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Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia

UVA's Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities

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Graduate CertificateRequirementsNotes

Why study DH at Virginia? 

Graduate students have been important members of the digital humanities community at the University of Virginia since the field’s inception in the 1990s.  In the Scholars’ Lab, IATH, and SHANTI, students have made significant intellectual contributions and gone on to notable permanent positions related to the digital humanities. This history forms the foundation for a certificate program that provides students with curricular structure, advising, and committee oversight.

UVa's certificate prepares students to compete in a broad array of sophisticated, rewarding fields, including further graduate study, postdocs, tenure-track faculty positions, and “alt-ac” and library positions, as well as work in the tech sector, in publishing, and in media more generally. As a global leader in the digital humanities, UVA's resources enable students to approach humanities research with innovative technical approaches, including text mining, geospatial analytics, virtual and augmented reality, sound analysis, informatics, and structured data.  Perhaps as importantly, it enables graduate students in humanities and related departments to unite humanistic approaches with insight into the practical workings of the digital age. 

More about the graduate certificate in digital humanities

Certificate requirements are designed to be as flexible as possible so that you can complete your graduate degree on time. We recommend that you enroll in the certificate program as soon as you know that you want to pursue DH research, although it is also possible to enroll if you are mid-way through your graduate studies. In many cases, the existing coursework, workshops, RA-ships, and dissertation work of upper level graduate students already situate them as good candidates for the certificate.

The certificate requires 12 credit hours including one core course, a practicum, and choose two electives. The two electives may be completed in one of the following formats:

  • A course from the list of pre-designated DH courses.
  • Take a course that is not a designated DH elective, but complete an assignment using digital methods. In this case, you will request approval from your professor and the DH Certificate Administrative Director, Rennie Mapp, using an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) form. You can also complete a digital project as an Independent Study elective.
  • An independent study (often a dissertation chapter) with a significant DH component.

For ideas on how to approach your assignments from a DH perspective, you can start with your department’s DH research guide. The certificate will be added to your transcript upon completion of the program.  

To get started with an independent DH project, visit our 'Jumpstart your DH project' page [link]

DH certificate requirements


One core course (three credits)

History and theory of digital humanities. A new DH mnemonic will be created for this course.  It will be offered by John Unsworth in Spring 2019 for the first time. 

Two electives (three credits each)

Because UVA's DH certificate encourages students to enhance their scholarship using digital approaches, two departmental electives with a significant DH component are required. These courses may be in any field as long as they conform with the student's home-department requirements.  

Any combination of the following options may be used:

  • ​Option A: Designated DH Elective   A course in the student’s home department or an outside department designated in advance by the DH committee as qualifying for the DH certificate. (See link our list of approved DH courses)

  • Option B: DH Project within a Non-DH Course   A course within the student's home department or another department that does not have the DH certificate designation but for which the student completes a DH assignment. Approval of the instructor and the DH administrative director is required.  A memorandum of understanding between instructor and student is required (see our sample MoU linked here)

  • Option C: Independent Study   An independent study with an instructor of record who agrees to oversee a DH project either in the student's home department or outside, with the permission of the student’s director of graduate studies and the DH administrative director.  This independent study can be structured around a DH-focused dissertation chapter.

One practicum course (three credits) 

The DH practicum will focus more specifically on the hands-on work—often but not necessarily technical—that is usually involved in DH projects. Each practicum will have a faculty supervisor of record and a new DH mnemonic will be created for this course. The practicum course includes attendance at the DH colloquium, 60 hours of hands-on work in DH, and a portfolio.

Two important notes for doctoral students

Regarding post-comprehensive coursework

For students in Arts and Sciences, it is possible to enroll in coursework to satisfy the DH certificate requirements after you have completed departmental coursework and comprehensive exams.  For example, students will usually need to enroll in the Practicum during their final semester of graduate work.  Post-comprehensive coursework does not impose any financial burden to a student or that student's department.  

For students in other schools such as Architecture, Curry, and Nursing, it will be important to clear all post-comprehensive coursework with individual advisors and directors of graduate study well in advance.  For more information, please contact Rennie Mapp at

Regarding coursework or practicum experience done before fall 2018

Most PhD students with significant DH interest will find that the certificate fits their course of study, even if they are in the later years of their doctoral program.  They are often surprised to learn that their coursework, workshops, RA-ships, and dissertation work have already situated them as good candidates for the certificate.  Students and advisors any questions should contact Rennie Mapp at as soon as possible to discuss how the certificate might work for them.

  • The practicum course may include (but is not limited to) a research assistantship on a faculty DH project, participation in fellowships from Scholars' Lab, an independent study with an instructor of record, or participation in a DH summer institution such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute or the Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching workshop.

  • The 60 hours of practical work for the practicum course must be approved by the student's departmental advisor and the DH certificate administrator, who will consult regularly with the DH committee. While the core course and electives are expected to involve a significant intellectual contribution from the student, practicum work will focus more specifically on the hands-on work—often but not necessarily technical—that is usually involved in DH projects. Each practicum will have a faculty supervisor of record. The portfolio will document students' DH work done throughout their time at the university and will require a reflective portion and a presentation.