Ph.D. Program in Rural, Agricultural, Technological, and Environmental History

The RATE program is designed as a Ph.D. program, but students without an MA in history will be expected to qualify for the departmental MA in history while progressing toward the doctorate. In some cases, the MA may be recommended as the terminal degree. Thirty semester hours of graduate credit are required for the MA and an additional 42 for the Ph.D. (72 hours in total). Students who continue beyond the MA are expected to pass a qualifying examination covering four general fields selected by the student, complete a dissertation, and defend it orally in the Ph.D. final examination.

Quick Facts:

Iowa State’s doctoral program in Rural, Agricultural, Technological, and Environmental history (RATE) offers a scholarly community and learning environment dedicated to the close examination of pervasive and enduring questions about rural and agricultural communities throughout world history, the technologies developed and employed by these communities, and the environmental contexts in which they operate. RATE is the only doctoral program in the United States to offer this unique focus. The program, however, defines the areas of history it addresses broadly, to include a wide array of faculty and student interests.

If you are uncertain whether your research interests match our program’s areas of focus, please context the Director of Graduate Education.

RATE generally enrolls about a dozen students, at various stages of the doctoral program.

Recent dissertations have included studies of the development of agricultural communities in California, the creation of farm safety programs in the mid-twentieth century, adoption of technological and scientific innovation by mid-twentieth century midwestern farmers, and work, family and community in communal societies.

Recent graduates are employed at a number of institutions, including Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Illinois College, Mount Royal University at Calgary, Southern Indiana University and Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo.


The History Department endeavors to provide five years of funding to all students enrolled in the RATE program, typically in the form of teaching assistantships. Beyond that point, students may apply for additional funding which, if available, will be awarded on a competitive basis. All funding is contingent on students making good progress toward their degrees, and on the department’s annual budget.