Frequently Asked Questions

Regarding the Center and the MA Program...


What are the curricular requirements of the MA program? Completion of the MA program requires twelve courses for studends entering in September 2015 and after.  Full-time MA students typically complete the degree in two years (four semesters) of coursework, but may be given permission to accelerate to three semesters.  Students must take AMST 2540: Methods in Public Humanities and AMST 2650: Introduction to Public Humanities.  Students also must take at least one upper-level seminar in AMST, generally at the 2000-level; one semester practicums (AMST 2680); eight electives and a required but uncredited summer practicum.   See here for more detail.

Is financial aid available for MA study?    Public humanities M.A. students may request financial aid when they apply for admission. In the most recent year, most admitted students were awarded a tuition scholarship equal to 40 percent of the cost of tuition. The public humanities program also provides up to $500 per student each year for travel to conferences and to support research and other educational activities, and provides summer support for students undertaking practicums. For students looking for jobs during the academic year, the public humanities program also makes available a variety of degree-related  employment opportunities both at Brown and at local institutions.  One fellowship for the study of the public history of slavery  is extended per class year.  The fellowship covers tuition, stipend, and fees for the two years it takes to complete the MA in public humanities.   Current  tuition rates are posted on the Graduate School web site.  A small number of MA in Public Humanities students are awarded Curatorial Fellowships.

Where do students generally complete their practicum requirements?  The selection of practicum sites is limited only by students’ imagination and logistics. For their semester practicums, completed concurrently with classes, students generally arrange positions at organizations in Providence, Boston, or other sites in southern New England.  Summer practicum choices are not limited geographically and students have selected placements with organizations in New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, and Hong Kong, as well as numerous historic sites, museums, libraries, and cultural organizations throughout the U.S.  See here for more detail.

What kind of jobs do your students get after graduation? The careers of our graduates are very much dependent on their interests and the ways in which they have shaped the program to reflect those interests.  Our alumni work for various arts and cultural organizations of all types, including local  and national historical societies,  museums, galleries, libraries, government, foundations, and many other organizations.  See our Life after the MA page for more details.

What is the relationship between the MA in Public Humanities and the Ph.D. program in American Studies?   The MA degree can be completed either as a professional (terminal) master’s program or as part of the  Department of American Studies Ph.D program. with students receiving this degree instead of the MA in American Studies. It is also available to Ph.D. students in other Brown departments  through Brown's open graduate education

Should I apply to both the public humanities MA and the American Studies Ph.D. programs if I want to study public humanities?  No, the programs serve students with different interests. The MA program in public humanities is a professional degree designed for  students who intend to work for cultural organizations. The Ph.D. program in American studies is aimed at students interested in careers in college and university teaching, though it also provides excellent training for jobs in cultural or non-profit institutions that require a doctorate.

I’m applying for the Ph.D. in American Studies but want to get the MA in public humanities on my way to the doctorate.  How do I indicate that on the application?    Do not apply to both programs.  Apply for the Ph.D. and indicate in your personal statement that you are interested in the M.A. in public humanities.

Can I take courses outside of the Department of American Studies?   Students are encouraged to take courses throughout the university.  Past students have taken classes in the departments of English, history, modern culture and media, Africana studies, sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, and political science, among others. Students may also take courses at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University through cross-registration. See Courses for more information on current offerings.

Regarding the application and admissions process…

What is the deadline to apply?  
January 15.

How do I get an application for the MA in Public Humanities Program? All applications are submitted online, including a personal statement, writing sample, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Materials are available mid September – January 15.  Please visit the Brown Graduate School Admission Portal to create an account and apply online. 

If I have supplemental application materials that I can't upload to the online application system (such as a portfolio, DVD, or CD), where should I send them? We welcome the submission of additional multimedia materials as part of students’ applications. Send supplemental application materials to Brown's Graduate School Admissions Department, Box 1867, Providence, RI 02912-1867, USA.  Please do not send materials to the Center for Public Humanities.

Are the Graduate Record Examination scores (GRE) required for Admission? Applicants to the Master's program in Public Humanities are encouraged, but not required, to include the official report of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test with their applications.  Please visit Brown’s Graduate School  GRE Information site for more details on the GREs.  The GRE Reporting Code for Brown is 3094.

 How many applications do you receive? How many students do you accept? We usually receive about 70-80 applications and accept 10-15 public humanities M.A. students per class year. 

What are you looking for in a personal statement? Your three to five page personal statement should address the ways that the public humanities program connects to your background, interests, and plans for the future.  Include information on how you came to your current area of interest, what reading, work, and experiences have influenced you, a short description of what you want to study in graduate school, and the kind of work you are interested in after graduation. Your essay, like most good public humanities documents, should be personal, convincing, and well written.

 What kind of writing sample should I send? Please send a writing sample of up to twenty pages in your area of interest. That might be a short academic essay or something written for a popular audience. For example, you might send an artist’s statement, exhibition script, brochure, strategic plan, or grant proposal. Several shorter pieces are fine. If submitting collaborative work, please indicate what part of the work is yours.

Who should write my letters of recommendation? You should try to present a mix of recommendations from faculty who had you as a student in a class and employers or supervisors who have observed you in a public humanities or other work setting.

Can I make an appointment for a campus interview? Can I meet faculty or graduate students as I prepare my application?  The program ambassador who can help you arrange a campus visit, sit in on classes, and give you an overall students perspective.  Or contact the Center Manager to arrange a visit.

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