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Call for Applications for PhD and MA Scholarships in Comparative History at the Central European University (CEU) of Wien


Central European University – Wien (AT)

The Department of History at Central European University (CEU) offers students interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives on history from the late medieval period to the present. It is recognized for its innovative approaches to research and teaching and as a center for outstanding research advancing comparative and transnational history on empirical and theoretical grounds. Our international faculty offers expertise that extends from early modern history to the comparative study of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, as well as the post-communist period; from numerous aspects of social, cultural and intellectual history to comparative religious, visual and archival studies.

CEU is an English-language, graduate university located in Vienna, and accredited both in Austria and the United States. It is committed to attracting talented students and scholars from around the world and take pride in the fact that there is no dominant nationality on campus. Our student/faculty ratio is 8:1, allowing for small, discussion-based seminars and close guidance from faculty members.


Programs Offered

  • Master of Arts in Comparative History (One Year)The 1-yr MA program welcomes students to explore a broad range of topics and historical periods using the tools of global, intellectual, cultural, and social history.
    Since the program is short and intense, it is best suited for students who have a relatively clear idea for a thesis topic. The subtitle of the program “Comparative History” is meant here in the broadest sense of thinking about one’s particular project with consideration of similar developments in other geographic, imperial, or national contexts in order to avoid insularity and to keep in mind both the interconnectedness and distinctiveness of certain historical trajectories. (Students are not required to submit research proposals that carry out systematic, symmetrical comparisons.)Program Structure

    In accordance with the CEU academic calendar the History Department offerings are divided into a Pre-Session (2 weeks: September), the Fall term (12 weeks: late September to December), the Winter term (12 weeks: January-March) and a Spring Session (10 weeks: April-June). The Pre-Session (general orientation about the university and about the curriculum) is designed to introduce students to resources within CEU and the surrounding urban environment. The Fall and Winter terms consist of coursework and lay the groundwork for the Master’s thesis. For the one-year MA the Spring Session is largely research-oriented, allowing time for writing and research. Likewise, the April break allows students much needed leeway to do fieldwork or archival research. The university provides modest grants to assist students in accomplishing their research (in early February, information is made available about the application procedure for these grants). After the research break, there is an optional educational field trip within the region. In May all students return to CEU to consult with their thesis supervisors, participate in workshops with faculty and fellow students to present their projects, and complete their theses by the second week of June.

  • Master of Arts in Comparative History: From 1500 to the Present (Two Years)The program provides a systematic introduction to theories, methods, and research skills in history and related disciplines. The program’s regional setting and international faculty allows students to better understand European (with a focus on Central and Eastern), Middle Eastern, Eurasian, and global historical processes in a comparative perspective, from the early modern period to the present time. Successful graduates will write and defend a thesis of original historical research based on a methodologically rigorous employment of primary sources. While it is not expected that students engage explicitly in a comparative project, they are encouraged to engage with fields of scholarship that lie beyond the geographical and chronological parameters of their primary research subject.Program Structure
    In accordance with the CEU academic calendar, the program offerings are divided into a Pre-Session and Zero Week (3 weeks in September), the Fall term (12 weeks from late September to December), the Winter term (12 weeks from January to the end of March) and a Spring Session (10 weeks in April and June).
    The first year of the two-year program is integrated to a considerable extent between the Departments of History and Medieval Studies. It is intended to ensure good training in methods and theoretical basics as well as languages and other skills.
    The Pre-Session and Zero Week are designed to accommodate students to the CEU environment. The program includes an excursion, introductory sessions for students about resources both within CEU, course introductions, and getting acquainted with the available archival and library resources.
    The first term comprises several mandatory courses, while other courses are selected from a set number of mandatory fields (“elective” or “topical survey” courses). Some courses are separate electives for medievalists and modernists.
    In the second term the number of common courses decreases and the choice of electives increases (but they are still open for both Medieval Studies and History students). The number of special courses for each group is larger and preparations begin for the second year. A thesis prospectus is submitted and defended at the end of the academic year. Students start to work on the prospectus under the guidance of a supervisor in the MA thesis planning seminar during the winter term, to be continued in the thesis workshops offered in the month of May. The three-week research break in April serves for students to explore possible archival and other sources at home or elsewhere. The university provides modest grants to assist students in conducting their research. Information is made available about the application procedure for these grants in early February.
    The year ends with a spring session starting in the last week of April. Medievalists have a one-week field trip (prepared for during the Fall Term by a field trip seminar) to sites and areas offering insights into the medieval civilization of the region, and “modernists” go on an educational trip of several days to one or two cultural capitals of the region. This is followed by the Spring Session that provides further guidance towards authoring the MA prospectus.

