Blog Post

Female Student, 21, looking for Perfect Digital Humanities Program, 2013

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you would know that my tweets have been peppered with the hash tag “#GradSchoolGrind”, a nice phrase that I have been using to describe the grueling process of taking the next step in one’s academic career. Currently I have applied to three Ph.D. programs and I have two more to go for next year, but I wanted to reflect on some of the schools that have caught my interest due to their affiliation with Digital Humanities based pursuits. I would hope that this post can be taken as a resource for other people who are applying to graduate school and as a basis for other graduate students to chime in about how their programs are embracing the Digital Humanities or to give suggestions to the other HASTAC undergrads pursuing further academic education. Due to my particular background most of these programs have a Communication focus that gives students the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies.

1.      Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU

Currently NYU offers both a Masters and a Ph.D. program under the heading of Media, Culture, and Communication at the Steinhardt School. What caught my eye about this program was the new addition of obtaining a dual degree at Long Island University in MCLS/MA in Media, Culture, and Communication/Library and Information Science. As many of us know, Librarianship is a great alternative academic career, so NYU is a good program to develop both practical and theoretical skills.

2.      Communication Studies at American University

If Washington, D.C. politics are your forte then American University might just be the place for you. This Communication program gives you the option to explore a variety of paths by building an individualized interdisciplinary course of education. A great choice for those that have an interest in the way that media works in conjunction with the government and corporations.

3.      Critical Studies at USC

With a host of well-known academics (Henry Jenkins, Tara McPherson, Todd E. Boyd, etc) in a variety of disciplines, the Critical Studies program at USC is housed within the Cinematic Arts department and focuses on the theoretical analysis of media texts. With a great reputation and both an MA and Ph.D. program, this is a great school for those who are interested in the many ways that the media shapes our culture and existence.

4.      Comparative Media Studies at MIT

Another school that caught my eye due to its focus on theory and the great faculty was MIT, of course (Nick Montfort and Junot Diaz anyone?). With the variety of Labs, such as The Digital Humanities Lab and The Imagination, Computation, and Expression Lab, this school is on the cutting edge of utilizing and analyzing new media technology. And who doesn’t want to live in Boston for a few years.

5.      Digital Media at Georgia Tech

One of the more practice based Ph.D./Masters programs on the list, Digital Media at Georgia Tech (as well as Human-Computer Interaction) are both great programs for those that want to produce and analyze texts. With professors like Janet Murray and Ian Bogost, as well as a host of labs and media projects this is definitely the place for those who are interested in both Computer Science and Humanities based learning.

6.      Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford

While this is an English based Ph.D. program, it is also incredibly interdisciplinary, with a half and half approach to combining English with the student’s other interests. Students that enter into this program can choose from a variety of other programs and professors within the school to shape their course of study and dissertation project.

This list is by no means the extent of schools that I have researched but it’s a concise list of some key places that I think other HASTAC scholars and participants would be interested in. Feel free to research them for yourself and to add your comments below. Happy Grad School Hunting!



Hi Faithe,

All of these programs sound dynamic and challenging. Thank you for sharing your list with us.  You might also add North Carolina State's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM) program to your list, especially if you have a background/interest in communications and new media.

You might also check out Clemson University's Ph.D. program in Rhetoric, Communication, and Information Design.  It looks like they've got some pretty interesting stuff going on there.

Finally, if you have a leaning toward rhetoric and composition or DH studies, you might consider my home institution, Washington State University.  Our English department has excellent faculty who are doing work in writing, the digital humanities, and new media.  We are lucky to have:

  • Kristin Arola (who runs our Digital Technology and Culture Program),
  • Roger Whitson (our new Digital Humanities hire who is doing neat stuff with DH and the Romantics),
  • Mike Edwards (who focuses on rhetorics, economics, and new media), and
  • Patricia Ericsson (our Composition Program director who is also doing innovative research in rhetorics and technologies).  

There are other folks in our program (including students) doing work in digital media and the humanities/rhetorics, but these are just a few.  If you want to learn more about our program or chat with any of our faculty,  feel free to shoot them—or our Graduate Director, William Hamlin—an email.  I'd be happy to talk with you as well.

Good luck finishing up your applications.  I know it can be an exhausting process!  


UC-Santa Barbara's English Department? (Caveat: my alma mater.)

Alan Liu, Rita Raley, and Jeremy Douglass all do great things there. In addition Patricia Fumerton runs the English Broadside Ballad Archive if you want to get your Early Modern DH on. Look into the Technology and Society PhD empahasis.


Hi there! I am a Doctoral Student in Comm Studies at UNC.

The bit of advice I am going to give you is that you should also look beyond the program to see what Universities have institutes, programs, or labs that might be helpful even if the department you are applying to is different.  When you enter a PhD program while you are making a committment to that discipline and program, you are able to work with people outside of your department at your University and often times at other area Universities.  While my department is not big on the digital humanities, the people I've been able to work with in other departments and at other area Universities have been wonderful.  Additionally, when I started my PhD it was before Digital Humanities was "the next big thing".  Despite this, my department was happy & excited to have me.  As a result, I have a really supportive and wonderful core group guiding me who also giving me the freedom to explore.  Now that our Uni has a Digital Innovation lab, my support system continues to grow in ways I did not think were possible when I first applied and was accepted.  I don't believe there can be a perfect program.  You sort of find a way to make it yourself when you find the program that has the people who can help you do the best work you can.