Graduate Program

Brown’s MA degree in Public Humanities offers a unique program of study for those interested in public engagement and the work of cultural organizations. This graduate degree program (which can be completed either as a professional Master’s program or as part of the Ph.D. program in partnering departments) provides a dynamic interdisciplinary opportunity for students interested in careers in museums, historical societies, cultural agencies, heritage tourism, historic preservation, universities, and community arts programs. 

The program is based in the 1792 Nightingale-Brown House, the second oldest building on our campus. Serving both as our home and occasional object of study, the house reflects the complex history of the Brown family and the Ivy League school that carries its name.

Our collaboration with humanities departments across campus assures a broad exposure to different methodologies and approaches to public-facing work. Cultural institutions of national importance surround the Center and provide partners for collaboration. These include the First Baptist Meeting House, the Rhode Island School of Design and its art museum, the Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Providence Preservation Society. The City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island have played central roles in American colonialism, the American Revolution, the transatlantic slave trade, abolition, the Industrial Revolution, and urban planning. Providence and Rhode Island have fascinating architecture and vibrant art scenes. The Center’s unique location provides our students with rich opportunities for research, scholarship, discourse, and public engagement.

Our program provides academic rigor while remaining flexible and offering courses in methods and theory in several humanities fields. The program provides experiences and training in a number of important skills including curating, exhibition design, cultural and non-profit management, digital humanities, historic preservation, public presentation, teaching, archival research, and fluency in current debates about decolonization and equity. A wide selection of classes at Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences can be configured to meet students’ individual learning goals. 

We help students select the best courses and internships for their area of focus, be it Public Art and Public Space, Museum Studies and Exhibition Design, Historic Preservation, Non-profit Organizations & Social Activism, or Public History.

Meaningful internships and intensive student projects complement the classroom experience and are integral to students’ professional development. Faculty and students of the MA in Public Humanities program work together to produce exhibitions and educational programming, articles, publications, and special collaborations with community partners in the region and within Brown University.

This broad academic and practical approach provides graduates with flexibility in the job market and preparation to succeed in a number of public humanities fields.