Digital Humanities

Please note that the MALS program will no longer be admitting students interested in this concentration. Prospectives students interested in this concentration can apply to the new Master's in Digital Humanities.


The digital humanities is an emerging field of scholarly endeavor that has come into prominence in recent years. Defined broadly as the application of digital technologies to humanities scholarship and teaching, the digital humanities involves a range of approaches that include algorithmic literary criticism, new models of “distant reading,” the use of network theory to examine historical events, the digital encoding and analysis of archival manuscripts, the incorporation of geospatial data into scholarly projects, the uses of social media and networked platforms to enhance classroom instruction, among others. The field, as a whole, explores the ways in which traditional scholarly activities are being reshaped by the new methodologies made possible through data-driven inquiry.

The two core courses in the DH concentration introduce students to broad trends in DH scholarship and give them practical experience in using DH methods and tools. This mix of theoretically informed analysis with hands-on practice reflects the popular sentiment that DH is, at least in part, about building. After taking the two core courses in the concentration and the introductory MALS course, students will be able to pursue deeper knowledge in a particular humanities discipline. In their thesis/capstone projects, students will take advantage of this mix of specialized discipline-specific knowledge and research methodologies to create projects that will be of value to the larger digital humanities community.

The MALS concentration in digital humanities builds upon already-existing digital humanities projects at The Graduate Center, including the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative, the CUNY Academic Commons, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, the New Media Lab, and the American Social History Project. By allowing MALS students to explore both digital humanities methodologies and to apply those methodologies to a humanities field of their choosing, the concentration enables graduates to apply for a broad range of jobs upon graduation.

Degree Requirements

MALS students take four classes within the program — Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies, two core courses in their chosen concentration, and the thesis/capstone project — and choose their remaining electives from among courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.

This master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies] (3 credits).
  • Two required core courses to introduce students to Digital Humanities [MALS 75400 and MALS 75500].
  • 18 credits from courses of the student's choice that are relevant to the student’s concentration or studies
  • A master's thesis [MALS 79000].


Core Courses

MALS 75400 Introduction to the Digital Humanities
The dramatic growth of the Digital Humanities (DH) over the past half dozen years has helped scholars re-imagine the very nature and forms of academic research across a range of scholarly disciplines, encompassing the arts, the interpretive social sciences as well as traditional humanities subject areas. This initial core course will explore the history of the digital humanities, focusing especially on diverse pioneering projects and core texts that ground this innovative methodological and conceptual approach to scholarly inquiry and teaching. It will also emphasize ongoing debates in the digital humanities, such as the problem of defining the digital humanities, controversies over new models of peer review for digital scholarship, issues related to collaborative labor on digital projects, and the problematic questions surrounding research involving “big data.” The course will also emphasize the ways in which DH has helped transform the nature of academic teaching and pedagogy in the contemporary university with its emphasis on collaborative, student-centered and digital learning environments and approaches. The course will also take up broad social, legal and ethical questions and concerns surrounding digital media and contemporary culture, including privacy, intellectual property, and open/public access to knowledge and scholarship. Students completing the course will gain broad understanding of the emerging role of the digital humanities across several academic disciplines and will begin to learn some of the fundamental skills used often in digital humanities projects. 

MALS 75500 Digital Humanities Methods and Practices
The second course is praxis-oriented: students will develop and launch functional versions of projects first imagined as part of Introduction to DH. Students will gain hands-on experience in the collaborative planning, production, and dissemination of a digital humanities project and will develop a variety of technical, project management, and rhetorical skills. A goal is to produce projects that will have a trajectory and a timeline of their own that extend beyond the end of the semester. Students will be supported by a range of advisors matched to the needs of the individual projects, and successful completion of the class will require a rigorous commitment to meeting target delivery dates.

The class will hold a public launch event at the end of the semester where students will present their proofs-of-concept, and receive feedback from the broader community. 

Elective Courses

Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.
For related coursework in Digital Humanities, students may look to offerings in the Certificate Program in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, the Master’s Program in Computational Linguistics, and the doctoral program in English


MALS faculty associated with this concentration:

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Liberal Studies Research Guide.
Students' contact for Digital Humanities research is reference librarian Steven Zweibel