About the Program

Modern European history is a longstanding specialty of the department, comprising one of the leading programs in the nation, and a faculty of international renown.  Specializations include modern Britain, France, Germany, Central Europe, Spain, and Russia, but also particularly transnational and comparative European history, European women’s and gender history, and global history/history of imperialism.  Methodologically the program offers expertise in cultural, political, social, and intellectual history.

Because we admit only a few students each year, each graduate student in modern European history receives careful attention from the faculty, to help insure his or her success in the program. For this reason too we are normally able to offer all admits full funding for a five-year program.  Students normally receive sufficient support to make possible an overseas research trip in the summer after their first or second year.  This offers an invaluable introduction to the archives.  Students also routinely win internal support for travel to conferences.  Our students fare extremely well in competitions for external funding to support pre-dissertation and dissertation-level research abroad.  Our record of job placement is excellent; recent examples include tenured and tenure-track positions at Brown University; Johns Hopkins University; University of Oregon; Washington University (St. Louis); Bryn Mawr College; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Syracuse University; University of Richmond; the Rhode Island School of Design; Reed College and Colby College. Our graduates also frequently win prestigious post-doctoral fellowships, for example at the University Institute (Florence), Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Department faculty is enriched by deep resources in European history across the university.  Founded by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, the interdisciplinary Rutgers British Studies Center sponsors seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences on Britain, its empire and postcolonial global legacies. The Center for European Studies, a major and growing program, brings together Europeanist faculty and graduate students for regular events including talks, workshops, colloquia from across the disciplines, focusing particularly on the modern and contemporary era.  Talks in European affairs and European thought are also regularly offered through the Center for Historical Analysis, the Center for Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture, and the Institute for Research on Women, as well as through the European languages and literatures departments.  Our library is a major research facility with a strong collection in modern European history.  Students also have privileged access to other libraries in the region, including borrowing privileges and delivery service from all of the major university libraries in Pennsylvania and direct access to many libraries in New Jersey and New York. When useful, students may take courses at area universities for credit in our program, including at Princeton, Columbia, and NYU.  We also have formal ties including exchange programs with several European universities.

Course of Study

The core of the program includes two readings courses in modern and early modern European history.  Students also take a two-semester seminar to begin original research on a topic of their choosing.  This course is normally offered in a spring semester/fall semester sequence, so that students can carry out archival and other on-site research for their seminar papers during the summer.  We offer a range of nationally-specific and/or theme-based colloquia, providing students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the literatures on these topics.  Students can opt to take additional courses with faculty members outside the department. 

Those pursuing a major field in European history must also complete a minor field.  Students are free to select the minor field they find most beneficial.  Our students often find the minors in global and comparative history and in women’s and gender history particularly useful, for their own research as well as for their broader training. Course requirements depend on the specific minor field that is chosen. Our department has found that search committees reviewing job applicants are often impressed with the versatility of our graduates and we are proud of the role our minor fields play in achieving this result.

Our program also requires at least basic proficiency in two non-English languages (or one, for those pursuing primarily English history), usually closely tied to students’ area of research.  Those applying to the program with this non-English language proficiency are at an advantage, but students are also able to complete language training while in the program.

Further Information

Prospective students who are thinking about applying to our program are encouraged to contact the faculty member whose expertise most closely matches their own interests.  Details about program requirements in general and about individual faculty members are available by following links on the History Department’s website. We will also be happy to arrange for prospective students to visit campus to tour our facilities and meet with current students to talk about our program. Inquiries can be directed to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Graduate Faculty

Belinda Davis

Ph.D., Michigan
Modern Europe; Germany; gender; popular politics

Melissa Feinberg

Ph.D., Chicago
Central and Eastern Europe; gender history; human rights and citizenship

Paul Hanebrink

Ph.D., Chicago
Central and Eastern Europe; history of antisemitism; transnational histories of religion

Jochen Hellbeck
Distinguished Professor

Ph.D., Columbia
Political and cultural history of Modern Russia and the Soviet Union; transnational study of World War II and its aftermath

Seth Koven
Distinguished Professor and Co-Director, Rutgers British Studies Center

Ph.D., Harvard
Britain and its empire; women's, gender and sexuality; comparative urban; cultural history of modern Europe

Matt Matsuda

Modern Europe; France; global history; history of the Pacific

Nancy Sinkoff (Jewish Studies)
Professor of Jewish Studies and History; Academic Director, Bildner Center
Ph.D., Columbia
Early modern and modern Jewish; Eastern Europe

Judith Surkis

Ph.D., Cornell
Modern Europe and European empires, especially France and North Africa; gender and sexuality