The Future of the Humanities Degree

by | Posted February 28th, 2013


Recently, there have been discussions among university educators about the future of the humanities degree. Some are calling for graduate programs to be bigger, allowing for more choices; others, as is the case with Stanford, are trying to continue “fostering the debate with an emphasis on shortening time to degree for humanities Ph.D.s.”

Dean of MSU’s College of Arts and Letters, Karin A. Wurst, recently wrote a lengthy and intensive article for Inside Higher Ed about what constitutes as a “proper size of arts and humanities graduate programs.” She asks “What is meant by Right-Sized?” and talks about a “T-Shaped Education” and makes remarks as to possible solutions to helping create better graduate programs.

“By right-sized, I mean a frame of reference based on quantitative and qualitative factors like the following:

  • the demand in the field
  • the placement rate of the unit
  • the number of applications to the program […]”

She continues to discuss what questions should be asked when figuring out the “right-size” for a graduate program and proceeds to discuss different environments and suggestions for how graduates can utilize the shortened time-length to their advantage.

For those working towards a humanities degree as well as future applicants, it will be interesting to see what happens in the future for these programs.