex, London. Grad school is faster in the UK, too, so you would be done quicker. And the really big-name Tudor historians are in the UK, so you would be working with and taught by the best ... critical when looking for a teaching job. Plus, all the research resources that you would need would be literally out your back door. Drawbacks to school in the UK: HUGELY expensive. Tuition and living expenses for non-EU citizens is in the tens of thousands of dollars per year. And most student visas do not allow you to work, so school must be paid for by scholarships and savings. And scholarships to UK schools for non-EU citizens are super scarce. Most US students studying in the UK pay out of their own pocket, and the total can reach $100K for an undergrad degree alone.
I hesitate to write in more detail for reasons of space. However, Lara has my email address, and if she would be kind enough to pass it on to you (and to anyone else who wants info on selecting a degree program), I would be more than happy to offer whatever advice I can about selecting a good school for studying European, British, and/or Tudor history. Making a good choice is absolutely critical if you are serious about wanting to become a professor. Historian@somegreymatter.com