- In fall 2017, LLE, English, and history had the largest estimated number of departments at four-year colleges and universities (1,221, 1,062, and 921 respectively), just as they did in 2007, the first year for which the HDS was conducted (Figure 1A). Two disciplines added for HDS 2—communication and philosophy—were the only other humanities disciplines with more than 750 departments. Among the disciplines introduced with HDS 3, anthropology had 427 departments, race/ethnic studies and women/gender studies had somewhat less than 300 departments (272 and 283), and American studies had 165 departments.
- The HDS focuses on departments at four-year institutions that grant bachelor’s, master’s, and/or doctoral degrees. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, in four of the six largest humanities disciplines, the number of colleges and universities granting degrees declined from 2012 to 2017 (i.e., the years examined by HDS 2 and HDS 3; Figure 1B). The largest decrease, 6.2%, was in the number of institutions granting LLE degrees. The number granting degrees in religion fell 3.2%. Conversely, the number of institutions granting degrees in communication increased 5.1% over the period, and the number granting English degrees increased 0.5%. Looking back further, however, the number of institutions granting degrees in every discipline grew at least 5% from 1999 to 2017, with a 58% increase for communication.
- In the disciplines with a larger number of departments (such as communication, English, history, LLE, and philosophy), the HDS estimates that more than half of departments did not grant graduate degrees (as indicated in Figure 1A). In many of the smaller humanities disciplines, however (especially folklore, history of science, linguistics, and musicology), almost all the departments granted graduate degrees—and tended to be at research universities. Among departments granting only bachelor’s degrees, many offered at least a few graduate-level courses for credit. These facts are important to bear in mind when assessing the differences among departments on such measures as the average number of graduate students.
* For disciplines that were included in previous rounds of the survey, the pictured values represent the departments granting degrees in the year indicated that were still granting degrees in 2017. It does not include any departments that began granting degrees between the two time points.
** A combined department is one that grants degrees in English and in languages and literatures other than English (LLE).
For the values underlying this figure: See Tables 1a and 1b in the Appendix, Part A, and the fourth table in each subsection of Part B (e.g., Table AH4, Table EN4).
* The count for each year includes institutions that granted at least three degrees in the three-year period including that year and the previous two.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Data System; accessed via the National Science Foundation’s online integrated science and engineering resources data system, NCSES Table Tool (online at https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/ids/).