Designated Emphases

Graduate students may earn distinction by participating in a Designated Emphasis curriculum.

A Designated Emphasis (DE) is a means of acknowledging distinction and expertise in a specific field. A DE is a specialization that might include a new method of inquiry or an important field of application that is related to two or more existing Ph.D. programs.

The curriculum of the designated emphasis is offered by a faculty organized in the manner of a graduate group. The Designated Emphasis is awarded in conjunction with the Ph.D. degree and is signified by a transcript designation — for example, "Ph.D. in Sociology with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory." Students must apply for a Designated Emphasis (DE) prior to completing their doctoral qualifying examinations.

For further information, visit the Graduate Studies' Designated Emphasis page and then contact the faculty chair or staff person in the DE in which you are interested. 

Designated Emphases

African American and African Studies

The designated emphasis in African American and African Studies (DEAAAS) gives doctoral students in Sociology and other Ph.D. programs training in African American or African Studies. This D.E. serves students who identify African American and/or African Studies subject matter as the focus of their proposed dissertations. This emphasis increases their understanding of the breadth of past and present research in African American and African Studies.

Graduate students who have completed the DEAAAS will be more competitive candidates for positions in academic units of their primary disciplines as well as in African American and/or African Studies academic units.

Computational Social Science

Computational Social Science is about developing and applying computational tools to deepen our understanding of long–standing questions in the social sciences, as well as exploring new ones. As suggested by the term itself, the approach is per definition interdisciplinary in terms of requiring foundations in computational methods and social science theory, and it is multidisciplinary in terms of blurring the traditional boundaries between disciplines in the social sciences. Some 30 faculty members from 10 Departments of UC Davis are part of the DE.

Critical Theory

The Critical Theory Program hosts interdisciplinary seminars focusing on the rich tradition of ancient and modern critical thought. The D.E. in Critical Theory enables doctoral students to add a formal credential in critical theory to their degrees.

The Critical Theory program amalgamates faculty from various affiliated programs in the humanities and social sciences. They collectively offer a wide range of expertise across multiple historical periods and theoretical approaches. Critical Theory seminars bring together students and faculty from across this broad disciplinary spectrum, providing a rare opportunity to compare perspectives, and to interrogate the fundamental axioms and principles of social, political and cultural practice.

Feminist Theory and Research

The Feminist Theory and Research D.E., administered by the Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program, examines the complex ways in which gender has shaped language, identities, traditions of knowledge, methodologies, social relations, organizations, economic systems, and every facet of culture. In making gender a central category of analysis, feminist scholarship explores: the relationship between language and institutions; the nature of social power and historical agency; heteronormativity; the relationship between gender and nation; alternative sexualities; gender and representation; and other topics of inquiry.

Feminist scholars have established some of the groundwork for various interdisciplinary formations, including the new ethnography, new historicism, and cultural studies. Students with the D.E. credential demonstrate qualifications that are attractive to employers inside and outside of the academy.

Human Rights

The DE in Human Rights provides graduate students in affiliated programs the opportunity to supplement their Ph.D. with a specialization in the academic study of Human Rights. The mission of the DE is to promote and build capacity in the academic study of Human Rights and the training of graduate students in the field of Human Rights in the Ph.D. programs throughout the campus.

Science and Technology Studies

The designated emphasis in Science and Technology Studies (STS) examines the complexity of the practices of science in laboratories; the pervasive interactions of cultures, societies, governments, social movements, industries, environments and legal regimes with innovations in science and technology; and the increasing demand to study these interactions in an integrated manner. Doctoral students in the STS D.E. engage in a sustained analysis of the practices of scientists and engineers and the ways in which development and production of facts and technologies within the domain of science are fundamentally social phenomena.

Participants explore the inseparability of these social aspects of scientific practice from the influence of science and technology in the broader cultural and political landscape. Students in this designated emphasis benefit from the thriving community of STS scholars on campus, regular STS speaker series, and a range of STS events, including the annual Summer Retreat, which draws faculty and grad participants from across the 10 UC campuses.

Study of Religion

The DE in the Study of Religion provides graduate students with an interdisciplinary understanding of how religion in general has been conceptualized and studied historically and how these understandings continue to inform basic categories of thought, behavior and identity across the world and especially in the West. Rather than approaching religion as a fixed entity that informs change in other more dynamic fields (e.g. literature, culture, society, behavior), this program helps students think about the study of religion as historically variable, contextualized, and itself constitutive of the subject of inquiry.