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Guide to PhDs in Liberal Arts and Humanities

Are you interested in becoming a true guru in your field? By pursuing a PhD in any one of the disciplines encapsulated by liberal arts – you are just a step away from expert recognition! With programs ranging from theological studies to in depth specialization in foreign languages – bundled seamlessly with relevant history, classical literature, poetry and sculpture – you won’t lack an identity with a liberal arts PhD. Gone are the days when people just worked to get a paycheck in whichever career. People are very passionate about their careers and do not want to be in fields where they feel more of prisoners than employees. If your master’s degree has landed you in such a career, it’s never too late to change. A PhD in a liberal arts degree program is your way out.

What a PhD in Liberal Arts Entails

PhDs are the highest degrees that can be conferred to a liberal arts student – the apex of higher education if you like. With it, a holder is entitled to teaching positions at universities or becoming curators at renowned museums. On average PhD programs take 6 years which increases depending on the amount of time needed to work on a dissertation. Although disciplines under the liberal arts fraternity differ, the following are basic requirements for any student enrolling into a doctoral program:

  • ” Required Courses: To forge a firmer understanding of the field under study, each PhD contains a set of core courses.
  • ” Elective Courses: Upon satisfying the core classes required, the doctoral student moves on to an area of specialization where interest lies.
  • ” Research: This is considered the core of the PhD program and a necessity if you wish to get into an academic career. Doctoral students are equipped with vital advanced research skills which aid them to get into independent research.
  • ” Comprehensive Exam: Prior to embarking on their dissertations, and after completion of coursework, PhD students undergo rigorous oral and written exams which act as confirmation of mastery of their specific subject areas.
  • ” Dissertation: This is a long work composed by the PhD student as a result of independent and original research which he or she is expected to defend in front of a panel of faculty members. They take years to complete.

Working towards a PhD is no mean feat and greater challenge lays ahead since there is very stiff competition for tenured academic positions. Predictions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the year 2006 showed that post-secondary teaching was growing exponentially. Owing to increased enrollment into colleges and universities; approximately 382,000 new teaching jobs will have arisen by 2016.

Discover the Subjects and Career Paths of a PhD in Liberal Arts

Any subject under the humanities is what’s referred to as liberal arts. A PhD in liberal arts can get the student into a number of careers which are not necessarily teaching related. Usually, liberal arts doctorate students follow the following paths:

  • English and Writing:
    • English as a field encompasses: comparative literature, English literature, criticism, linguistics, creative writing as well as expository writing. You may find a doctoral student specializing in literature, focusing on a given author or literature of a given time period matching them against works cited in foreign languages. A linguistics major might work in the philosophy, psychology and English departments – an indication of how versatile a PhD in English is. Language is used to communicate anywhere and at anytime – an online doctorate program in English would be ideal.
    • PhD graduates are highly sought after to work as editors, teachers, writers and scholars. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 10 percent increase in the number of writers and editors being employed will be recorded between 2006 and 2016.
  • History
    • By pursuing History PhDs, students can focus on their research on a particular field, era, or place and usually become fluent in several languages in the process. The students should be critical and able to analyze conflicting viewpoints of historical texts in a bid to determine what actually happened at a particular time.
    • Historians, apart from landing teaching and scholarship careers can become policy advisors for private organizations as well as the government. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an 8 percent growth in employment opportunities for historians should be recorded between 2006 and 2016.
  • Art History
    • Art History PhD students have a bias on a specific period or region of art and also master multiple languages apart from studying art’s view point in humanities umbrella. Doctorate students get to be critical to an extent that they study the mood of an artist, the strokes of a brush, relevance of a work and a lot of considerations that went into coming up with a particular piece.
    • Graduates from this specialization end up working as archivists, curators in museums, art dealers, or art critics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an unprecedented increase of demand for museum curators and archivists.
  • Communications & Media
    • Doctorate students in this field select a specialty upon which they build in-depth knowledge about mass media and communication theory. Popular choices for communications and media are the political and online media communication. These PhDs work as public relations specialists in private establishments or corporations. If the Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions hold, an 18 percent growth is expected in the employment of PhD holders with this bias, between 2006 and 2016.
  • Ethnic Studies
    • These PhDs study the way people of various ethnic backgrounds experienced politics, history and society around the world. Simply put, it is a doctorate study that makes the student to delve into other culture’s view points from an ancient time and progression into modern world.
    • If you graduate with a PhD in Ethnic Studies you can work for the government, corporations, or nonprofit r\organizations in order to enhance cultural diversity and tolerance.
  • Religious Studies
    • Before choosing a focus, students are exposed to all major religions and given foundational knowledge in all regards. Prospective PhDs who want to become ministers or work is the church generally, may enroll for a DMin (Doctorate in Ministry), having Christian studies inculcated in it. It is a more viable option compared to a ThD (Doctorate in Theology).
    • If you pursue this doctorate and decide somewhere along the line that you do not want to work in a church, you may work or teach in a non-profit or social service organization.
  • Foreign Language
    • To earn a PhD in Foreign Language the student is expected to have in-depth knowledge of cultures associated with the language, history of the language, and various literature associated with the language. They are therefore able to translate classical titles, write and publish novels in that language, or come up with a politically-inclined dissert.
    • You should expect to enter into a translating career or a teaching job in a college.

Know Your Options: On-campus and Online PhD Programs

When choosing a doctorate degree program to enroll in, the following considerations should be made:

  • Accreditation – Is the institution you want to learn in accredited? A PhD is a great investment: time and money. While considering your career goals, ensure you know the accreditation status of the school.
  • Flexibility – If you intend to be working while still in college pursuing your PhD, an online college would be perfect for you since it allows you the chance to study at your free time and convenience without missing classes.
  • Convenience – You should ask yourself whether there’s an institution of higher learning near you that you would like to attend. If not you should look for a distance learning doctorate program to save you from the hustle of daily commute.
  • No matter which situation you are in, there is always a higher education option suitable for you. Should you require financial assistance, you should approach your prospective school and get to know about various financial aid options that they may have at that time. A number of students work as teaching assistants to generate extra cash.
  • Whether on line or in a traditional campus pursuing your PhD in Liberal Arts; you’re making a worthwhile investment!