    At the History Department students present and discuss the results of their research done in April with their peers and faculty members in the above mentioned thesis workshops. At the Medieval Studies Department the Spring Session primarily consists of a 3-week seminar period when elective courses provide further guidance towards writing the MA theses. 2 single-credit seminars have to be selected from 4 offered options.
    In June, the prospectus defenses of the first-year students take place in the same period as the MA Thesis defenses of the second-year students. Approval of the prospectus by a committee of the relevant department is a condition for continuing studies. Specific research tasks for the summer break are also planned.
    In the third term (the fall term of the second year) students take specialized seminars and advanced research methods courses. The fourth term and the spring session of the second year are almost fully devoted to thesis-related tasks (writing the thesis, attending thesis-writing workshops, and supplementing research results when needed).

  • Master of Arts in European Women’s and Gender History [MATILDA] (Two Years)Established as part of the EU Erasmus program, the MATILDA European Master in Women’s and Gender History is designed for students wishing to develop expertise in women’s and gender history, as well as European history, and who are interested in intercultural exchange.

    The program of study is spread over two years, includes 120 ECTS points, and links leading European universities in an exciting, innovative and unique venture. Students can expect to study at least two different partner institutions (a ‘home’ and a ‘host’ institution), choosing from among the following:

    • Central European University (CEU), Budapest/Vienna
    • University of Vienna
    • The Université Lumière Lyon 2 (coordinating institution)
    • The Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski
    • Università degli Studi di Padova
    • Ruhr-Universität Bochum

    The MATILDA curriculum includes courses in core subjects in Women’s and Gender History (theory, methodology, and practice) and specialist options covering medieval to modern historical epochs, such as: History of Nationalism and Post-/Colonialism and History of Post-/Socialism; History of Masculinities; History of Gender in the Sciences; History of Gender and Work; History of Gender and Education; Comparative History of Women’s Movements; Critical Romani Studies; Gender and Migration; Islamic Feminism in Historical Perspective; Women’s Oral History; and Gender and Religion.

    MATILDA supports integrative perspectives which go beyond local, regional, and national histories in order to situate these histories, as well as European history as a whole, in broader contexts. With its focus on comparative, entangled and transnational history, MATILDA aims to:

    • explore the history of gender differences and similarities in European cultures and societies;
    • investigate the role of gender in shaping European history;
    • challenge gender inequalities.

    Transparency and comparability are assured through the European Credit Transfer System and Diploma Supplement/Transcript.

    For further information please visit the main MATILDA website.

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative HistoryThe purpose of the program is to offer doctoral education matching the highest international standards in the field of Comparative History for prospective scholars and teachers. The particular – indeed unique – feature of the history doctoral program at CEU is that it focuses on the comparison of four distinct geo-cultural regions: Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe, and the Eastern Mediterranean area, in close relation to the history of other historical regions, most notably with Western Europe and the Middle East.

    Comparative history is often preached and seldom practiced in advanced historical studies. When it finds its way onto the agenda of Ph.D. programs, the emphasis falls mainly on distinctive regional-national fields with no connecting tissue. The doctoral program at CEU seeks to root the comparative dimension in the historical experience of the four distinct geo-cultural regions of Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe, and the Eastern Mediterranean area. We acknowledge that these regions are themselves constructions representing symbolic as well as physical and human geographies. But we endeavor to find the loci of these representations in both intra-regional and extra-regional perceptions. We seek to avoid the dual methodological trap of seeing the region only from the outside as something “other” than the higher cultural level and material development of the West or alternatively only from the inside as a unique and therefore incomparable expression of indigenous factors. In this way, the comparative program will come to grips with one of the abiding intellectual and methodological problems of writing the history of these regions: namely, the tension between “Westerners” or externals and nativists or internals, between the conflicting metaphors of orientalism and nationalism.

    A comparative study of the four regions poses several methodological problems for historians working in the early modern period or even up to the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The political domination of the region by multi-cultural empires employing hegemonic languages (German, Russian and Ottoman Turkish) facilitates cross-cultural comparisons, particularly of institutional structures and treatments of subaltern ethnic groups. The rise of nation states, first in southeastern Europe in the nineteenth century, then in Central Europe in the twentieth century and finally in Eastern Europe after 1991 increases the complexity of the comparisons. Currently, comparative perspectives for the modern period offered in the department focus on theories of fascism and communism, methodological approaches adapted from modernization and development theories, and cross-disciplinary approaches from anthropology and sociology that allow for innovative approaches to the problems and legacies of the communist era in the region.

    In sum, the goals of the program are to build upon a unique approach to comparative history, multidisciplinary methods, an ideal geographical location, a highly diverse student body, an international faculty, and up-to-date facilities and resources in order to provide new ways of investigating the historical problems of these key regions in world history. The research being undertaken by our current PhD studentsand the successful dissertations already defended give the best idea of what is possible in the CEU History doctoral program.


Deadline: 1 February 2021.

The vast majority of the students receive financial aid packages, including scholarships with stipends and accommodation. Research grants are also available for all students regardless of nationality.


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