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Institute for the HumanitiesAcademics


The interdisciplinary Master of Arts degree (MA) program in the Humanities allows students to pursue individualized curricula that incorporate classes from across the departments/disciplines in the College of Arts and Letters. We attract students with unique research projects and/or career objectives that cannot be fully realized within a single discipline and who will benefit from a cross-disciplinary approach. Our students become experts in their field by triangulating courses across different disciplines. Students work closely with the Director of the Institute for the Humanities to design a coherent program of study that encourages critical thinking, innovation, engaged scholarship and experiential learning.

The Core

The MA in Humanities is a 36-credit degree, 18 of which are core classes in the humanities and the other 18 flexible credits that students work with the Director of the Institute for the Humanities to customize to their particular goals and needs. Students may only take 12 hours at the 500 level. Students are required to complete their graduate work within a 6-year period. The core classes provide students with transferable knowledge and skills critical for any profession.

HUM 601 Introduction to the Humanities 3

This class introduces students to the study of the humanities with a focus on the enduring questions and ideas of human history. These include questions of culture, reality, society, power, truth, communication, and mediation. Students address these questions and ideas by engaging with some of the great works of social theory from the twentieth century.

HUM 602 Critical Methods in Humanities 3

This class instructs students in various theoretical and methodological approaches for conducting research within the humanistic disciplines. Students will become familiar with literary theory, critical/cultural studies, historical methods, qualitative social scientific approaches, and visual studies, as well as the conduct of research across disciplinary boundaries.

HUM 603 Strategic Professional Development Pro-Seminar 3

This seminar will guide students pursuing academic or non-academic professions to prepare and to build a professional development strategy for various careers using their humanities degree.

HUM 704 Technology and the Humanities 3

A seminar providing foundations for and experience in the critical examination of technologies and their human and social impact. Topics will vary and may include AI, innovation, social media, robotics, healthcare, gaming, art, and music.

HUM 698 Capstone Project and Thesis Preparation Seminar 3

A graduate writing seminar dedicated to workshopping and developing and finalizing students' required long-term creative and research projects. HUM 698 should be taken at least a semester prior to students' completion and submission of the Capstone Project or Thesis.

HUM 693 Capstone Project 3

Option for students who do not want to pursue a traditional thesis. Individual projects must be approved by the program director, but can include creative works, art installations, film and video, interactive and born-digital works, as well as other forms of community engagement. Projects are developed with help of supervisor. HUM 693 should be taken in the student's final semester.

HUM 699 Thesis 3

This is an option for students want to pursue a traditional thesis and/or plan on pursuing an academic profession. The thesis option requires a thesis committee and a chair (preferably the student's thesis director), a thesis defense, and the submission of the thesis via ProQuest, once all committee and style approvals are met. HUM 699 should be taken in the student's final semester.

Thesis Option

Students pursuing the Thesis must take HUM 698 Capstone Project and Thesis Preparation Seminar (3 credits), and HUM 699 Thesis (3 credits). HUM 698 will prepare students through peer-reviewed assignments scaffolded throughout the course of the semester. The thesis (HUM 699) must be based on original scholarly research and should reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the Humanities degree. Each student will choose a graduate-certified faculty advisor who will chair a thesis committee appointed by the Director of the Institute for the Humanities (complete M1 form). The thesis committee will direct and evaluate the student's work and must consist of graduate-certified faculty members from at least two different disciplines in the College of Arts & Letters. Upon completion of the thesis, the student will defend the thesis before the committee (complete M2 form). The thesis must be circulated to the committee at least 3-4 weeks prior to the oral defense. The final thesis manuscript must be submitted for style editing by April 1 (spring semester), July 15 (summer), and November 1 (fall semester). All formatting corrections must be completed by the following dates: April 25 (spring semester), December 1 (fall semester), and August 15 (summer). Once the thesis has been approved for style standards, students must upload their thesis to ProQuest (complete M3 form).

