PhD in Cultural Studies: Online and Campus-Based Programs

The field of cultural studies examines the intersection between cultures and political structures, as well as societal views on race, gender and identity. Learn about the admission and coursework requirements for a doctoral program, as well as the career opportunities for graduates. Online programs are rare, but there are on-campus program options. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Do With a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies?

Once you've earned your doctorate, you may possess a broad knowledge of contemporary issues and interdisciplinary ways of looking at problems that can prepare you for a number of jobs. For instance, you can pursue a career as a social advocate for a non-profit association or lobbying firm, or you might find a position at a museum or cultural foundation. Your skills can be used to develop or manage a variety of programs or to organize service groups like unions. You'll also be qualified to teach at a research university, particularly in cross-cultural interdisciplinary fields such as applied humanities and social sciences, gender studies or media studies.

Career Outcomes Management of various cultural or service programs, social advocacy, higher education
Prerequisites Undergraduate or master's degree
Common Classes Seminar courses on subjects like globalization, feminism, post-colonialism and cultural representations
Median Salary (2018) $62,410 (for all anthropologists
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 4% growth (for all anthropologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

How Do I Get Into a Program?

You're typically eligible to apply to a Ph.D. program if you have an undergraduate or master's degree in any related discipline. If you're a post-baccalaureate applicant, you may need to apply to a master's program in a related discipline - such as sociology or interdisciplinary studies - at the same time that you apply to a Ph.D. program in cultural studies, with the intention of completing both degrees.

Or, you may be admitted to a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Cultural Studies program. Once you've earned your master's degree, you could be allowed to pursue a Ph.D. without reapplying to the school, using your master's work as part of your doctorate curriculum.

Which Classes Will I Take?

Campus-based doctoral degree programs are more common than online programs. Most programs promote small seminar-style classes in order to encourage interaction and discussion. You might explore topics like post-colonialism, cultural representations in the media or the literature and politics of globalization. Additional courses could include:

  • Race in the Americas
  • Feminism and sexuality
  • Literature and culture
  • Multicultural perspectives
  • Globalization
  • Transnational identity
  • Politics and culture

In order to prepare for independent dissertation research, your coursework is usually tailored to your particular interests. You'll also select a faculty adviser to act as your guide through the dissertation process. A typical Ph.D. program may take between 4-6 years to complete.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • University of Louisiana

    Campus Locations:

    • Louisiana: Lafayette
  • Indiana University

    Campus Locations:

    • Indiana: Bloomington
  • University of Washington

    Campus Locations:

    • Washington: Seattle
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette

    Campus Locations:

    • Louisiana: Lafayette
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa

    Campus Locations:

    • Hawaii: Honolulu