University Of Texas Statement Of Purpose Essay

Admissions Information

Each year approximately 300 students apply for admission to the doctoral program; about 13% receive offers of admission. The typical entering class is about 15 students. 

The admission process is highly competitive; only exceptionally qualified applicants whose records indicate considerable academic potential are admitted to the program. Some of the students we admit already have extensive training in history, either at the undergraduate or graduate level; others have majored in related disciplines such as economics, art history, law, philosophy, political science, or sociology. Students are admitted to the doctoral program once each year for enrollment beginning in the fall semester only. The program does not accept applications for a terminal M.A. degree.

Applications are reviewed and ranked by a faculty committee. In making its decisions, the committee considers the following five primary factors:

  • Academic record (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample

The department is looking for applicants whose letters of recommendation, academic profile, and writing sample indicate a capacity for sustained, sophisticated, and original scholarly activity. It seeks to encourage a stimulating learning environment and a vigorous exchange of ideas by admitting a student body that is intellectually and socially diverse.

Deadline: Dec. 1, 2017

Students applying for admission for fall 2018 must submit all admission materials by Dec. 1, 2017. Admission decisions will be announced  mid-March, 2018.

How to Apply

All application materials are submitted online to the Graduate and International Admissions Center (GIAC). Please note that the application procedure is slightly different for U.S. and international applicants.

Application to The University of Texas at Austin

  • Electronic application. Available from the ApplyTexas website. Online applications are available one year in advance of the semester you are applying. If you are applying for fall 2018, the online application will be accessible starting on Sept. 1, 2017.

  • Resume. This document is not part of the online application; it needs to be uploaded separately through the Application Status Check website.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation. Letters of recommendation must be submitted online through the AppyTexas website. Please follow these instructions: on page 6 of the electronic application, enter the names, e-mail addresses, and titles of the recommenders; indicate that you are waiving the right to view your letters after they are submitted by answering the associated question on the application for admission.

    Within 24 hours of your application submission, an automatic e-mail will be generated and sent to the recommenders. The e-mail will contain instructions and a secure link to the letter of recommendation website. You can monitor your requests for reference and other admissions materials on the Application Status Check website.

    This site also allows you to resend a Request for Reference e-mail to your recommenders, add a new recommender, and revise your FERPA (right to view) status from retained to waived. If you have any questions, please e-mail

  • Statement of Purpose. A statement of one to two pages in length (no more than 700 words) outlining your reasons for pursuing the Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin should be submitted, either as part of your online electronic application or uploaded as a separate document.

  • Writing sample. A short piece that shows your analytical writing skills (e.g., senior or master's degree thesis, term paper). Recommended length is approximately 20 pages. If your 20 page submission is from a longer document, you may submit the complete document.This document is not part of the online application; it needs to be uploaded separately through the Application Status Check website.

  • Application fee (U.S. — $65; International — $90). Fees are subject to change so please refer to the ApplyTexas website for current fee information.

  • Report of GRE scores and official report of TOEFL scores (if applicable). Reports are to be mailed directly from The Educational Testing Service (ETS) agency.

    — ETS code for the University of Texas at Austin is 6882

Helpful Hints

Be sure to provide an e-mail address that will be active until the end of April. If you change e-mail addresses, please contact the Graduate Program Administrator to have your records updated.

Give your recommenders plenty of lead time when requesting letters of recommendation. You must submit the online application before your recommenders can get the e-mail directing them to the online submission of letters of recommendation.

Incomplete applications are unlikely to be reviewed. Check the status check website to verify receipt of application materials.

Still have questions? Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. When in doubt, e-mail the Graduate Program Administrator for help and clarification.

Last updated: December 2016

Some Tips to Consider:


Here is a tip directly from UT Austin:


“Leadership can be demonstrated by positions you hold as an officer in a club or organization, but other types of leadership are important too. Leaders can emerge in various situations at any given time, including outside of the school experience. Please share a brief description of the type of leadership qualities you possess, from school and non-school related experiences, including demonstrations of leadership in your job, your community, or within your family responsibilities, and then share how you hope to demonstrate leadership as a member of our campus community.”


The most effective way to respond to this prompt is to split it into two parts. Part 1 should concern your experience with leadership or cultivating a leadership skill. Part 2 should directly respond to Part 1 by analyzing how the identified skill will apply directly to a campus group or community at UT Austin.


For example, you could begin by describing your experience volunteering or tutoring at a local elementary school. Instead of simply saying you were “a leader” to the younger kids, focus on describing the types of qualities you learned and how. If the kids often struggled with paying attention or staying on task, you could explain how you learned to temper expectations, be patient, and interact with a cool head. When the kids recognized how patient and composed you were, they adopted the same demeanor when solving problems and improved drastically. You could even go in-depth about particular moments or instances in which you learned a certain skill or developed a leadership quality. Further, you can also discuss what leadership means to you, potentially touching on the types of qualities you value in a leader.


Following your anecdote, you can specifically show how your leadership qualities will be used at UT Austin. For example, if you are interested in leading outreach projects in local Austin communities or even other countries, you can explain how the quality of “patience” will come in handy when convincing organizations to let you work with them. If you do a mission trip in another country, patience is often crucial for forming relationships and overcoming social or linguistic barriers, as well. The point of this example is to show how clearly you must organize the response and how the specific quality you discuss in your personal anecdote must also motivate your application to UT Austin.


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