Designated Emphases

A Designated Emphasis (DE) is an area of specialization, such as a new method of inquiry, important field of application, or focus that maps near the edges, or overlaps with, the traditional disciplinary boundaries that define existing Ph.D. programs. The curriculum of a DE thus tends to focus on emerging fields or technologies that are interdisciplinary in nature and, by definition, are relevant to more than one doctoral program.

Completion of the requirements for both the DE and the affiliated Ph.D. program will result in the notation of the DE on the Doctoral Diploma: “Ph.D. in X with Emphasis in Y”. More information can be found at this link:


African American and African Studies

The Designated Emphasis in African American and African Studies will increase students' understanding of the breadth of past and present research in the subject areas of African American and African Studies. It will also provide the institutional means by which students and faculty already working on areas of inquiry touching upon African American and African Studies can be channeled or concentrated together for interaction and collaboration extending beyond their respective regional homes across the UC Davis campus.

Biology of Vector-borne Diseases

The academic focus of the Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-borne diseases is the scientific study of pathogens, the diseases they cause and the arthropod vectors that transmit the pathogens to humans and animals (domestic and wild). Students trained in this DE will be well poised to design, implement and evaluate methods and interventions to interrupt and control pathogens of human and veterinary importance.  This program is for PhD students only.

Computational Social Science

Computational social science provides scholars with the tools to deepen the understanding of long–standing questions in the social sciences, as well as explore new ones. As suggested by the term itself, the approach is per definition interdisciplinary and the DE in Computational Social Science is both interdisciplinary in terms of requiring foundations in computational methods, data analysis, and social science theory, and it is multidisciplinary in terms of blurring the traditional boundaries between disciplines in the social sciences. Across its diverse departments, UC Davis offers many of the required courses to become a leader in the exploitation of the current opportunities. This DE aims at creating synergies among the existing courses and research initiatives by bringing them together in a coherent way. It allows students with computational and mathematical skills to deepen their understanding of social science theory and to study unanswered social science research questions; and it allows students from the social sciences This DE provides new and complementary dimensions to existing graduate to improve their analytical skills in areas like big data analysis, computer simulations, network analysis and machine learning. We live in an economy where nine out of the ten most valuable companies in the world are built on business models that are driven by computational social science approaches, most of them headquartered not far from UC Davis. e programs, creates synergies and increases UC Davis’ visibility in a field of inquiry that has much more demand than supply of human resources. This increases the competitiveness of our students for employment and of our faculty projects for external funding.

Environmental Humanities

The Designated Emphasis in Environmental Humanities allows UC Davis graduate students from affiliated departments to concentrate their studies on questions related to the environment as a philosophical concept, a historical and cultural category, a venue for ethical and political struggle, the material context of social reproduction, and the terrain of all creative work. Using tools adapted from the humanities and humanistic social sciences, affiliated faculty lead graduate students in the study of the relationships between and among humans and animals, societies and ecosystems, global economies and the Earth system.