Pennsylvania Graduate Schools for PhD in Liberal Arts and Humanities Programs

PhD in Liberal Arts Graduate Schools offer students a full menu of doctoral degree options including several interdisciplinary PhD programs. Students who strive to earn their PhD on campus might have access to innovative centers and institutes as well as intellectual and material resources.

About Liberal Arts PhD Programs

Students who want to earn the highest award and conduct original research might turn to PhD in Liberal Arts Graduate Schools. Liberal arts topics include humanities, mathematics, creative arts, social sciences and natural sciences.

The premise behind many Liberal Arts PhD programs is that we live in a diverse culture. In it, questions about morals, social norms, politics, and other issues might benefit from a broad consideration that factors in, and draws from, multiple viewpoints and methods.

Study Multiple Topics or Narrow Your Focus

Some programs tackle one subject thoroughly, while others focus on multiple topics simultaneously which are often planned-out by the student. Either way, these are research-focused programs which often engage the learner in both in-class symposiums and independent study.

PhD Requirements

Most Liberal Arts PhD programs come with a set of requirements that need to be accomplished in order to be granted a Doctorate degree. These could vary by university, especially in terms of program length, credit weight and thesis/dissertation guidelines.

Required Coursework: In some PhD in Liberal Arts Graduate Schools, participants might need to take required seminars, concentration courses and electives to fulfill the structure of their course plan. Aside from this, and sometimes after the compulsory component, students might be asked to choose an emphasis (concentration).

In Interdisciplinary PhD Programs such as a Doctor of Liberal Arts (DLS) or Doctor of Liberal Studies (DLS), the coursework could

challenge students to analyze works from several  disciplines. 

These might include areas such as literature, art history, film, history, philosophy, women and gender studies, religion, political science, anthropology, history of science. They could then be tasked to write a progressive research paper, submitted and reviewed in stages, that demonstrates comparative, analytic, and critical thinking.

Comprehensive Exam(s): Usually after the courses are completed, PhD students may have to pass a comprehensive exam to show they have broadly mastered their field of study.

Dissertation: While there may be research and written papers throughout, a final paper (dissertation) is often required as a final part of the PhD program. Generally, this is an integration of the student’s original research. More deeply, it shows an ability to form and answer a question and to contribute new insight into the topic at hand.

In 2016, 849 Doctorate degrees in Multi/interdisciplinary studies were awarded in the U.S.i

Application Information

Some PhD in Liberal Arts Graduate Schools might accept participants with an undergraduate degree however a Masters degree is quite common. Prospective schools might also look for candidates with a minimum GPA of 3.0 although standards do vary.

With a completed application form, transcripts and fee, there may be other material that a school considers. See below for some examples but verify details which the schools you choose. There are programs that may want to see samples of writing or that the applicant has studied specific subjects already.

  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • GRE Scores

Choosing a Graduate School for Liberal Arts PhD Programs

Do you hope to find Graduate Schools for Liberal Arts PhD programs in a preferred city, state or country? Are your research interests clearly defined? Is your goal to choose one discipline within the liberal arts and humanities or focus on one of the areas that belong to it? Here are a few items that may factor into the decision process.

  • Placement Rate
  • Funding
  • Faculty Productivity
  • Research Interests
  • Graduate School Location
  • Available Coursework
  • Student-Faculty Ratio
  • Campus Facilities and Resources) (E.g. Rare manuscripts, study abroad)
  • Choice of Available Courses and Electives

Campus Liberal Arts and Humanities PhD programs could provide a lively community of scholars and peers to interact with. Frequently too, a university has ongoing collaborations with neighboring universities, libraries, and cultural institutions. All of these factors could enrich the rigors of study and might provide lasting relationships and professional networks.

Area, Ethnic and Cultural Studies PhD Programs 

Through a PhD in Cultural Studies program, participants could conduct research into a certain region and ethnicity to explore its traditions, history, contributions and dilemmas. Universities with these programs typically enable students to critically examine, analyze, and interpret the experiences, traditions, and dynamics of people both conceptually and in relation to other groups.

Communications and Public Relations PhD Programs

A PhD in Communications or a PhD in Public Relations might enable students to explore how texts, images, and other media function as modes of action and interaction. Students might be asked to look deeply into to those practices that organize public thought, identities, and social relations. University departments might also house some interesting Communications PhD programs in Media, Technology, and Social Behavior. Such programs might encourage conversations about the impact of race, class, sexuality, gender, locale, and other variables on social differences.

Economics PhD Programs

A PhD in Economics could provide a solid foundation in areas such as economic theory, quantitative research methods and applied fields. The ‘applied fields’ could include financial economics, labor economics, international economics or a related topic. Interested students might therefore want to search for a graduate school where there may be active faculty research projects which line up with their own.

English PhD Programs

Participants who pursue a PhD in English might have the opportunity to study many literary periods, authors, and critical and theoretical points of view. Sometimes small class size could mean students receive individual mentoring and often collaborate with a faculty advisor to tailor course plans. Depending on the university, these courses might draw from contemporary theory, historical periods in English and American literature, composition theory and pedagogy.

History PhD Programs

A PhD in History could enable students to more deeply understand the globalized world. In tandem, students often build an ability to think critically, write persuasively and navigate the ins and outs of culture and diversity. In terms of coursework, it could span a range of comparative and global fields, with particular focus in topics that may relate to faculty expertise. The history of religion, global and international history, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic world are some potential areas but there are more to discover.

Humanities PhD Programs

The humanities could be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience and are often studied through Interdisciplinary PhD programs. These are programs that may cover a lot of ground and generally aim to expand and deepen students’ knowledge base and expertise. Participants in these programs might study a host of topics not limited to leadership, public policy, social change, ethics, and innovation. 

Languages PhD Programs

Universities with PhD in Language programs might offer a dynamic mix of courses in theory, literature, history and culture in with the particular language of choice. These programs may also foster interdisciplinary research and scholarship that might allow students the flexibility to tailor their course of study. Interested applicants could strive towards a PhD in a foreign language (E.g. French), a romance language, or even linguistics.

Liberal Arts and Sciences PhD Programs

PhD programs in Liberal Arts and Sciences might discuss ways to apply the knowledge discovered through interdisciplinary study into everyday life. Within this context, students might choose a major in which to anchor their inquiry. Educational law and policy, ethical leadership, social justice and public policy are some examples.

Literature and Writing PhD Programs

Typically, a university English Department houses a variety of PhD programs in Literature, Creative Writing, Composition and Rhetoric. These are frequently very flexible in regard to course selection although each of these programs may come with specific objectives. For instance, a PhD in Literature might include areas of emphasis such as African-American literature, literary criticism, prose fiction, or women’s literature.

Philosophy and Ethics PhD Programs

There are many variants of a PhD in Philosophy and Ethics. Some of today’s graduate schools focus on ethical and creative leadership and may cover topics that relate to spiritual transformation. Others may focus on a more interdisciplinary program which could cover more broadly areas such as social, political, ethical and legal philosophy. In some of the more wide-ranging Philosophy PhD programs, students might need to take required courses in areas such as ancient, medieval, modern, continental, analytic, metaphysical and ethical philosophies. A reading knowledge of a foreign language may also be necessary.

Women’s Studies PhD Programs

A PhD in Women’s Studies could mean different things in each university. Topics that may receive attention could include feminism and activism, women’s reproduction and sexuality and female spirituality.

Apply to PhD in Liberal Arts Graduate Schools

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