PhD in Liberal Arts & Humanities Programs
Traditionally, Liberal Arts PhD Programs span the spectrum of humanities, social and natural sciences as well as the creative arts and even mathematics-focused programs. A PhD in Liberal Arts might encourage students to use rational thought to solve problems and to think critically about issues that relate to the modern human through an analysis of history, culture, language and behavior.
An Overview of Liberal Arts PhD Programs
Liberal Arts PhD Programs are terminal and interdisciplinary research degrees. Students could also find doctoral degrees in any of the single content areas embraced in liberal arts and humanities disciplines. The latter focuses on a single topic (E.g. philosophy) but generally looks at input from many areas in order to shed light on key issues.
Depending on the university, there could be several main requirements involved in earning a Doctoral Degree.
- Courses and Electives
- Comprehensive Examination
- Doctoral Dissertation
Seminar Courses: Most PhD in liberal arts and humanities programs meld themed content with courses in research methods appropriate for the program. This usually helps students develop their ability to form and answer questions, use the tools of inquiry and collect data.
Participants who enter their program with a Masters degree might need to complete 36 credits of coursework but this number varies. In terms of length, some universities might
Some programs may also highlight pedagogy. Participants might spend some of their program teaching their chosen major. Coursework could include ways to plan lessons and course plans as well as ways to assess their students.
Electives: PhD students sometimes work with their program director to choose electives. This component might include independent study and directed reading courses.
Comprehensive Exam: Students are typically required to pass a Comprehensive Examination within one year after completing course work.
Dissertation: Additional courses in writing may assist students communicate the results of their research in a final dissertation. The dissertation format and requirements are set by each university. Students may be asked to produce new knowledge or frame issues in ways that cut across traditional disciplines but do not necessarily yield an undiscovered theory.
What are the Liberal Arts and Humanities?
The Liberal Arts can be broken down into four categories: (1) humanities, (2) social sciences, (3) natural sciences, and (4) mathematics.
As a whole, these disciplines study the human, the physical world and the laws of science that bind people with their environments. Thus, the aim of a PhD in Liberal Arts is often to develop critical thinking and a broadly defined education in courses that may draw from anthropology and biology to statistics and psychology.
While the liberal arts include humanities, a PhD in Humanities might encompass specific types of subjects.
- Foreign languages
Those who study the humanities might learn to engage with the material, think about it from a multitude of angles, problem solve creatively, and adapt to different situations.
Doctor of Liberal Studies
A Doctor of Liberal Studies (DLS) – also, Doctor of Liberal Arts (DLA) – immerses learners in the study of multiple disciplines. Students might find course plans that examine the humanities, public policy, international affairs, religion, science and their effects on modern-day society.
At the same time, students frequently have the opportunity to design their own program which typically includes independent, scholarly reading and research. Throughout their studies, students could learn how to synthesize what they already know in new and innovative ways while working to master other skills.
- Intellectual Habits
- Creative Thinking
- Broad-Based Decision Making
- Effective Writing
Other Liberal Arts Majors & Liberal Arts Doctorate Degrees
For the student who wants to cultivate both broad and deep knowledge at the doctoral level, a ‘Liberal Arts Degree’ could be considered an umbrella term for many liberal arts majors. On this directory, these are organized under specific categories.
PhD in Area, Ethnic and Cultural Studies
Area, Ethnic and Cultural Studies PhD programs might cover single content areas that explore a people and their traditions, customs, geography, languages and challenges. Students might be exposed to upper level lectures and seminars on questions of media, gender, religion, archaeology and critical theory as they relate to a chosen ethnic group. Asian Studies, Jewish Studies and African Studies are some examples.
PhD in Communications and Public Relations
Communications PhD programs could take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the relationships between people and media. For instance, students might be asked to examine these links within cultural, social, political, historical, economic and technological contexts.
Candidates might study to more deeply grasp of the field of communications as a whole and also, to acquire concentrated insight through research and coursework in appropriate disciplines. These could range from history, sociology or religion to business or international affairs.
PhD in Economics
Economics PhD programs often meld economic theory, quantitative research methods and applied fields such as labor economics. Requirements could include core course work, comprehensive examinations, a doctoral dissertation, and a one-year residence (teaching/internship).
Compulsory courses such as micro-theory macro-theory, mathematics for economists, statistics and econometrics might be included in the first year. From there, students typically take electives which might be drawn from management, finance or another department.
DID YOU KNOW?
O’Net reports that 58% of economists have a Doctorate Degree.i
PhD in English
English PhD programs may provide an opportunity for study in British and American Literature. Plus, each university might have individual strengths in areas such as Modern Literature, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 19th century Literature. Apart from the textual component, students might engage in elements such as rhetorical discourse, ethnic studies, cultural studies, science studies and creative writing.
