Graduate Studies in HSTM

About the Program

The History of Science, Technology, and Medicine is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field that studies these areas in their broad cultural context. The field's rapid growth stems from the increasing recognition that science, technology, and medicine are themselves among the most important cultural phenomena of the modern age. For over twenty-five years, the graduate programs in History of Medicine and the History of Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota have consistently ranked among the country's best. In 2007 these two programs merged into a new Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.

In a small, select program such as ours, graduate student programs are individually planned to meet the student's needs within the framework of the general University requirements for advanced degrees. Students enter one of two tracks in the program, History of Science and Technology (HST) or History of Medicine (HMed), each with its own similar but distinct requirements (for details see the HSTM Graduate Student Handbook). Applicants are expected to indicate a choice of track. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies if unsure about which track to select. By choosing a track when filing an application for admission, prospective students are eligible for more sources of financial aid and will be better able to plan their course of study.

All students take six courses in their own track, including a historiography course common to both tracks. Ph.D. students take an additional course on methods of historical research and write a substantial research paper in at least two courses. All combinations of courses must satisfy requirements regarding distribution over periods and areas. In addition, students do a secondary or supporting program in another field of either two courses (M.A.) or four courses (Ph.D.). It is possible to use courses from the other track within HSTM for this purpose. Ph.D. students entering the program with little prior exposure to the field will typically be required to audit the two-semester undergraduate survey in their chosen area, history of science, history of technology, or history of medicine (this requirement can also be satisfied by serving as a Teaching Assistant in these courses).

For the Preliminary Examination, Ph.D. students write two essays demonstrating a critical grasp of two fairly broad areas in the history of science, technology, or medicine-one will usually be the area in which the student is planning to write his or her dissertation. M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language, Ph.D. students in two, typically French and German. It is possible (and even common) for students to include technical courses (e.g., in physics, engineering, or biology) in their graduate programs, as well as work in cognate fields such as history, philosophy of science, and bioethics. Each student selects an adviser to assist in developing a program, but we encourage students to work with a number of faculty members to develop an imaginative and sound program that fits their needs and interests.