Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Cultural Studies


Course Requirements

Students accepted into the Ph.D. program in cultural studies are required to complete 72 units of coursework, including three 300-level Cultural Studies courses, at least one Research Methods course, and one Transdisciplinary Course Requirement. The remainder of the units are completed in courses offered by the Cultural Studies Department or other departments at CGU and/or approved courses taught by the faculty of The Claremont Colleges. Up to 24 units of transfer credit for relevant graduate work completed at another university may be accepted.  Students are expected to  maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 (B+) in their coursework.

300-Level Courses

The Cultural Studies Department offers a number of courses, each assigned a 300-level course number, which are designed to introduce students to the foundational texts, writers, schools of thought, and disciplinary questions that make up the field of Cultural Studies. These courses are offered by all the faculty members in the Cultural Studies Department on a rotating basis, and at least one of these courses will be offered every semester. All students are required to take three (3) of these courses during their coursework. Two of them must be completed during their first year of full-time study.

Transdisciplinary Course

The Trandisciplinary Studies (TDNY) program offers a number of courses each semester and during the summer that examine specific topics from the theoretical and methodological perspective of a number of different fields. These courses tend to be larger, lecture-style courses with students from all over the university. Final projects consist of collaborative group assignments. All Ph.D. students at CGU are required to take one TDNY course within the first two years of coursework.

Research Methods Course

M.A. students in Cultural Studies are required to take one research methods class to fulfill their research tool degree requirement. Students must earn at least a B in their Research Methods course in order to have it fulfill the requirement. All research tools must be completed at CGU. CGU will not give credit for research tools (language exams or methods courses) completed at a student’s previous institution.

Below is a partial list of approved research methods courses for Cultural Studies. The research tool(s) should be relevant to the student’s research – for example, if a student intends to use oral history as a research tool, he or she may take Oral History 304. Students may petition their academic advisor to substitute additional courses for the research tool requirement. Research methods courses can also count toward degree units (this is not the case in all CGU departments.) If a student took a research methods course at a previous academic institution prior to beginning study at CGU s/he may be able to transfer the units for that course, but s/he cannot use that course to fulfill the CGU research tool requirements. Media studies students may take a media production course as one of their research tools, but they must get prior approval from their advisor.

  • Field Methods in Cultural Studies
  • Visual Research Methods
  • Film Theory and Criticism
  • Introduction to Archival Studies (offered by the History Department)
  • Oral History (offered by the History Department)
  • Introduction to Literary Theory (offered by the English Department)
  • Digital Methods for Humanities Research (offered by the Humanities Department)


Other Requirements for the Ph.D.

Most Cultural Studies seminars require substantial original research papers as part of their course requirements.    In order to be allowed to take the PhD Qualifying Exams, students must have a GPA of at least 3.3 (B+) in their coursework with no grade lower than a B.  While completing course requirements, each student is expected to make an original contribution to a field of inquiry within cultural studies. This contribution may be a research paper or another form of cultural production that includes an analytic component (e.g., performance and interpretation, exhibition and analysis). A comprehensive list of requirements is given in the departmental handbook.

Qualifying Examinations

Students must demonstrate competence in three fields: (1) cultural studies, (2) an area of specialization, and (3) some other professional area in the humanities. The selection of fields must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee.

Students are examined in each field. The three written examinations are followed by an oral defense and review.

The entire examination process must be completed within one semester. In the event that a student fails a field examination, the examining committee for the three fields decides whether the student may be permitted to re-take an examination. Failure on a re-examination, written or oral, disqualifies the student from further graduate study at Claremont Graduate University, except in extraordinary cases as recommended by the examining committee and approved by the dean of faculty. When feasible, re-examinations are given by the same faculty members.

Dissertation Requirements

Students must submit an acceptable dissertation prospectus for approval by the dissertation committee. This committee, recommended by the Cultural Studies chair in consultation with the student, consists of no fewer than three members, one of whom serves as dissertation supervisor. Each candidate must prepare an acceptable dissertation under the guidance of the supervisory committee, to be defended in a final oral examination. A draft of the dissertation, which takes into account the criticisms by the major advisor and is acceptable to the major advisor, must be completed by October 1 for students completing the degree at the end of the first semester, and by March 1 for students completing the degree at the end of the second semester. This draft must be in a form suitable for submission to the other readers. Deadlines for completion in final form are listed in the Degree Regulations section of the Bulletin and in the Academic Calendar


For additional information about the Cultural Studies program requirements, please see the department handbook.

2014 Claremont Graduate University 150 E. 10th St., Claremont, CA 91711 (909) 621-8000 Campus Safety Emergency Info Campus Map/Driving Directions