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: www.aspect.vt.edu) 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.
Each university in the Unites States of America sets its own admission standards so there isn't the same criteria for all the students and the university can decide which applicants meet those standards. The fee for each application is between $35 to $100.
After the selections of the universities you want to attend, the best of all would be to contact each university for an application form and more admission information for the international students. Moreover, for a graduate or postgraduate program it's necessary to verify the admission requirements. Some programs require that you send your application directly to their department.
Admissions decisions are based on students's academic record and different test scores, such as TOEFL, the SAT or ACT (for undergraduate programs) and GRE or GMAT (for graduate programs). Admission decision is based on your academic results and motivation.