Social Political Ethical and Cultural Thought

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 7.27 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 13.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Feb 1, 2024
201–250 place StudyQA ranking:1476 Duration: You need IELTS certificate

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The Ph.D. in Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) prepares graduate students to undertake theory-based, problem-centered, and interdisciplinary analysis informed by social, political, ethical and cultural thought. ASPECT is designed to interest those seeking a program of study with a framework wider than that of a specialized traditional disciplinary department. The program is unique in offering a curriculum that fosters research and teaching that communicates theory across the limits that frequently divide between units in the social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. The program promises to place in tandem bodies of thought and their research applications that have frequently cast divisions along fault line of political theory vs. cultural studies, social theory vs. ethical thought, etc. It is the modest ambition of the ASPECT curriculum, by contrast, to foster a research and teaching program that enables Ph.D. students to pursue appropriate course work and research commensurate with the complexities of the issues they aim to investigate.
The curriculum stresses flexibility and originality. It permits a focus on overarching questions by offering training in areas of concentration as well as education in interdisciplinary ways of knowing. Each area of concentration, in turn, is composed of a cluster of multidisciplinary offerings. Students will be prepared to teach introductory and required courses in particular disciplines through their graduate teaching assistantships. However, their Ph.D research will address questions that span a number of different approaches and fields in a truly interdisciplinary manner. 
The ASPECT Ph.D. curriculum is supported both by some seventy faculty affiliates (see: with tenure homes in twelve campus departments and three colleges:  the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, the College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, including the four core departments of History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion and Culture. 

The ASPECT doctoral program at Virginia Tech is for students who have previously earned an M.A. or equivalent (e.g. JD, MBA, MS) before pursuing doctoral study. Under the assumption that students accepted into the ASPECT program with a Masters degree or equivalent either from Virginia Tech or elsewhere have received credit for 30 credit hours, they then will undertake a minimum of 60 semester hours of further study, leading to the defense of a Ph.D. The Ph.D. curriculum concentrates on interdisciplinary methodological and theoretical issues.  Therefore, ASPECT is where social, political, ethical, and cultural thought are put to work in understanding social and individual transformations in contemporary and historical contexts.

Course requirements for the Ph.D. can ordinarily be completed during two years of residency and entail successful completion of 42 credit hours, leading to the defense of a Ph.D. dissertation proposal and preliminary exams during the fourth semester. Thereafter, dissertation research will be undertaken under the supervision of a multidisciplinary advisory committee and remaining credits may be earned either by taking additional classroom courses or research and dissertation credits. 
Students pursuing the ASPECT Ph.D. select a major and a minor concentration chosen from among four areas: 1) social thought, 2) political thought, 3) ethical thought, and 4) cultural thought. Additional ASPECT courses requirements offer education in interdisciplinary theory, methodology, and professional development.
The ASPECT curriculum consists of four kinds of classroom courses: 1) All candidates will take 12 credit hours of core ASPT courses (ASPT 6004, ASPT 6104, ASPT 6204, and ASPT 6904); 2) 21 credit hours selected from ASPECT cross listed departmental offerings (six of the latter are brand new courses expressly designed to support program goals), 3) six credit hours in social science or humanistic research methods; and, 4) three credit hours in pedagogical practices (GRAD 5114). 
All students are required to identify a major and minor field (one each selected from the four concentration areas). The 21 credit hours mentioned in (2), are selected to fulfill the major and the minor areas of concentration, with 12 credit hours in the major and 9 credit hours in the minor area. No more than 9 credit hours can be taken in one department in fulfillment of the major area, no more than 6 from one department in the minor area.

  • Transcripts. Include a scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission.
  • Letters of Recommendation. Check to see whether your department requires letters of recommendation from references. If so, you can include their email addresses in your online application, or have them send paper copies directly to your program’s department.
  • Application Fees. Degree-seeking students must include a $75 fee with their application, though check to see if you qualify for a waiver or reduced fee.
  • TOEFL Paper 550.0, Computer 213.0, iBT 80.0
  • GRE
  • Minimum GPA: 3.5
  • Institution code: 5859


  • University Scholarships
  • Global Education
  • Assistantships
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