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Holocaust Studies Graduate Programs

This article will explore the difference in a master's and a doctoral degree in Holocaust and genocide studies. Various common courses will also be outlined.

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Individuals wishing to advance their education in Holocaust and genocide studies will find a somewhat limited array of graduate programs. Within these programs, however, lies a vast amount of concentrated information on the Holocaust, various instances of genocide throughout history, and a study of the many other influences of such events.

Types of Degrees

Both master's and doctoral degrees in Holocaust and genocide studies are available at a number of colleges and universities. The requirements for each type of degree are listed below.

Master's Degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

A master's degree generally takes 1-3 years to complete. Most programs require around 36 credit hours, with 6 of those credits coming from thesis work. The requirements for admission into master's programs are relatively similar across the board. Prospective students will need to submit transcripts from previous undergraduate studies, letters of recommendation, and a professional resume. Some institutions require an interview or a personal statement essay. Most schools necessitate a 3.0 GPA as well.

Doctoral Degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

For those striving for a Ph.D. in this area, a time commitment of 5 years is expected. The admission requirements are similar to a master's degree program, although some universities may require that applicants have a previous degree specifically in Holocaust or genocide studies, history or similar field of study. A writing sample and GRE test scores may also be required. Over the course of 5 years, students will take courses; prepare, plan and execute a dissertation; participate in research; and generally end their program defending their dissertation.

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Common Courses in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

For both types of degrees, there are many similar courses. Holocaust and genocide studies cover a surprisingly wide range of subjects. Aside from specific events that shaped history, there are also courses that cover geography, social aspects, gender aspects, and potential prevention of future atrocities. Outlined below are several common courses in most Holocaust and genocide programs.

The Holocaust

The primary focus of Holocaust and genocide studies is the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. Understanding the history of how and why Nazi Germany rose to such an extreme is an integral part of this course. Students can also expect to study the fall of the regime, specific perpetrators, and preventative measures.

History of Genocide

The horror and scope of the Holocaust can't fully be grasped without studying the history of genocide in our world. Common factors and specific instances of genocides are studied. Students can expect to learn theories, social influences and impacts of genocide.

Armenian Genocide

Nearly all programs will cover the Armenian Genocide in some form. Armenia's history, its ancient and modern structures, and the specific factors of the Armenian genocide are studied and compared to other genocides, including the Holocaust.

Gender and Genocide

Courses that study gender roles during the Holocaust and various genocides--in particular, the roles of women, are common. The responsibilities and reactions of women during such times of strife are reviewed and examined, as are the actions of their male counterparts and how the two differed.

Literature and Film

The Holocaust and other genocides have been written about and explored in film through both fictional and factual accounts. The importance and accuracy of portrayal of these events have a significant impact on how the world views the Holocaust and genocides. In this course, matters such as propaganda and various real-account diaries and letters are sometimes examined.

Jewish History, Racism, and Anti-Semitism

There are a variety of courses that fall under this category. Studying Jewish history and the Holocaust, as well as anti-Semitism is an important part of any Holocaust and genocide studies program. Courses may examine early instances of anti-Semitism and compare those historical events to anti-Semiticism in contemporary times. In a broader sense, racism, bigotry and prejudice are all areas of focus.

Psychology of Genocide

Many courses focus on the psychology of genocide through social and cultural contexts. Studying both the victims and perpetrators of mass violence offers students a better understanding of how and why genocides can occur.

For graduate students wishing to pursue a degree in Holocaust and genocide studies, there are multiple master's and doctoral programs available. Within these programs is a vast amount of coursework that covers all the facets and ingredients of the Holocaust and other genocides around the world.

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