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History of Science, Medicine and Technology

Administrative Unit:History of Science
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Broman, Lederer, Mitman, Numbers, Nyhart, Shank; Associate Professors  Houck, Hsia, Keller, Schatzberg, Staley; Assistant Professor DeLancey


The department offers the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in history of science, medicine, and technology. Graduate instruction leads to research and teaching careers in the history of science, medical history, history of technology, intellectual and cultural history, science in general education programs, science writing, and museum work.

The department currently offers one of the largest and most diverse such programs in the United States. It gives attention not only to the internal development of the sciences, medicine, and technology, but also to their broader social and intellectual context, including institutions, philosophy, religion, and literature. It also allows students to work in areas as diverse as science studies, history of pharmacy, philosophy of science, women's studies, and environmental studies. Faculty research and teaching interests embrace the history of all major branches of science, medicine, and technology from antiquity to the present. The department encourages students to develop individualized programs of study.

An M.A. degree for students entering with an advanced health professional degree is designed for students with doctoral training in one of the health professions who wish to pursue a masters degree with a concentration in medical history.

Joint Ph.D. Degree 

Students who wish to obtain a joint Ph.D. degree in history and history of science, medicine, and technology must first be admitted to either the Department of History or the Department or History of Science. After completing a master's degree in one of the two departments, students must apply to the other department for admission, and indicate the intention to pursue the joint Ph.D. program. Students select a home department and follow the regulations of that home department with regard to seminar requirements, financial aid, and regulations for satisfactory progress.

Students admitted to the joint Ph.D. program will be assigned a supervising committee consisting of three members (two from the home department), who will supervise the student's subsequent work. The preliminary examination will test the student's competence in both history and history of science, balancing the material and the fields between the two departments. The number of prelim fields must equal the number required of students majoring exclusively in history or in history of science, plus one.

Students must fulfill the language requirements of the appropriate field of the home department. Since the joint Ph.D. meets the minor requirement of the Graduate School, no formal minor is required. However, students who wish to have a minor field recorded on the transcript may complete a regular minor or an internal minor in History.

Preparation of the Ph.D. dissertation will be guided by the student's supervising committee. Satisfactory completion and defense of the dissertation constitute the final requirements for the joint Ph.D. degree. The department also has a formal joint Ph.D. degree program with the Department of Philosophy. Students interested in pursuing the joint degree with philosophy should check with the director of graduate studies.

Doctoral Minor 

Ph.D. candidates in other departments can earn a minor in history of science by taking 12 credits in history of science at the 300 level or above, including Hist Sci 720. Courses must be completed with grades of B or better. No more than 3 credits taken in independent study courses (Hist Sci 990 or 999) may be applied to the doctoral minor. Credit received for the History of Science Colloquium (Hist Sci 950) does not count toward the minor. Students are strongly encouraged to include a seminar among their minor courses. Graduate students who are interested in a history of science minor should see the department chair or the director of graduate studies before embarking on their minor program.


For admission to graduate study, a high-quality undergraduate record is more important than the particular program pursued. Graduate students have begun work in the History of Science with a wide variety of undergraduate majors ranging across the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, although some prior exposure to college-level study of history is often useful.

For more information: Department of History of Science, 210 Bradley Memorial, 1225 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1393; 608-262-1406; fax 608-262-3984; mail@histsci.wisc.edu; www.histsci.wisc.edu.