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MA Humanities

The Master of Arts in Humanities gives you the opportunity to explore the big questions in life while satisfying your desire to learn about a topic in depth. Its interdisciplinary approach means you investigate historical, literary, philosophical, or cultural issues using the tools of a range of different disciplines.

This degree enriches your career path whether as a teacher, journalist, lawyer, curator, librarian, archivist, researcher, policymaker, or anything where critical thinking is valued.

The humanities are defined as those fields that have, from earliest times, recorded – in script or sound, on canvas, or stone – the achievements, ideals, and even failures of humanity:

  • Art History
  • Communication and Theatre
  • English
  • History
  • Classical and Modern Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Theology and Religious Studies

While other disciplines can be considered, the nature of the self-designed study plan should be based in the humanities. 

The Humanities M.A. Program's last cohort will be Fall 2020 after which it will be on hiatus as John Carroll explores ways to make the humanities more visible at all education levels.

A Degree With A Larger Impact

Our rigorous curricula, personal attention, hands-on learning, and commitment to social justice mean you’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills for a satisfying career – and the leadership tools for making powerful change.

You have considerable leeway in crafting a study plan that fits your interests – and can situate it in any period. Past students have focused on:

  • Women and Gender
  • Global/Comparative Studies
  • Irish Studies
  • American Studies
  • Catholic Studies
  • Medicine & Humanities
  • Theory & Practice of Democracy
  • Literature & Society
  • Visions of the Self

Humanities students will:

  1. Integrate at least two disciplines in a sound interdisciplinary project.
  2. Demonstrate a level of critical thinking, data analysis, and use of sources that situates this project in the scholarship of the selected field(s)
  3. Demonstrate a professional level of writing and oral presentation skills (eloquentia perfecta)

Details on the application process can be found on the Graduate Studies site.


Female student studying in the library

Degree Requirements

Coursework for the degree involves two foundational courses – in themes and research methods – and a capstone that integrates your individual course plan as you pursue your own research plan.

  • 30 credit hours (ten courses) are required
  • Pass oral defense of essay
  • At least 15 credit hours should be completed at the 500 level
  • Required Courses:
    • HM 500 “Foundations of the Humanities”
    • HM 503 “Introduction to Graduate Research & Writing through Special Topics”
    • HM 598 “Integration of the Humanities”
      • A three-credit research essay carrying an oral defense
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Financial Assistance

  • The William and Mary McNulty Endowment for the Humanities provides scholarships on competitive basis for students pursuing interdisciplinary research projects.
  • The University’s Financial Aid Office offers assistance on student loans.
  • For teachers, the degree enriches teaching fields and is applicable to professional certification advancement. Teachers participating in certain summer programs may petition to apply this work toward the M.A. in Humanities degree.
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Challenging Curricula, Outstanding Faculty

Academic rigor is central to a JCU graduate education. In every discipline, we ask our students to explore, ask questions, be open to having their beliefs tested, search for larger implications, and discern appropriate courses of action. Our programs equip our students with best practices for future careers; they also create advanced critical thinking skills for leadership and life.

You’ll learn from professors and instructors who are prominent in their fields. JCU graduate faculty members are respected researchers, practitioners, and clinicians. Most of all, they’re talented teachers devoted to the intellectual, professional, and personal development of their students. We intentionally keep class sizes small so we can focus on the extraordinary mentoring for which John Carroll graduate study is known. Across all our programs, our professors take the time to get to know students as individuals and to center their teaching on those connections.

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Dedicated to knowledge in the service of others

John Carroll’s Jesuit mission – which includes welcoming students, faculty, and staff from all faiths – emphasizes cura personalis, or care for the entire person. We educate the whole person with a commitment to the dignity and value of each individual. Many of our courses include reflective components that help students more deeply discern their unique gifts, interests, goals, and professional callings.

A focus on service and social justice is key to our Jesuit ethos and permeates everything we do in the classroom, across campus, and in the community. Our graduate students choose John Carroll because they want to prepare for consequential work that uses their new knowledge to effect positive change. From curricula to clinical experiences to volunteer opportunities, a JCU graduate education is geared toward building a more just world and making a significant difference in the lives of society’s most vulnerable.