Cultural History Graduate Programs

Jan 28, 2019

Graduate degree programs in cultural history are available from several institutions and take an interdisciplinary approach to history. Find out what degrees are available, what makes each one unique and how students can apply.

Cultural history graduate programs are available at the master's and doctoral levels and provide students with an interdisciplinary perspective on history. Students may have the opportunity to participate in internships, workshops, conferences, seminars and other learning opportunities while exploring the history of material culture, media, music, literature, architecture and more. Here, we explore some of the similarities and differences between the master's and doctorate degree in the field.

Master of Arts vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Cultural History

Master of Arts in Cultural History

Master of Arts (MA) in Cultural History degree programs may require around 30 credits and can usually be completed in 2 years. Some of these programs may offer a thesis track or require a seminar paper that serves as a thesis, while other programs may also offer a non-thesis track that requires students to take additional coursework. Depending on the MA program, students may be expected to pass a foreign language exam in 1 language besides English. Coursework for these programs generally include courses in research and historiography, which may allow students to further specialize in particular areas, like American, world or European historiography. Graduates of these degree programs may pursue careers in museum curation, publishing, academia, digital media, philanthropic organizations, education and more.

Doctor of Philosophy in Cultural History

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Cultural History degree programs vary in length, but may require around 54 credits and generally take more than 4 years to complete, with some programs taking 6 to 7 years to finish. Students in these programs may be able to further specialize in a particular culture, like the United States, Ireland, Britain or continental Europe, and foreign language requirements may be based on these specializations, but most programs require doctoral students to pass an exam in at least 1 foreign language. PhD programs in the field typically require qualifying exams and a dissertation, but depending on the program, may also require capstone essays and/or teaching responsibilities. Coursework for PhD programs vary based on a student's specialization and research interest, but students are still likely to take courses in historiography, research and methodology. Graduates of PhD programs in cultural history can work many of the same careers as graduates of the master's program, but will have advanced skills for research and teaching positions.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to master's and doctoral degree programs in cultural history need to have at least a bachelor's degree, but some doctoral programs may require students to hold a master's degree. The GRE may be required by some degree programs and may be optional for others and several of these degree programs do not have a minimum GPA requirement. In general, applicants for these programs need to include their official transcripts and letters of recommendation with their application. Some programs may also ask for a personal statement and/or academic writing samples that demonstrate a student's writing and communication skills.

Students can pursue an MA or PhD in Cultural History and are likely to need to learn a foreign language and complete a final paper, typically a thesis or dissertation. PhD programs generally allow for further specialization in the field, but graduates of each program are qualified for a range of history-related careers.

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