Studies in Humanities: College and University Program Options

Some schools allow students to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in humanities, while others offer students the opportunity to pursue studies in a particular humanities subject, such as English, classics or theatre. Such programs are widely available at two-year colleges and four-year universities.

Schools With Humanities Programs

This is a list of top schools with humanities programs in the United States:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2016-2017)*
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $13,509 in-state, $40,191 out-of-state
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $47,940
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $47,074
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $55,056
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $45,320
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $10,488 in-state, $32,738 out-of-state
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $49,480
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $14,402 in-state, $45,410 out-of-state
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $12,920 in-state, $39,602 out-of-state
University of Illinois--Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $15,058 in-state, $30,680 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Here are some things that students who want to pursue studies in the humanities should consider:

  • It is important to find out whether the school offers a major specifically in the humanities, or if students are expected to choose a major in a particular area of interest within the broad field.
  • Students may want to look for schools that offer career services to help them explore careers after graduation, since humanities programs do not usually include practical job training.
  • When choosing a research-based graduate program, prospective students should make sure there are faculty members at the school with whom they share research interests, as they may serve as research mentors.
  • Undergraduates who are looking to major in a humanities discipline that focuses on a particular language or culture may want to find out if the school offers relevant study abroad programs.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Humanities programs are highly interdisciplinary and allow students to choose from a wide range of liberal arts courses. Many programs emphasize multiculturalism and help students understand societies other than their own. Alternatively, there are many schools at which undergraduate students can major in a particular subject within the broader field of humanities. Although students in these programs are required to take more classes in a particular field, they still receive a broad liberal arts education that emphasizes critical thinking and writing skills.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Arts (M.A.) programs last 1-2 years and help humanities students synthesize and expand upon their knowledge. Students might pursue an M.A. in conjunction with another graduate-level degree, such as a law or education degree, or in preparation for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. Artists and writers may find that an M.A. in humanities helps them develop critical understanding of their fields. Master's programs in the humanities do not normally include funding, so tuition and fees should be taken into account when choosing a program. A bachelor's degree with relevant coursework is a prerequisite. Examples of areas students might study in a master's degree program include religion, art, philosophy, literature and history, depending on their interests within the field of humanities.

Doctoral Degree Programs

A limited number of schools offer Ph.D. in Humanities degrees, but many offer Ph.D. programs in particular areas of the field. Students complete 2-3 years of advanced coursework and usually must fulfill a foreign language requirement. From there, they embark on independent research in their subject area of interest, culminating in the submission of a final dissertation prior to graduation. Most Ph.D. candidates are also required to fulfill teaching requirements. A bachelor's and/or master's degree and a record of academic excellence are requirements for entry.

Individuals who want to study the humanities have a wide range of programs and degree options to choose from. It is important to consider major offerings and research opportunities when choosing between schools.

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