What is a PhD in Humanities?
The humanities focus on the potential and agency of human beings — considering humans as the starting point for all serious moral and philosophical inquiry. By studying literature, history and religion through a humanist lens, we seek to understand the themes of life’s “big questions” rather than to provide or understand the answers.
Doctoral study of the humanities involves imagination and speculation to determine what might have been based on limited solid evidence. In this way, doctoral study of the humanities is focused on human beings as the catalyst to great change through use of the imagination. The farther we move from the particulars or that which might be empirically proven, the closer we come to true study of the humanities.
Who should get a PhD in the humanities? Is a PhD worth it?
Regardless of your course of study, earning a doctorate degree is no easy feat. Deciding whether a terminal degree is the right path for you should ultimately be based on your undergraduate degree, your research interests and your future goals.
(Read about the best PhD programs for English majors on our blog)
The most successful humanities PhD students are individuals who want to study and explore the “big” questions in life.
Those who pursue humanities are interested in exploring culture and our world through history, arts and literature, and religion. They are inquisitive, and while they may not be the ones physically making change they are often the catalyst.
For students in some fields, pursuing a PhD is seen as a means to an end — the necessary step to qualify for a certain career or perform specific research. Those who seek terminal degrees within the humanities, on the other hand, are most often those who want to develop a deeper understanding of a subject for the sake of exploration and discovery.
A PhD may be worth it for you if
You are interested in pursuing original research
You want to work closely with faculty and experts in your subject
You are willing to commit six years to furthering your education
You want to pursue a career in academia or another specialized field that requires a terminal degree
Only you can decide if a PhD program is right for you. The path to a doctorate degree is challenging and time consuming, but those who are passionate about their subject and their research rarely regret the decision to further their education.