PhD in Humanities

Get information about doctoral program options in the humanities and the requirements to earn this degree. Learn about prerequisites, and find out about job titles that a humanities doctorate might have. Schools offering Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Does a Ph.D. Program in Humanities Work?

Most doctorate programs in humanities incorporate core and elective courses within the curriculum. You may be expected to earn a minimum number of hours beyond a master's degree program. Capstone courses may be included within the Ph.D. program, but the primary focus is a thesis. You may also be asked to present a dissertation on your thesis, which allows you to present your theories to your peers and faculty members.

Degree Level Doctoral degree
Prerequisites Master's degree, or equivalent graduate-level coursework is required; some programs require basic classical or modern language proficiency
Common Topics Ethics, social change, world culture, foreign languages, technology
Potential Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth
Median Salary (2018) $78,470 (for all postsecondary teachers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are There Any Prerequisites?

Prior to enrolling, you must hold a master's degree in humanities or have completed an amount of graduate-level courses equivalent to what a master's degree would require. Certain schools have limitations on the course credits that will transfer; credits and coursework taken more than a specific number of years ago may not count toward your Ph.D. degree.

Some programs require you to express basic proficiency in a classical or modern language, in addition to English. Many schools take into account your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores before you are accepted into the program.

What Topics Will I Study?

Doctorate courses draw from the fields of religion, ethics, literature, history and politics. Using these subjects as avenues for research and debate, you'll explore how they affect human behavior. Topics may cover analysis of the arts and humanities, dating back from ancient Greece to today. You may also discuss the origin of literary fairy tales and what roles they have in today's culture. Typical humanities course topics may include the following:

  • World culture
  • Foreign languages
  • Ethics
  • Social change
  • Technology
  • Community

How Can I Use This Degree?

Once you earn your Ph.D. in Humanities, you'll become eligible for work as a college professor, though competition will be very tough. Some doctorate programs allow you to become a teacher's assistant while enrolled in the program to help you hone your teaching skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of college professors is expected to grow 15% between 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average for all jobs (

However, the job growth data from the BLS paints only half of the picture. Since many individuals who complete a Ph.D. program in the humanities seek these positions, competition will be fierce. The Modern Language Association of America (MLA) reported that the number of job postings for English professors decreased from 1,046 to 1,015 in between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years (

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

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • The University of Texas at Dallas

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Richardson
  • Salve Regina University

    Campus Locations:

    • Rhode Island: Newport
  • Pacifica Graduate Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Carpinteria
  • Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts

    Campus Locations:

    • Maine: Portland
  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Marquette University

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Duke University

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Durham