Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Ph.D. in History and Civilization

Doctoral Programme in History and Civilization


The Department of History and Civilization (HEC) offers a distinctive programme of transnational and comparative European history in a global perspective. Study and research activities are structured in a four-year Ph.D. programme , which is one of the largest and most successful in Europe. The teaching programme for the Ph.D. in History and Civilization  includes departmental, training and research seminars, as well as other activities such as conferences, workshops, and lectures.

The faculty provides guidance in research methods and advises researchers on the preparation of their dissertations.

Funding is provided for research missions to work in archives and libraries, and researchers may also receive financial support to present their work-in-progress at international conferences.

Doctoral supervision is a priority at the EUI, and prospective researchers are welcome to explore whether their interests fit with those supported by the HEC faculty.

Information for Ph.D. Applicants in History and Civilization

To qualify for a national PhD grant , you must meet the specific requirements set by the national grant authorities. These may include conditions with regard to your nationality, residence, degree and its time of award.

The application for admission to the EUI doctoral programme is automatically an application for a national grant, with the following exceptions:  Portugal Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom. If you apply for a grant from one of these countries, your application to the EUI can ONLY be accepted if you separately apply also for the national grant by the deadline specified by the relevant grant authority.

EUI Contracting States

Grants and tuition fees for Ph.D. candidates are covered by the national grant-awarding authority for AustriaBelgiumCyprus, Denmark, EstoniaFinland, France, Germany, Greece, IrelandItalyLatvia, LuxembourgThe NetherlandsRomania, PolandPortugal, SloveniaSpainSwedenUnited Kingdom.


Other EU Member States not adhering to the EUI Convention  

EU Member States Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia have not yet signed the EUI Convention. Consequently, there are currently no national grants available for PhD candidates from these countries.

Candidates from these countries may therefore be admitted under the EUI special doctoral fellowships programme, or on condition they are able to secure external sponsorship.


Associate Member States

Candidates from Norway and Switzerland may be admitted to the EUI under the Association Agreements.

Grants and tuition fees for doctoral candidates are covered by the national grant-awarding authority.

Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation "Grants for Foreigners" Programme

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation awards grants to candidates from the following states:  Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Turkey.

Candidates from these countries do not pay the programme’s tuition fees.


Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation "North Africa" Programme

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation awards grants to candidates from the following states: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Candidates from these countries do not pay the programme’s tuition fees.

Other Countries

Candidates from countries that do not fit in with any of the above-mentioned grant programmes may be admitted under the  EUI special doctoral fellowships programme, or on condition they are able to secure external sponsorship.


You must meet the minimum degree requirements set by the relevant grant authority:

  • Austria: completion of university studies (Magister/Master’s degree)
  • Belgium: maîtrise or master (economics), or licence with distinction
  • Cyprus: Ptychion or equivalent degree
  • Denmark: kandidateksamen
  • Finland: ylempi korkeakoulututkinto/högre högskoleexamen, equivalent foreign degree
  • France: DEA (or Master) or equivalent to bac + 5
  • Germany: completion of university studies and the qualifications required to study for a doctorate
  • Greece: ptychion - ISCED 6
  • Italy: laurea (vecchio ordinamento); laurea specialistica /Masters (nuovo ordinamento) 
  • Latvia:  magistra grads vai magistra grada limenim pielidzinata izglitiba (Master's degree or education equal to a Master's degree)
  • Netherlands: doctoraal examen or Master's degree
  • Norway: Master's degree (or education equal to a Master's degree).
  • Poland: Magister, Magister inzynier lub inny równorzedny
  • Portugal: licenciatura and qualifications required to study for a doctorate in Portugal
  • Spain: licenciatura
  • Sweden:  General entry requirements (According to the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance)

    A person meets the general entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

    1. has been awarded a second-cycle qualification
    2. has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
    3. has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad

    The higher education institution may permit an exemption from the general entry requirements for an individual applicant, if there are special grounds.

