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Graduate Certificate in the Digital Humanities

The Graduate Certificate in the Digital Humanities (GCDH) meets a growing need among the humanities for training in digital methods by leveraging existing resources at Stanford University. The GCDH program draws upon CESTA's community of expertise. Over the past several years, many dozens of graduate students have taken classes taught by CESTA affiliated faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and participated in workshops and seminars sponsored by CESTA. The GCDH offers a formal structure for this activity, and allows graduate students to acquire and deepen their technical and conceptual skills, as well as to strengthen their position in the competitive job market within and beyond the academy.

The GCDH seeks to strike a balance between the cultivation of technical skills and their practical application within project-based digital humanities research. The program is meant to be relatively lightweight in terms of specific requirements and flexible as to content and timing in order to best support the work students are doing in their home departments. Core classes and exposure to the CESTA research community will ensure that students leave the program with solid skills and the experience of learning in a cohort environment. Completion of the program will result in a certificate signed by CESTA's director and the director of the GCDH program.

How to Apply

Admission to the program is on a rolling basis, and students may apply at any time. Please submit a letter of interest and any supporting information to either the director of the certificate program, or to cesta_stanford [at] (subject: Graduate%20Certificate%20in%20Digital%20Humanities) (cesta_stanford[at]stanford[dot]edu).


There are three elements to the GCDH: two courses and one independent research project. The elements may be completed in any order, but it is recommended that you complete the core course first.

1. Students will be expected to complete one GCDH-approved graduate core course for a letter grade. Examples of previously approved core courses include:

  • HISTORY 401A: Spatial History: Concepts, Methods, Problems
  • ENGLISH 384E: Quantitative Models and Literary Form: Advanced Methods in Digital Humanities
  • ENGLISH 384B: Literary Modeling
  • CLASSICS 365: Digital Humanities Methods for Classics

Students who have completed any of the core courses, or equivalent courses taught by CESTA affiliates, in past years are eligible to move forward to the next step in the GCDH program.

2. Additional coursework (1 or more classes, may be taken pass/fail, must be approved by the GCDH director) in computer science, information design, statistics, network analysis, linguistics, or associated fields. The course should have a technical element.

3.a. An independent research project which will be evaluated and approved by a faculty advisor (see below) and accepted as an affiliated project in one of CESTA’s labs. The duration of such projects must be a minimum of 1 academic quarter. Students may take up to 5 units of credit as directed reading for the purpose of completing the independent research project.


3.b. Supervised collaborative research in a CESTA lab with the expectation that the student’s participation culminates in a DH product substantially authored by the student—2 quarters minimum duration.

Regardless of whether students select option 3.a. or 3.b., they will be expected to give a talk on their research as part of CESTA's weekly Seminar Series. If the work was collaborative, the presentation may be given jointly.


You may choose any Stanford faculty member as your GCDH advisor, but we recommend that you choose a CESTA-affiliated faculty member if there is one in your home department. The list of affiliated faculty can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply to the program?

The program is currently limited to students currently enrolled in a graduate program at Stanford.

How long is the program?


  • Typically two years, but may vary based on each student’s particular situation. The certificate must be completed prior to graduation from the student's degree-granting program.
I have no digital humanities experience at all. Should I apply if I am interested?

By all mean, yes. One of the main goals of the program is to provide digital humanities experience, knowledge, and tools to future graduates. Both core and elective courses are designed to both introduce students who have no prior experience with digital scholarship, as well as provide opportunities for students who have worked in the digital humanities with outlets for more advanced work.

Will I produce a final product?

Yes, but the format is flexible: it may be an article, a dissertation chapter, or another form of scholarly output. It may be a product of an independent research project or the product of a collaborative project in which your contribution is substantial and clearly defined. The plan for the final product must be determined with your GCDH faculty advisor and subject to the approval of the program's director.

Will anything show up on my transcript?

No, Stanford does not indicate certificates on transcripts. You will, however, receive a certificate of completion signed by both CESTA's director and the director of the certificate program. You will also be listed on the CESTA website as having completed the program.

How many courses will I have to take?

You must take one approved core course for a letter grade and one approved elective course, or two approved core courses. Electives must be approved in advance by the GCDH director and may be taken pass/fail.

Do the courses have to be taken in a particular order?

No. You may take either the elective or core course first and you may begin work on the required project at any point during your participation in the certificate program.

Can I apply courses that I have already taken toward the certificate?

Yes. You can submit courses that you have taken to the GCDH director for approval as either a core course or an elective course (which can be taken at any time).

Can I suggest a course for approval?

Yes. You may submit suggestions for both core and elective courses to the GCDH director for approval.

Who will be my advisor for the research project?

You may choose any Stanford faculty member as your GCDH advisor, but we recommend that you choose a CESTA-affiliated faculty member if there is one in your home department.

I have my own project that I want to pursue. How do I decide what CESTA lab my project will be affiliated with?

The GCDH director will be available to discuss your project with you once you have formulated your ideas, and will work with both you and the heads of the various labs to find the best fit for your project.

How will the project be evaluated?

Evaluation will be done in consultation with your advisor and be based upon your work on the project as well as the talk that you give on this research as part of the CESTA Seminar Series.

How will I present my project?

You will give a talk on your project as part of CESTA's weekly Seminar Series. If the work was collaborative, the presentation may be given jointly with your collaborators. It is recommended that you reach out to the GCDH director to schedule your talk at least one quarter in advance of the quarter in which you wish to present.