The program's foundational themes provide the background knowledge of theoretical and critical developments in humanities, philosophy, art and literature, history, and the social sciences. However, a student’s area of inquiry is not limited to these themes alone.

  • Students take approximately 6 - 9 course credit hours each year for two to four years culminating in a written comprehensive exam. Upon successfully completing the exam, students advance to the dissertation and defense stage.
  • Most three-credit courses are taught one evening during the week on the main SMU campus during fall or spring semesters. Specialized courses are also available over short summer terms. Students may enroll in up to nine hours of directed reading courses.
  • The foundational seminars for the DLS program provide training, analytical thinking and writing through critical examination, discussion, research, and progressive study on interdisciplinary topics. Each cohort attends all foundational seminars together to build a learning community and to introduce diverse experiences and academic pursuits into the classroom.
  • In the first two years of study, each student is required to enroll in the DLS foundational seminars in sequence. A sample schedule of foundational courses is provided below (subject to change based as needed):

Year I – Fall Semester
HUMN 7391 - To Be Human: Perspectives on Common Historical Experience
HUMN 7387 - Doctoral Research-Based Writing

Year I – Spring Semester
HUMN 7393 - To Be Human: The Art of Creativity and Expression
HUMN 7394 - To Be Human: East Meets West - Intelligence, History, Culture, and Society

Year 2 – Fall Semester
HUMN 7392 - To Be Human: The Transformation of the Psyche
Research Course Tracks*:
HUMN 7388 - Seminar in Critical Methods and Cultural Theory** (Humanities-Based)
HUMN 7386 - Social Science Research Design for Liberal Studies**
*Students pursuing social science research methods may take HUMN 7388 as one of their four electives to more deeply examine humanities-based theories in their research.  
**Equivalent course may be applied with the approval of the Department Chair. These courses may be offered on weeknights or weekends.

Year 2 – Spring Semester
HUMN 7395 - To Be Human: The Struggle for Human Rights
HUMN 7396 - To Be Human: Science and Society