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A PhD in Cultural Studies, a dynamic, growing field of inquiry, equips you with the cultural expertise and critical research methods needed to transcend disciplinary boundaries as you examine ideological dimensions of culture and power struggles among competing systems of representation.

Cultural Studies situates culture as a site of power struggles between competing systems of representations and the ways of life that they support. Our scholars use critical theory to examine cultural practices and activist politics in a variety of intellectual and practical settings. As a student in one of the oldest Cultural Studies programs nationwide, you will study with faculty-scholars active in American and hemispheric literary studies, African American and Black Diaspora studies, feminist and queer studies, and many other fields. Your study includes training in field- and text-based research, ethnography, textual analysis of film and media, archival studies, and oral history, spanning the humanities and allowing you to tailor your academic experience. The PhD program offers ideal circumstances for collaborating with colleagues in other CGU departments and schools as well as with the other member colleges in the Claremont University Consortium.

Program Highlights

Program at a Glance

72 units

4-7 years

*Actual completion times will vary and may be higher, depending on full- or part-time course registration, units transferred, and time to complete other degree requirements.

Fall | Spring

Cultural Studies

PhD in Cultural Studies

Featured Courses

CLST 300
The Time & Space of Cultural Studies

Studies writers whose work has shaped the field, particularly in anthropology, post-colonialism, ethnic studies, feminism, diaspora studies, and geography.

CLST 302
Introduction to Cultural Studies

Students examine the various questions that have produced the field of Cultural Studies over time and read widely through the works of Nietzche, Marx, Foucault, and others.

CLST 308
Comparative Cultural Studies Traditions: Latin American & the U.S.

Explores foundational theories of Cultural Studies as practiced in the United States based on English origins, Latin American and Latino/a influence, Marxist theory, and cultural materialism.

CLST 346
Durable Empires and Medias of Mass Culture

Introduces Cultural Studies via the theme of “durable empires,” taking a deliberately broad view of “empire” to include formations of power under colonialism, postcolonialism, ethno-nationalism, neoliberalism, and capitalism.

CLST 315/AFR 338
Concepts & Methods of Africana Studies

Examines and deploys theories of diaspora and blackness, gender and sexuality, and the comparative and transnational study of African diasporic groups in social movements and signifying practices.

CLST 415
Ethnographic Field Research Methods in Cultural Studies

Provides an introduction to a range of strategies for field research in cultural studies, including participant observation, life histories, interviewing, socio-linguistic analysis, and other qualitative methods.

Additional Program Requirements

Course Requirements
72 units

  • Three 300-level Cultural Studies foundation courses
  • One Research Methods course
  • One Transdisciplinary course
  • Thirteen elective courses

Up to 24 units transfer credit from previous graduate work in relevant fields may be substituted for the elective coursework.

Research Tools Requirement

  • Two research tools

PhD Completion

  • PhD qualifying exams
  • Dissertation
Faculty & Research
Extended Faculty

Elizabeth Affuso

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Spectatorship, Fandom, Branding, Technology, Architecture, Moving image media art, Reality television

Aimee Bahng

Pomona College

Research Interests

Gender and women’s studies

Myriam Chancy

Scripps College

Research Interests

African diaspora with specialization in its literature

Jih-Fei Cheng

Scripps College

Research Interests

Feminist and queer of color approaches to media representations of public health issues

Ciara Ennis

Pitzer College

Research Interests

The appropriation of Wunderkammer tactics in contemporary curatorial practice

Paul Faulstich

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Cultural ecology, Ecological design, Ecology of expressive culture, Aboriginal Australias

Jennifer Friedlander

Pomona College

Research Interests

Cultural studies, Contemporary art controversies, Film theory, Psychoanalytic theory

Martha Gonzalez

Scripps College

Research Interests

Chicanx-Latinx studies

Jesse Lerner

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Media studies

Susan Phillips

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Community, gangs, and environment

Erin Runions

Pomona College

Research Interests

The intersections of biblical interpretation and political philosophies, with their multiple impacts on political subjectivity, gender, sexuality, U.S. national sovereignty, and biopolitics

David Seitz

Harvey Mudd College

Research Interests

Cultural geography

Where You Can Find Our Alumni

Interdisciplinary Concentrations

As a student in the School of Arts & Humanities, you have the option of completing one of five interdisciplinary concentrations.

American Studies

The American Studies concentration takes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of United States culture, society, civilization, and identity through the curricular lenses of history, literature, critical theory, and more.

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Early Modern Studies

The Early Modern Studies concentration undertakes interdisciplinary examination of history, culture, politics, and society within the transitional and transformative period that stretched between Medieval and modern societies, marked especially by the advent of print, Christian confessional war, and the rise of the modern state.

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Hemispheric & Transnational Studies

A comparative analysis of culture in the Americas, the concentration in Hemispheric & Transnational Studies explores how scholarship on the Atlantic, borderlands, and diaspora have reshaped U.S. American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Latin American Studies, emphasizing the topics of empire, race, religion, and revolution.

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Media Studies

Situated at the bustling intersection of cultural studies, new media, critical theory, and popular culture, the burgeoning field of Media Studies examines the creative and critical practices of media consumers, producers, artists, and scholars, focusing on questions of representation, power, technology, politics, and economy.

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Museum Studies

The Museum Studies concentration investigates the history and political role of museums in society, the interpretation and display of a wide variety of cultural productions, and topics of special concern to museums as cultural organizations, using a multidisciplinary, practice-based approach to understand the historical development of this evolving field.

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These concentrations are available for students pursuing the following degree programs:

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Frank Frias

Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-3240