A colleague in the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma informed me on Friday that he had sent a student my way to ask me advice about graduate programs that he might apply to. Apparently he’s interested in pursuing a PhD in either political theory or U.S. intellectual history (insert joke about “or unemployment” if you must).
As to political theory programs, I simply have no informed opinion (nor do I feel I should). And while I would have some advice to give about what programs are good for U.S. intellectual history, I fear my advice may be out of date. I will probably tell the student that our subfield is small enough that, with the exception of a handful of places, the choice ought really to be based on a consideration of the overall program in history, as well as a consideration of the particular person with whom one would be likely to write a PhD in intellectual history.
Most of my fellow bloggers are closer to the PhD (and the job market) than I am, so they might have a better sense of the graduate educational lay of the land these days. And I’d imagine many of our readers are at institutions with PhDs programs featuring a greater (or lesser) emphasis on intellectual history who can share some local knowledge about their own institutions.
FWIW, the University of Oklahoma has some fine intellectual historians, but has a graduate history program very much focused on Western, Native American, and environmental history. We also have a first-rate, stand-alone History of Science department.
So consider the comment thread below an open conversation about my colleague’s student’s question. And be warned that I might share whatever advice you give with him.