    Ordinance (2010:1064)

  • Switzerland: licence/diplôme or master
  • UK & Ireland: good honours degree (min. Upper Second); preference to those with a Master's degree
  • EUI Special Doctoral Fellowships: Master or equivalent degree in an academic discipline relevant to the doctoral programme of the selected EUI Department and to the research proposal.
  • Other countries: diploma equivalent to the minimum qualification needed to study for a doctorate in a given country


The expected level of English proficiency is level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Applicants are required to submit an English international language certificate to demonstrate their level. Candidates who are English native speakers, or have a degree from a university programme entirely taught in English and who have written a thesis in English in such a programme, are exempt from submitting a certificate of English proficiency.

Applicants who submit a certificate with a test score below the threshold indicated hereunder may be conditionally admitted but will have to take English language courses during their first year. Sufficient progress in English language skills will be a criterion for admission to the second year.

The following international certificates of English proficiency are recognised by the EUI:

Type of certificate Expected test score, considered equivalent to level C1 of the CEFR
IELTS From 7.5
TOEFL (IBT) - EUI code 9408 From 110
Cambridge Proficiency A/B/C
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) A/B

The certificate of English proficiency must be attached to the candidate’s application form and submitted by 31 January. Unofficial copies of the above mentioned English proficiency certificates are also accepted.

Candidates who are unable to provide a certificate by 31 January must attach a personal declaration to the application form stating the reason for this. Exemption from the requirement to submit an English international language certificate may be granted in the case of extenuating circumstances. Where the certificate of English proficiency is missing and the applicant is still invited for interview, he or she must take an equivalent English Language Assessment test at the EUI in addition to the interview.

Other EUI Working Languages

Applicants who need to be proficient for their specific research project in another working language(s) of the EUI (French, German, Italian and Spanish) which is not their native language, will be asked to take a spoken and written test when invited for interview.

See also: Language Tests

Applicants are selected for interviews on the basis of their academic record and their research proposal. Your research proposal shows that you are ready to write a PhD dissertation that can be supervised at the EUI. The proposal must be written in English or French and must be no longer than 2500 words (including footnotes, references and bibliography). Longer proposals may be excluded from further consideration.

The proposal should outline the project that you wish to pursue in your PhD dissertation. It should demonstrate command of the state of the art in the field (with references to the literature) and of research methodology within the discipline, formulate a research question and include a short bibliography. Where appropriate it should also include the theory or hypotheses that will be examined or a description of the empirical content and sources of the research project.

The policy of the EUI is not to offer individual guidance and advice on dissertation proposals. You should not contact potential supervisors and ask them to support your application or to provide you with advice. You can instead read the information on research themes supervised by the department and by individual professors. In the application form and in your research proposal you can indicate one or more professors who you think could supervise your dissertation.

Please also consider the following points when framing your research proposal for a PhD in History and Civilization:

  1. The Department focuses primarily on the History of Europe from XIV century to the present, and will not therefore consider proposals on the Classical World or the Early Medieval Period.
  2. We particularly welcome projects on comparative history and transnational history, as well as global history (namely Europe and the World). This should be taken into account by prospective students when formulating a research proposal. Though not refused categorically, projects strictly dealing with national histories do not fit with our priorities.
  3. You should identify a research question that you aim to explore and present your argument with clarity, while also attempting to demonstrate the feasibility of the project. Please remember that ours is a four-year programme and you will need to limit your subject, explain its rationale and clearly focus your research and writing.
  4. The title of your proposal should be well-defined and fully express its content. It is equally important to produce a good abstract, which will be included in the summary of your application file. Your abstract will be read first and faculty members will often decide on that basis whether to read your full application more carefully.
  5. You are expected to elaborate on the approaches, methodologies and tools that you are planning to adopt and explore. Besides giving an overview of the relevant bibliography for your topic and underlining why the project is innovative vis-à-vis the existing literature, you also are advised to briefly write about the nature and accessibility of the primary sources you will need.
  6. We also encourage you to produce a brief statement detailing your particular historical interests, and the ways you think the EUI’s Department of History and Civilization—both individually and communally—is suited to support you in working towards your research goals.
  7. The overall length of your proposal must not exceed 2500 words (including footnotes and references). Longer proposals may be excluded from further consideration.

