Cultural Studies PhD Program Information

A Ph.D. program in cultural studies is interdisciplinary and draws from subjects such as film, gender studies, politics, sexuality and other areas. Students are taught to approach their area of interest critically.

Essential Information

Cultural studies programs have recently become popular and are replacing established graduate programs in literature and other subjects. A cultural studies Ph.D. program differs from other doctoral degree programs in the humanities in that it is interdisciplinary in nature and it examines a particular subject through the lens of power and politics. For example, a cultural studies Ph.D. candidate would pose the question, why would a politically underrepresented subculture vote in large numbers for a political party that does not represent their interests? In order to examine this contradiction, a cultural studies major would look at this underserved population within the context of class, culture and other mitigating factors while utilizing some aspect of cultural theory and criticism.

Several theoretical concentrations in cultural studies taught at the Ph.D. level include postcolonial studies, semiotics, poststructuralism, dialogics and subaltern studies. Some Ph.D. programs in cultural studies may allow students to focus on two such areas of study. A dissertation is required to complete the degree.

Generally, applicants must have a master's degree in some field of the humanities, though bachelor's degree with a strong academic record may be accepted. GRE scores, a writing sample, a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation must also be submitted.


Doctorate Degree in Cultural Studies

Before students can begin research on their concentration area, they must complete core courses in cultural studies theory, methods and topics. These core courses serve to introduce students to the field and establish certain critical and theoretical approaches, such as introduction to cultural studies. Some classes in a Ph.D. program in cultural studies may include:

  • Political economy and culture
  • Sexuality and gender
  • Post-colonialism
  • Social institutions
  • Nation, race and ethnicity
  • Visual culture and performance

Popular Career Options

Many graduates of a Ph.D. program in cultural studies choose to write papers and teach while employed by a large university. Other grads enter into the workforce and pursue diverse interests that utilize their skills in the field of cultural studies. Some possible career outcomes include:

  • University professor
  • Writer
  • Arts policy analyst
  • Editor
  • Cultural policy advisor
  • Advertising creative director

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Postsecondary teachers are expected to see a 13% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. The median annual wages for postsecondary teachers was $72,470 in May 2015.

A Ph.D. program in cultural studies requires students to develop research and writing skills while focusing on their area of concentration. Graduates can find employment as postsecondary teachers, writers, or advisors and analysts.


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