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Public Humanities

The master's program in Public Humanities offers a dynamic interdisciplinary opportunity for students interested in careers in museums, historical societies, cultural planning agencies, heritage tourism, historic preservation and community arts programs.

The program draws on Brown's Open Curriculum and the wide-ranging resources of Providence's arts and cultural community to connect students to academic and hands-on learning experiences.

Additional Resources

Students in the public humanities program are encouraged to take courses in departments across the University and at the Rhode Island School of Design. Students are also able to cross-register for classes at Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, home of the M.A. program in public humanities, sponsors many workshops, lecturers, and visitors. Students undertake two practicums (one credited; one uncredited but required) gaining professional experience and the opportunity to reflect on the theory and practice of the field. In recent years, students have found placements at museums, universities, state, city and federal agencies, and archives and libraries.

A fellowship for the study of the public history of slavery is available for students in the program who are interested in working in museums and other cultural institutions on issues related to the history and legacy of slavery. Recipients of the fellowship for the study of the public history of slavery receive an award that covers tuition, stipend, and fees for the two years it takes to complete the M.A. in public humanities. Fellowship recipients are selected based on relevant experience in museums and cultural institutions and academic coursework on related topics. Please visit the website for more information about the study of the public history of slavery fellowship.

In collaboration with Brown University's Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative (NAISI), the Center for Public Humanities offers a fellowship to graduate students interested in working for, and leading, Native American cultural institutions, archives, libraries or museums. One fully–supported two–year fellowship (includes tuition, fees, and a stipend) is available each year for a student to pursue an M.A. in Public Humanities dedicated to increasing the understanding and maintenance of the cultural traditions and political experiences of Indigenous Peoples. We welcome students coming right from college or those who have already been working in their communities. Please visit the fellowship website for more information about NAISI fellowship.

The M.A. program in public humanities participates in City Year's University Partnership. City Year corps members, alumni and current/former staff who are accepted to the public humanities M.A. program are eligible for financial assistance, including a waiver that covers their application. For more information, visit City Year.

Admission Requirements

Please note that the following requirements are for the previous application cycle and will be updated in late Summer 2021.

  • GRE General: Not required
  • GRE Subject: Not required
  • Personal Statement: 1000-1500 word personal statement that gives your reasons to pursue graduate work in the field of your study. The statement should include examples of your past work in your chosen field, your plans for study at Brown, issues and problems you'd like to address in your field and your professional goals.
  • Recommendations: Three (3) recommendations required
  • Resume: Required
  • Additional Materials: Writing sample required (up to 20 pages in area of interest and can include academic and popular writing)
  • TOEFL/IELTS: Required for any non-native English speaker who does not have a degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction or from a University in the following countries: Australia, Bahamas, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada (except Quebec), Ethiopia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Gambia, Uganda, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales), West Indies, Zambia).

We will NOT be accepting the TOEFL at home version or the IELTS Indicator exam. However, we WILL be accepting the TOEFL ITP Plus exam for students in mainland China.

If you have any questions regarding the application process for this program, please email [email protected].

Application Deadline: Applications to this program are closed for Fall 2021 entry and will reopen in late summer 2021. Brown undergraduates may apply as a Fifth-Year Master’s student through May 1, 2021.

A.M. Completion Requirements

Introduction to Public Humanities, Methods in Public Humanities, two practicums, 9 other courses mutually determined by student and graduate advisor, visit the Center's website for detail.

Financial Aid

Public humanities master's students are eligible for partial financial aid. In recent years, admitted students requesting program aid have been awarded a tuition scholarship equal to 40% the total cost of tuition. In addition, the public humanities program provides other support for student activities. Each year students are awarded $500 for travel to conferences and to support research and other educational activities. For students looking for jobs during the academic year, the public humanities program also makes available a variety of public humanities–related employment opportunities both at the John Nicholas Brown Center, the home of the program, and at local institutions. These positions pay an hourly salary and work hours can be scheduled to complement students' schedules. Some funding is also available to help students finance their summer practicum experience. Funding opportunities are available elsewhere at the University, including occasional masters teaching assistantships available for M.A. students.

John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage
Brown University
Box 1880
[email protected]

Visit the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage


Director: Dietrich Neumann

Director of Graduate Studies: Dietrich Neumann