Before starting your online submission, prepare the required documents:

  • one or two page CV
  • the research proposal of 2500 words (See above) 
  • degree transcript, issued by your university listing the exams/courses taken at university, grades/marks awarded and (if applicable) the final degree result (electronic size max 1 MB). Submit your transcript as a scanned file to the on-line application. If pertinent, you may attach more than one transcript from previous degree/s. Do not attach or send supplementary documents that are not strictly requested, such as the copy of your official diploma, traineeships diplomas etc.
  • International English language certificate (See Above)
  • Recommended: GRE general test scores (EUI code 7395 – Departmental Codes 2704 HEC - 5102 LAW - 2209 SPS) - The online or unofficial version of your GRE - Examinee Score Report - is acceptable. Candidates must directly upload the recommended GRE scores to the online application form.

Note that attachments must be PDF using standard international fonts (max size 1MB).

Do NOT use macros, special characters, password-protected attachments, electronic signatures or logos.

Information about References

References must be submitted by the deadline 31 January 2015.

Note for Candidates

Your referees will be contacted and will be allowed to submit the reference  only after you have completed and registered the first step of the online application form including the names and contact details of referees. In order to receive the references in time by the deadline 31 January, you should register the referee details as soon as possible . This is possible any time and you do not yet need to submit the final version of your application at that time.

When you register your referees' contact details in the online application form, an email requesting a reference on your behalf is automatically sent to the referees you have nominated. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to contact referees directly to inform them of your request and to ensure that they submit the reference by the deadline of 31 January. 

Give the names of two referees on your application form. If you are applying to the Economics Department, specify three referees.

References must be submitted by academic referees (ie: Professors, Lectures etc.) who are in a position to give an academic evaluation of your research, intellectual qualities, ability and potential.

Letters of reference from current full-time or part-time EUI professors are not accepted except:

  • where the application is from a researcher already registered for an EUI degree (i.e. transfer from LL.M. to Ph.D.)
  • where the professor is a member of a different EUI department to the one where the candidate is applying, and who is able to comment on the academic qualities of the candidate

Note for Referees

Once the candidate has registered the referee details, you as the referee will receive an e-mail with access details for submitting your reference letter online. You should give your opinion of the candidate's intellectual ability, knowledge in his/her field, motivation for research, capacity to work in a group, oral and written expression.

  • Referees may use their own reference format.
  • References should be submitted as PDF files. Please use standard international fonts, do not use macros, special characters, password-protection, electronic signatures or logos.
  • Do not send a hard copy
  • You may write in a language other than English, but English will guarantee the widest possible reading.
  • If in doubt contact  ReferenceRes@eui.eu

References are accepted until 31 January 2015.

You must submit your application and all required documents via the interactive online application form.

The deadline for completing the application form and for the submission of references and all required documents is: Saturday 31 January 2015.  Applications may be submitted until midnight (24:00 – CET).

A Mock-Up Application Form containing a preview of the sections of the form and the requested information is available online:

There are two distinct phases in the application process:

1. Register as early as possible

You are encouraged to register, insert your personal and referee details as soon as possible. This is important to allow sufficient time for your referees to submit the reference letters before the deadline. Reference letters will not be accepted after the deadline 31 January 2015 (24:00 - CET).

2. Complete and submit your application by the deadline 31 January 2015 (24:00 - CET)

Once you have registered you may continue to work on you application (including required documents) until the deadline.  Submit the application only when you have filled in all the information correctly and have successfully uploaded the final version of the required documents.  Once submitted, it will not any longer be possible to update or modify your application (with the exception of the 'Grant Authority' and 'Referees' sections).

