Ph.D. in Humanities

Learn more: Humanities

Students begin their doctoral study by developing a specific research direction and choosing a program area of inquiry relevant to their preliminary research problem or issue. Students use this area of inquiry to leverage prior knowledge and study, along with work and life experience, in developing an individualized foundation that leads to problem-focused interdisciplinary research and a distinguished doctoral dissertation.

Areas of Inquiry

  • Technology, Science and Society: Focuses on the impact of science and technology on society and culture. Students explore such topics as bioethics, environmental sustainability, and technology and material culture.
  • Culture, Language and Memory: Focuses on the study of language and memory as the primary means of reproducing and understanding our customs and ourselves. Students examine such topics as historic preservation, local history and new media.
  • Global Ethics and Human Security: Focuses on the challenges of building a common human community and addressing a range of worldwide human security issues, including corporate responsibility, democracy and peace building. Students investigate such topics as civil-military relations, community policing, and peace studies and conflict resolution.
  • Community, Self and Social Transformation: Focuses on how we can serve ourselves while connecting meaningfully to the larger world. Students study such topics as culture and values, educational reform and social policy.


To earn the Ph.D. in humanities, students take a minimum of 13 courses (39 credits), exclusive of the research and writing credits accrued through payment of the doctoral fee, which ensures access to faculty and library privileges through continuous enrollment in HUM681-HUM698 Dissertation Research and Writing for three credits each fall and spring until the dissertation is successfully defended. Depending on each student's background, additional preparation in the broader humanities or work in specific subject fields may be required.

Required core courses:

  • HUM510: A History of Technology
  • HUM600: Humanities Problems and Perspectives
  • HUM618: Humanities Theory, Method and the Disciplines
  • HUM635: Culture, Society and the Global Condition
  • HUM645: Research Colloquium

Humanities elective courses:

  • HUM500: Research Methods
  • HUM501: Social and Ethical Issues: A Global Perspective
  • HUM503: Global and Comparative Literature I
  • HUM504: Global and Comparative Literature II
  • HUM505: Global Traditions and Area Studies I
  • HUM506: Global Traditions and Area Studies II
  • HUM605: Philosophical Perspectives on the Digital Age
  • HUM610: Religion, Culture and Technology
  • HUM617: Political Philosophy and Technology
  • HUM620: Social Transformation Through Art
  • HUM625: Ethics and Modern Technology
  • HUM630: Modern Literature and the Human Condition

Program Phases

Students progress through the doctoral program in three phases: the proficiency phase, which ends with the concentration paper and language translation examination; the qualifying phase, which leads to doctoral candidacy; and the dissertation phase, which culminates in an oral defense of the completed thesis.

Learn more about program phases.

Low Residency Format

The Independent Research Fellows Cohort (IRFC) offers the same course of study found in our traditional program in an intensive and innovative format designed to serve qualified students who would not otherwise be able to enroll in our on-campus program.

Learn more about the IRFC.

Student Resources

Ph.D. Handbook

Ph.D. Dissertation Checklist

Ph.D. Dissertation Example

Guide to Dissertation Formatting