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Master of Arts in Humanities

Major: HUM
Degree Awarded: MA
Unit: GA
Program Webpage:

Program Information

The Humanities Division of the College of Arts and Sciences offers three concentrations leading to the degree of Master of Arts. Procedures and standards of admission to the degree program are given in the General Information section of this catalogue.

For the traditional concentration, the applicant will be expected to have an undergraduate background of some depth in at least two of the following disciplines: art history, literature, classical and modern languages, linguistics, music history, philosophy, theatre arts, and religious studies, or in one of the following interdisciplinary cultural studies periods: ancient, medieval-renaissance, early modern (17th and 18th centuries) or modern. Those who do not meet this requirement will be required to take undergraduate courses before admission is granted.

For the concentration in Humanities and Civic Leadership, the applicant will be expected to have worked in a profession for five years (unless the applicant has completed another graduate or professional degree program or is enrolled in the Joint JD/MAHUM program). Scores from the GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, or other professional examinations may be substituted for the GRE General Test. A 1000-word Statement of Intent must be submitted to the Humanities Graduate Advisor before the applicant will be considered for admission.

For the concentration in Linguistics and the Humanities, which is a non-thesis option with a focus on the study of language, the applicant should have an undergraduate background which includes courses in linguistics. The second discipline or area of emphasis will be approved by the Graduate Advisor.


Traditional M.A. concentration (thesis or non-thesis option):

  1. A total minimum of 30 semester hours as follows:

    • 12-15 semester hours in one of the following areas:
      art history, literature, classical and modern languages, music history, philosophy, theatre arts, religious studies, ancient studies, medieval-renaissance studies, early modern (17th and 18th century) studies, or modern studies;
    • 3 semester hours in methodology (HUM 609 or 610 or appropriate substitute approved by the chair);
    • 6 semester hours in Thesis Guidance (HUM 645 A-F) or three semester hours in directed study project;
    • 9-12 semester hours in second discipline/area.
  2. A minimum of 15 semester hours must be in courses at the 600 level, excluding thesis or directed study hours.
  3. Students who do not have one of the Humanities 591-596 sequence in their undergraduate record will be required to take one of these as part of their electives.
  4. Pass a competency exam in French, German, Spanish, or an approved alternate foreign language.
  5. An oral examination covering the content of the thesis.

Traditional MA with Thesis

Traditional MA: Non Thesis

(minimum of 30 hours)

(minimum of 30 hours)

12-15 hours in 1 discipline/area

12-15 hours in 1 discipline/area

9-12 hours in 2nd discipline/area

9-12 hours in 2nd discipline/area

3 hours in Methods

3 hours in Methods

6 hours in Thesis

 3 hours of Directed Study Project

Foreign Language Competency**

Foreign Language Competency**



12 hours in Philosophy

 15 hours in Philosophy

9 hours in Art History

 9 hours in Literature

3 hours of HUM 510/610

 3 hours of HUM 609

6 hours of thesis

 3 hours of Directed Study Project

Foreign Language Competency**

 Foreign Language Competency**

Concentration in Humanities and Civic Leadership: non-thesis*
(minimum of 30 hours):

  1. 12 hours in one discipline/area
  2. 3 hours in Methods (609 or 610)
  3. 3 hours in second discipline/area
  4. 6 hours in Internship (650)
  5. 3 hours Direct Study Project (655)
  6. 3 hours in Interdisciplinary Seminar in Humanities and Civic Leadership (636)
  7. No foreign language requirement.
  8. Demonstrated writing proficiency is required for admission.

*This program is also offered for a dual degree with the Law School (JD/MAHUM).  See the catalog of the Brandeis School of Law for details.


Concentration in Linguistics and the Humanities: non-thesis
(minimum of 30 hours)

  1. 15 credit hours of Linguistic coursework, three hours in each of the 5 areas:
    • Introduction to Linguistics: Required
      LING 518 Foundations of Language
    • Language and Culture: Choose 1
      ENG 523 History of the English Language
      LING 621 Sociolinguistics
      LING 623 Culture as the Basis of Foreign Language Teaching
      LING 630 Language and Culture
    • Language and Structure
      ENG 522 Structure of Modern American English
      LING 535 Applied Linguistics for English Teachers
      LING 603 Syntax
      LING 606 Historical and Comparative Linguistics
      LING 610 Phonetics and Phonology
    • Language and Cognition: Choose 1
      LING 524 Psycholinguistics
      LING 622 Psychology of Second Language Learning and Teaching
      LING 624 Language and Cognition
      LING 641 Recent Philosophy of Language
    • Any 500-600 level elective course in Linguistics, not already chosen: Choose 1
      LING 521 Teaching Techniques in Foreign Language
      LING 590 Special Topics in Linguistics
      LING 600 Independent Study
      LING 605 Summer Workshop for Foreign Language Teachers
      LING 620 Special Topics in Foreign Language Education
      LING 625 The Teaching of English as a Second Language
      LING 690 Seminar in Linguistics
  2. 9 credit hours in a second humanities discipline or area
  3. 3 credit hours in methodology: Humanities 609 or 610
  4. 3 credit hours in Directed Study Project: Humanities 655
  5. Foreign Language Competency
  6. An Oral Examination will cover the contents of the Directed Study Project
  7. A minimum of 15 semester hours must be in courses at the 600 level, excluding HUM 655, The Directed Study Project.

For students who are pursuing an ESL (English as a Second Language) Endorsement, the above MA Concentration allows ESL endorsement coursework to count toward the degree. For more information on the ESL endorsement requirements, see


Accelerated BA/MA in Humanities

Students who wish to pursue an accelerated Masters degree, will be allowed to apply to the Baccalaureate degree up to 9 hours of coursework taken for graduate credit. Twenty-one (21) hours of graduate coursework in addition will constitute the minimum number of credit hours for obtaining the MA. The guidelines for the Accelerated (BA/MA in Humanities) are as follows:

  1. Students must apply no later than the end of the junior year for admission to the accelerated program.
  2. A minimum overall grade point average and major grade point average of 3.35 will be required for admission to and for retention in the program.
  3. Student must complete the GRE and fill out the Humanities Division application for the accelerated BA/MA in Humanities.
  4. Student may take a maximum of 9 hours for graduate credit, which will also apply to the requirements for the baccalaureate degree in Humanities.
  5. The accelerated BA/MA in Humanities will be offered for the Traditional Concentration and for the Linguistics Concentration, but not for the Concentration in Humanities and Civic Leadership.
  6. Students who enroll in the accelerated BA/MA in Humanities may elect the thesis or non-thesis option, which ever is appropriate to the concentration and course of study.
  7. All students in the program will take either HUM 609 or HUM 610 to fulfill the "theory requirement".
  8. All requirements remain the same, including the foreign language requirement.

Departmental Faculty

All Division of Humanities faculty members who hold Graduate Faculty appointments
Elaine O. Wise
Assistant Professor and Chair of Humanities

Traditional MA Concentration Advisor

Annette Allen
Associate Professor

Director of Humanities Ph.D and Humanities & Civic Leadership MA Concentration Advisor

Mary Ann Stenger
Religious Studies Graduate Advisor
Tatjana Soldat-Jaffe
Assistant Professor
Linguistics and Humanities MA Concentration Advisor
Arthur J. Slavin
Professor Emeritus

Contact Information

Humanities - MA

Professor Elaine Wise, Chair of the Division of Humanities

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