Non-Thesis Option - Capstone Project

Students pursuing the Capstone Project will take HUM 698 Capstone Project and Thesis Preparation Seminar (3 credits) and HUM 693 Capstone Project (3 credits). HUM 698 will prepare students through peer-reviewed assignments scaffolded throughout the course of the semester. Students are required to work with an Old Dominion University graduate-certified faculty advisor who will guide and evaluate their work. It is the responsibility of the student to locate, contact, and gain the commitment of the advisor. The student and advisor must complete the Capstone Agreement at least one semester prior to registering for HUM 693. The topic will be decided by the student in collaboration with the advisor and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities to ensure the interdisciplinary and humanistic scope of the project. Capstone Projects must include a scholarly component combined with either a creative, experiential community event, or project. The length, content, and direction of the project will be determined by the student in coordination with the faculty advisor and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities. After completing HUM 698, Capstone students will take HUM 693 Capstone Project in the semester they plan to complete and submit the Capstone Project (complete M2 form). Capstone Projects must be uploaded to ODU Digital Commons.

Linked B.A./B.S.-M.A. Program

The Linked B.A./B.S.-M.A. Program makes it possible for exceptional majors in the College of Arts and Letters to take up to 12 credit hours of graduate courses while completing their undergraduate degree and to gain a head start on a graduate degree. Up to 6 graduate credit hours can be counted toward both the undergraduate and the graduate degree. Students interested in pursuing the linked program should carefully plan their undergraduate course of study considering the requirements of the program.

Assistantships and Partnerships

The Institute for the Humanities offers 6 assistantships: Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries (2), Women's and Gender Studies (1), Women's and Gender Studies/Gay Cultural Studies (1), Strome Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (1), and the Institute for the Humanities (1). Students must be enrolled full-time (9-hours in fall and spring semesters), and must commit to work 20-hours per week. To apply, please complete an Application for Graduate Assistantships to the Director of the Institute for the Humanities and the Institute's office/program manager, Terri Hughes. All full-time MA students in the Humanities program are eligible to apply.

Potential research and administrative opportunities at The Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center (VMASC) are available for students who have research or professional interests that center on the development of new digital technologies and STEAM initiatives through the Institute for the Humanities and VMASC partnership.

Graduate Scholarships

Humanities Scholarships

The Susan Rowell Graduate Scholarship in Humanities

The Susan (Merendino) Rowell Graduate Scholarship in Humanities was established in 2004 by Mrs. Susan S. Rowell to assist a graduate student majoring in humanities. The recipient must have a GPA of 3.4 or higher, and must demonstrate academic merit and financial need (submitted FAFSA). This scholarship is renewable and preference will be given to students with full-time enrollment status.

The Louis I. Jaffe Memorial Scholarship—Art History & Humanities

The Louis I. Jaffe Memorial Scholarship supports a graduate student from South Hampton Roads studying Humanities at Old Dominion University or studying art history at any university. Deadline: March 1. Visit: Hampton Roads Community Foundation: https://hamptonroadscf.org/scholarships/graduate-medical-theological-scholarships/available-scholarships.

The Graduate School Scholarships

The Alumni Association Outstanding Scholar Fellowships

The Alumni Association Outstanding Scholar Fellowships were established in 1984. The fellowships are awarded to two graduate students in good academic standing who are attending Old Dominion University on a full-time or part-time basis. One fellowship must be awarded to an Old Dominion University alumnus/alumna who has been admitted as a full-time student to a graduate program at the University.

The Graduate School General Scholarship

The Graduate School General Scholarship was established to assist a full-time student in the Graduate School. The recipient must demonstrate extraordinary academic merit and must maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

The Meredith Construction Company Scholarship

The Meredith Construction Company Scholarship is made possible by an endowment given by the Meredith Construction Co. Inc., Meredith Realty, et al., and members of the Meredith family. The award is given to a graduate student demonstrating academic merit in his/her chosen curriculum.

*See Graduate Catalog for more information and additional scholarship opportunities: https://catalog.odu.edu/graduate/graduatefinancialaid/.


The Master of Arts in Humanities provides marketable skills for a wide variety of professions. These skills include:

  • Developing persuasive arguments about the humanities from a cultural and global perspective.
  • Writing clear and convincing scholarly research.
  • Thinking critically, analytically, independently, and innovatively about the humanities in addressing real-world problems and issues.
  • Ability to communicate complex ideas in written and verbal platforms with clarity and accessibility to a wide demographic.

Upon graduating, students will be competitive for a wide variety of professions including, but not limited to:

  • Teacher/educator
  • Researcher or writer
  • Technical writer
  • Editor
  • Administrator
  • Non-profit director
  • Archivist or museum professional
  • Gallery manager
  • Marketing manager
  • Political campaign strategist
  • Public relations manager
  • Foreign correspondent

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