Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Material Culture and Public Humanities
203 Draper Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Contact this Certificate
Email Contact(s):
Phone Number(s):
Aaron Ansell:
Michelle Moseley:

Graduate Certificate in Material Culture and Public Humanities

This is a cross-disciplinary graduate certificate that provides opportunities for students in other graduate programs to take advantage of key courses in the MA program on Material Culture and Public Humanities.  Material culture is the study of material or physical objects, as well as the placement of those objects in critical, theoretical and historical perspectives as the products of distinct cultures. Public humanities bridges the divide between academia and the public by encouraging dialogue between scholars and communities on cultural and social issues.

Both the MA and the graduate certificate have two interrelated emphases (material culture and public humanities) that share common intellectual issues and employment goals. Courses in this graduate certificate program offer students the opportunity to interpret material culture (e.g., physical objects; historical artifacts) within informed historical / cultural frameworks and articulate their significance to the public.  The certificate enables graduate students in the target population of architecture, interior design, history, communication, rhetoric, sociology, STS, and ASPECT better to compete for jobs in museums, historical societies, and community and cultural organizations.

See the MCPH Website ( for further information.   

How to Apply:
Fill out the online application for participation in the certificate program.
Upon processing of the application, you will be contacted
with information about the submission of additional
required materials. Thank you for your interest.

Admission Requirements

  • Transcripts from your undergraduate institution. (The Graduate School will need your official transcripts eventually, but the MCPH Steering Committee can make initial admissions decisions based on unofficial transcripts.)
  • 3 letters of recommendation. At least two should be written by faculty at your undergraduate institution.
  • A personal statement (~750 words) outlining your preparation and goals
  • GRE Scores (optional)
  • Writing Sample (usually between10 and 20 pages)
  • Any other personal documents required by the Graduate School’s general application

Students seeking admission to the certificate program should consult with the Graduate Director or a member of the Steering Committee for the MA in Material Culture and Public Humanities.


Course Requirements

The certificate requires 9 credit hours, distributed as follows:


 ·      ART/HUM/RLCL 5204: Research Methods in Material Culture and Public Humanities (3H, 3C)

Topics cover steps for developing an installation, from analysis, archiving, to writing and interpretation for various audiences.

·      HUM/RLCL 5304: Material Culture and Humanities in the Public Sphere (3H, 3C)

Advanced seminar on material culture and humanities in the public sphere through an examination of humanistic approaches to civic spaces, applying critical turns to public debates.


One elective chosen from the following courses:

 ·      ART 5584: Topics in Material Culture  (3H, 3C)

Advanced seminar. Provides a comprehensive examination of various periods and subjects of material culture through rotating topics. Topics indicated by timetable. May be repeated for credit for a maximum of 9 credits. Graduate standing required.

·      HUM/RLCL 5584: Topics in Public Humanities (3H, 3C)

 Advanced seminar on topics in public humanities, ranging from an exploration of how various humanities disciplines relate to public issues and concerns, to a study of region, regionalism, and place in public humanities. May be repeated with different topic content for a maximum of 9 credits. Pre-requisite: Graduate Standing required. 

 ·      ITDS 5124: Preservation of Historic Interiors (3H, 3C)

Study of restoration and preservation practices, including economic, social, and legal aspects and an introduction to historical research methodology.

 ·      HIST 5424: Public History (3H, 3C)

Introduction to the theoretical, interpretive, controversial, and practical issues facing public historians. Focus on interpretations and specific issues surrounding the presentation of history in museum inhibits, documentary films, photographic collections, community history projects, the Internet, and a variety of other public venues.