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.
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
- Social change
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 (www.bls.gov).
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 (www.mla.org).