What are the Digital Humanities?

Like other humanists, digital humanists study human culture and the human record. The digital humanities add computational and digital methods as supplements to established modes of inquiry and critique in humanities disciplines, thereby generating new understandings of the materials in our various subject domains.

At UVA, digital humanities projects have included explorations of authors’ works (Rosetti Archive and Yoknapatawpha), broad historical phenomena (The Valley of the Shadow and Salem Witch Trials), literary trends, scholarly editions, publication histories, a database of metaphors, digital reconstructions of historic architecture (Jefferson’s University, English Medieval Architecture, and The Crystal Palace), representations of architectural transformation, motion capture of community dances, geospatial projects charting empire and travel, art historical archives, and a linguistic archive for an endangered language.

Why Study DH at UVA?

As a global leader in the digital humanities through the years, UVA's extensive resources have enabled DH graduate students to pursue stimulating careers in many fields. Since the inception of DH here in the 1990s, our network of DH alums has reached into many universities, diverse professional fields, and across geographical boundaries. Our unique curriculum encourages DH Certificate students in humanities and related departments to unite humanist approaches with insight into the technical workings of our digital age. 

  • Professional Success: Find a path to career success, whether you are aiming for a position in academia, GLAM fields, the public sector, or industry.
  • Experience: Find a role as an intern, research assistant, or Praxis Fellow, and gain important experience on DH projects and public humanities projects.  
  • Resources: Take advantage of UVA’s extensive, internationally recognized network of DH experts and infrastructure. Our program is hosted by the School of Data Science, supported by DH centers in the UVA Library, and enhanced by collaborations with DH-adjacent organizations around the University.
  • Flexibility: Combine the DH Certificate with any graduate degree at UVA and customize a plan of study that matches your professional and intellectual goals.
  • Community: Our students attend speaker events, workshops, and DH Mixers, making intellectual connections with a broad range of DH practitioners. Social events encourage students to share digital skills and experiences. 

DH methods crosscut departments and generate multidisciplinary conversations. At UVA, data scientists and computer scientists are involved in DH work, in addition to practitioners from the more stereotypically humanist areas such as languages and literature, history and art history, and religious studies. Here is a partial list of departments and programs where researchers and instructors have found DH methods useful:

  • African American and African Studies 
  • American Studies 
  • Anthropology 
  • Archaeology 
  • Art History 
  • Architectural History 
  • Built Environment  
  • Classics 
  • Computer Science 
  • Creative Writing 
  • Data Science 
  • Drama 
  • English 
  • East Asian Languages, Literatures & Cultures 
  • French 
  • Germanic Languages & Literatures 
  • History 
  • Landscape Architecture 
  • Latin American Studies 
  • Linguistics 
  • Media Studies 
  • Mellon Indigenous Arts 
  • Music 
  • Philosophy 
  • Politics 
  • Religious Studies  
  • Slavic Languages & Literatures 
  • Sociology 
  • Spanish, Italian & Portuguese  
  • Urban and Environmental Planning

Certificate Requirements

DH Certificate requirements are flexibly designed so that students can complete their graduate degrees within their home department’s guidelines and time constraints. Four courses are required and may be taken at any time during students’ enrollment in graduate school at UVA. 

Two required courses:

  • DH 8991: History and Theory of the Digital Humanities (offered in the fall)
  • DS 7008: DH Practicum, Data Design and Methods for Humanists (offered in the spring)

Two electives chosen from the following three formats:

  • Official DH electives have a significant digital humanities component built into the syllabus. This could include DH readings, application of DH methods and tools, and/or the employment of critical modes of inquiry around topics of technology and society.  
  • Customized DH electives are courses taught by “DH-friendly” professors who will accept digital humanities work in lieu of a portion of their standard assignments. The student in question must propose to the instructor that they take a given course as a customized elective; I provide a template for an agreement between the student, the instructor, and myself in order to ensure that expectations for DH work are clear. If the instructor does not want to evaluate the more technical aspects of the student’s DH work, members of the DH Certificate Faculty Advisory Committee will take on that responsibility.  
  • An independent study in DH requires the student in question to create a full DH syllabus in collaboration with an instructor who is willing to work with them. This elective can be a good fit for a doctoral student who wishes to write a DH article or dissertation chapter; it can also work well for an MA or PhD student who wishes to explore a particular branch of the digital humanities in relation to work in their field.  

Only for students who joined the DH Certificate program before fall 2023: While you are encouraged to enroll in the new Practicum (DS 7800), the legacy Practicum (DH 8000) will be available to you every semester.  

Am I Eligible?

The program is open to any enrolled graduate student at UVA from any department and in any graduate school. 

  • Students in master’s and doctoral programs 
  • Students are encouraged to apply during their first semester of graduate school.
  • Students at a later stage in their studies may be considered for admission. 
  • Students who have been accepted into a graduate program at UVA may consult with the certificate advisor in advance of matriculation and may apply during the first month of their enrollment.  

The DH Certificate cohort is a lively cross-disciplinary community of about 30 students from over ten departments across the University, including language and literature departments, history, art and architectural history, religious studies, urban and environmental planning, and the constructed environment program. 

While it is best for students to apply in their first semester of graduate work, it is possible for students to apply in their second or even third years. 

What To Expect

  • Individualized Advising: Students receive pre-application course advising as well as annual meetings with a member of the DH Certificate Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC). Additional advising is available year-round from the program manager.
  • Dynamic Events: The program sponsors outside speakers, internal panels, technical workshops, social events, and an end-of-year celebration and certificate conferral ceremony.
  • Customized Classes: In addition to offering DH courses, the program supports students who wish to integrate DH approaches into coursework in their home departments. We also support DH-focused independent study courses.
  • Targeted Communication: The weekly DH Certificate email bulletin contains program updates and invitations to special events.
  • Career Development: In collaboration with the School of Data Science and other University resources, the DH Certificate offers career panels, opportunities for internships and research assistantships, and professional engagement with a cohort of like-minded students and scholars. 

How To Get Involved

Prospective Students:

  • Contact program manager Rennie Mapp to learn more and set up an intake advising session.
  • Attend a DH Certificate information session or other event.  
  • Take a DH course. 


  • Help your advisee integrate the DH Certificate with your department’s expectations.
  • Link to this page from your departmental recruitment website (contact Rennie Mapp). 
  • Use UVA’s DH syllabus collection as a reference to create your own DH course 
  • Showcase your DH project at a Data Design or DH Practicum event (contact Rennie Mapp). 

Librarian or Staff:

  • Visit one of our Data Design or Practicum events to showcase your work. 
  • Provide advising services for students taking our customized DH Electives. 
  • Provide a workshop on a technical topic. 

Alumni, Local Organizations or Companies, or General Public: 

  • Attend one of our DH Mixers, which are open to the public (registration required). 
  • Participate in a career development event.  
  • Sponsor a DH event and network with our students and faculty. 
  • Sponsor a DH student’s technical studies in a bootcamp or online course. 

For more information, or to set up an appointment, please contact Rennie Mapp, Digitial Humanities Certificate program manager.