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What Are the Top Humanities Programs and Schools?

A graduate program in the humanities is often combined with social sciences. Learn about individual disciplines within the broader humanities programs such as English, History, Political Science, Sociology, Criminology, or Languages. Discover the top three schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in humanities and review the key characteristics you should look for when considering a program in the humanities.

What Makes a Top Humanities School?

The humanities include a wide range of disciplines involving the study of the human condition from a largely analytical perspective rather than an empirical viewpoint. You should determine which area of specialization you are interested in studying and then search for schools that are highly regraded for those programs. Consider schools that encourage multidisciplinary study, or offer small faculty to student ratios as well as faculty expertise.

What Are Three Top Schools for Humanities?

Stanford University in Stanford, CA

Stanford University ranked among the top 10 national universities in 2021 and was highly ranked for humanities and social science programs in 2021 by U.S. News & World Report; it tied for first place for its graduate history programs and tied for third place for its graduate English programs. The university also placed in the Princeton Review's rankings for top schools in the West and top values schools in 2019. Average enrollment is about 7,000 students each year, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. As an undergraduate, you can double major, undertake a major and minor, or design a major yourself. The School of Humanities and Sciences is the largest within the university. Some of its degree programs include:

  • B.A. in Classical Studies
  • B.A. in Drama
  • B.A. in Linguistics
  • B.A. in Philosophy
  • M.A. in Chinese
  • M.A. in Religious Studies
  • Ph.D. in Jewish History
  • Ph.D. in Islamic Studies
  • Ph.D. in History of Science
  • Ph.D. in English

University of California - Berkeley in Berkeley, CA

The University of California - Berkeley was ranked number two on U.S. News & World Report's list of Top Public Schools in 2021. It was also ranked first for its graduate programs in English, fourth in history and fourth for global universities. UC Berkeley placed on the Princeton Review's Best Value Colleges for 2019 and Best Western Colleges lists. If you pursue an education at the school, you'll be part of a population of around 31,800 students. The College of Letters & Science administers the university's humanities programs, the faculty of which has included 13 Nobel Prize and three Pulitzer Prize winners. The college offers you opportunities to study both inside and outside of traditional disciplinary lines. Some humanities degree programs you can choose from include:

  • B.A. in History of Art
  • B.A. in Comparative Literature
  • B.A. in Rhetoric
  • B.A. in Philosophy
  • M.A. in Music
  • M.A. in Greek
  • M.A. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures
  • Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies
  • Ph.D. in Scandinavian Languages and Literatures
  • Ph.D. in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

Williams College in Williamstown, MA

Williams College ranked first in U.S. News and World Report's category of National Liberal Arts Colleges in 2021, as well as placed second for Best Undergraduate Teaching. It has an enrollment of approximately 2,000 students and a student-to-faculty ration of 7:1. The Princeton Review included it on its Best Northeastern Colleges and Best Value Private Colleges lists, as well as its Most Accessible Professors and Best Classroom Experience roundups in 2012. As a Williams student, you have the option to participate in tutorial courses, which demand student participation to a greater extent than seminars and encourage close listening and discussion. About 35% of students at the school choose to double major. Some humanities programs you can enroll in at the university include:

  • B.A. in Russian
  • B.A. in American Studies
  • B.A. in Philosophy
  • B.A. in Music
  • B.A. in Literary Studies
  • B. A. in Religion
  • B.A. in Japanese
  • B.A. in Theatre
  • B.A. in German
  • M.A. in History of Art

Top Schools for Humanities/Social Science Majors

College/University Institution TypeLocationEstimated Undergrad In-State Tuition*
Columbia University 4- year, Private New York, NY$62,000
University of Pennsylvania 4- year, Private Philadelphia, PA$58,000
Tufts University 4-year, Private Medford, MA$58,500
Duke University4- year, Private Durham, NC$58,000
University of California--Berkeley 4- year, Public Berkeley, CA$14,000
Fordham University4- year, Private Bronx, NY$54,000
Colby College 4- year, Private Waterville, ME$57,000
Hofstra University4-year, Private Hempstead, NY$47,500
Colgate University 4-year, Private Hamilton, NY$58,000
Northwestern University4-year, Private Evanston, IL$57,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education