By registering/submitting application, you give your consent for processing the data as specified in the  Privacy Statement for Application and Selection Procedures for EUI Post-Graduate Programmes and in accordance with the EUI’s Data Protection Policy outlined in the President’s Decision No. 40 of 27 August 2013 regarding Data Protection at the EUI

Selection process and schedule

  • End of October : Application procedure opens.
  • 31 January 2015 : Deadline for applications and references.
  • Applications are screened for completeness by Academic Service.
  • Professors of the Department check the application files and identify the most promising ones.
  • End of February : National pre-selection committees composed of grant authorities, EUI faculty and representatives of PhD students shortlist candidates for interviews for specific countries or groups of countries.
  • Late February/early March : Invitations for interviews for shortlisted candidates are sent by e-mail. Candidates who are not shortlisted are also informed by e-mail.
  • 16-20 March : Shortlisted candidates are interviewed in Florence by Departmental panels.
  • Late March : EUI’s ‘Entrance Board’ decides which applicants will be offered admission on the basis of the Departments’ proposals. Candidates are informed of the admission results by e-mail.
  • May to July : Formal admission letters are sent by e-mail. Practical information for selected candidates is posted on the Academic Service's web pages. Reserve candidates may be contacted during this period if selected candidates withdraw.
  • End of August : Registration of new researchers.
  • 1 September : Academic Year begins.

Selection criteria  

  • Academic record

National pre-selection committees have the expertise to interpret academic grades, degrees and rankings of departments and universities and make sure that comparable standards are used for assessing all applicants.

Candidates are expected to have sufficient background in theory and research methodology relevant to their discipline and research project.

  • Quality of the research proposal

The originality and feasibility of a PhD proposal play a crucial role both in the initial pre-selection by the EUI Professors and in the interviews in the Departments of History, Law and Political and Social Sciences. Applicants for the Economics Department provide a short research statement rather than a full research proposal.

  • Potential supervision

The department carefully examines whether it can provide suitable supervision for the candidate, taking into account the profile of the department and distribution of supervision among its academic staff for the whole of the period concerned.

  • Language abilities

All candidates must have a good knowledge of English. The expected minimum level of English language proficiency is C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

  • GRE
    Candidates for the Economics Department must submit a GRE test score. Candidates for all other Departments are recommended to do so.

See also: Interviews and Language Test

Do not contact us about the outcome of your application or interview. We will keep you informed by email of all developments in your application.

The policy of the EUI is not to offer individual guidance and advice on dissertation proposals. Do not contact potential supervisors but read the information on research themes and indicate one or more professors who could supervise your dissertation in the application form.

If you have any questions on the programme, grants, requirements, application and selection procedures, please contact the EUI Admissions Office – Email: applyres@eui.eu

Application deadline

The deadline for applications for the 2015-2016 academic year is 31 January 2015.  Application form, research proposal, reference letters and other required documents must be received by midnight (central European time) on that date

Submission of reference letters and applications will be blocked at 24:00 (CET) on 31 January 2015

Applications cannot be submitted after the deadline.



In History and Civilization , three main perspectives prevail, namely, integrating national historiographies into a European perspective; comparative, transnational and global approaches; and methodological diversity and interdisciplinarity.

The diverse national and linguistic backgrounds of faculty and researchers distinguish us as a place where different historio-graphical and methodological approaches meet.

Research Themes

In the broadest of terms, research focuses on the shaping of modern Europe; intellectual history and the history of science; power, society and ideology; and imperial, colonial and global history.

Transcending nation-state paradigms, our department examines the construction of Europe's boundaries and the diversity and complexity of experiences within them.

This approach is reflected in the high-level research and theses produced by our department.

Structure of Programme

The EUI offers  a fully structured doctoral programme in History and Civilization.

In addition to offering close supervision of a dissertation manuscript, the programme includes training in teaching, writing, research and other skills.

Our graduates are internationally competitive, successfully obtaining post-doctoral fellowships and academic appointments around the world.


Find out more about the EUI Doctoral Programme »


PhD in History

Page last updated on 02 February 2015