Through their thesis and dissertation projects, students could hone their ability to use and interpret theories as they build skills in research and bibliography. Participants may be encouraged and/or required to produce publishable scholarly work and so, might look for a university where they might receive mentorship in their chosen subject.
PhD in History
History PhD programs often encourage students to study the past to enrich how we see events and to generate new questions and avenues of inquiry. Participants might also learn how to use the historical method to solve historical and historiographical problems as they apply points of view related to class, race, gender, etc. to historical events and trends.
Apart from upper level history classes, students might choose a major and/or a minor to anchor their research more narrowly. United States, Modern Europe, Medieval Studies, Gender and Women’s History are some examples.
PhD in Humanities
Students could study to earn a PhD in one of the humanities (E.g. PhD in Journalism) or look into Interdisciplinary PhD Programs. PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies programs by their nature tend to draw content from several sources and may be rooted in human values and ethics.
- Public Policy
- Social Change
- Textual Traditions
- Visual Culture
Program participants might also be encouraged to research a personally meaningful topic and to conduct socially relevant study. Areas of interest could include ethical leadership, education, public policy and culture.
PhD in Languages
PhD programs in Languages could specifically focus on areas such as Linguistics, Romance Languages or the language of a foreign culture such as Hindi, German or French. Each of these themes comes with its own courses. For instance, in a PhD in Linguistics, students might zero in on topics such as syntax, phonetics, semantics and morphology.
By comparison, some graduate schools might offer programs that highlight translation. A PhD in Translation Studies might stress topics such as translation research skills, computer-assisted terminology, software localization and project management for the language industry.
PhD in Liberal Arts and Sciences
Today’s PhD programs in Liberal Arts and Sciences might discuss ways to bring spirituality into leadership, water science, or educational law and policy. Students might conduct research around areas such as globalization, war, peace, religion, politics, environmental issues, and major events of human history.
PhD in Literature and Writing
A PhD in Literature and Writing could explore traditional literary fields, cultural studies, ethnic literatures, and gender studies. Curricula often stack graduate seminars and writing workshops, onto individually designed tutorials. Students might also take part in round table discussions devoted to teaching and professional development.
PhD in Philosophy and Ethics
Philosophy PhD programs seek answers to basic questions that have humans have asked and continue to ask throughout time. These might pertain to the nature of knowledge, truth, rationality, language, human being, transcendence, God and faith, beauty, good vs. evil, justice, humanity, friendship, love, sexuality, identity, power, honesty, and beyond.
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Philosophy could cover social, political, ethical and legal philosophy. Students might be exposed to advanced coursework and individual research in classical, modern and contemporary social and political philosophy, as well as ethics and the philosophy of law. Some programs also cover metaphysics and epistemology.
Program participants may also need a reading knowledge of one foreign language such as German, French, Greek or Latin. The language then becomes a research tool for the dissertation.
PhD in Women’s Studies
A PhD in Women’s Studies puts the study of the female gender in the spotlight although each program may do so from a particular stance. This could be feminist thought, reproduction, women’s spirituality or a related topic. Coursework might integrate elements from women/gender studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, philosophy and religion with an aim to address a key issue such as oppression or inequality.
Due to the variety of PhD programs in Liberal Arts and Humanities, students are advised to refer to university guidelines about application forms and admission requirements. That stated, some things to be watchful for are listed below. Make your own list to stay organized once you have checked individual programs and grad schools.
- Minimum GPA
- Undergraduate and Graduate Transcripts
- GRE Scores
- Letters of Recommendation
- Resume or CV
- Personal Statement
- Academic Papers (writing sample)
Earn a PhD in Liberal Arts & Humanities Online or On-campus
Do you want to earn a Doctorate degree in Liberal Arts and Humanities with convenience and flexibility? If so, online courses typically allow students to study anytime, anywhere.
Participants attend class in a virtual environment. One that may still challenge them to interact and engage in discussions through digitally inspired tools like email, online threads, chats and video conferencing. Deadlines for any assignments still must be met, but there may not be any set log in times. Tip: Choose ‘online’ from the menu along with your preferred subject.
By contrast, if you prefer to get to know people in real-time, sit at colloquia with peers and listen to live lectures from faculty members, campus-based programs could be suitable.
Usually there are set times for classes, but these may be offered in evenings which may also appeal to the at-work and busy adult. Plus, one might have the opportunity to network and forge relationships that go beyond the classroom. Tip: Use the menu to look for graduate schools with PhD programs in a specified city, state or county.
Apply to Liberal Arts PhD Programs
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University at Buffalo