UArts PhD students Lecture with Simon King

PhD in Creativity

The nation's first PhD in Creativity

The PhD in Creativity is a radical reconception of the PhD degree, based on the premise that creative thinking lies at the heart of innovation in all fields. This degree, the first of its kind, offers opportunities to its students that no other PhD does:

  • A dissertation-only curriculum, allowing students to complete the program in just three years
  • Cross-disciplinary creativity immersion sessions and workshops
  • Professionally accomplished, carefully tailored advisory committees, sourced from all over the world

Student Testimonials

• “This program is the answer for people like myself, who exist in two professional disciplines and who want to engage in doctoral research work that merges the two. With ample support, guidance, and most of all, freedom, the PhD in Creativity enriches and challenges me to openly explore areas of study that expand both my fine art and nurse anesthesia interests. Moreover, the program is designed for incredibly busy professionals to be successful in maintaining their careers and conducting doctoral research simultaneously.” – Rose Benson, Senior Nurse Anesthetist at Temple University Hospital

• “Thanks to the PhD in Creativity, my work is changing in three major ways. One, the intuitive methodologies I’ve learned through the program’s immersion sessions have taught me to combine, rethink, and recast the links between my research materials. My tools for telling the story of my research are far more varied and give a much more complete picture than a traditional PhD program would allow. Two, the ability to assemble my own dissertation committee means that I can continue to be pushed and supported as I research and write my book. And three, the knowledge and vision of our faculty; of the professionals who lead the immersion sessions; and of my cohort, united by methodology across very different fields, remain sources of inspiration, encouragement, and resource. These three components are guiding not only my dissertation project, but also the ways I am thinking and writing as a wine journalist.” – Susan Gordon, Wine Critic at Forbes

• “Having worked in different creative fields throughout my career, it was important for me to have an interdisciplinary approach and not be restricted to one sub-specialty. In this program, I have found a home that encourages the intersection of different types and forms of thinking. If I am to study creativity, I want the pedagogical approach to be innately creative too. Being part of this program feels as fresh and exciting as those early days of the Bauhaus must have. The variety, the rigor and the approach to learning are a constant source of inspiration to my work. Since starting, the immersion weeks have fueled my imagination. I have three advisors from three different disciplines who challenge and stretch my thinking, and I have been invited to speak at universities around the world about my research. I even gave a TEDx talk. And this is only the first year! I feel creatively alive again.” – Eugene Hughes, London psychoanalytic psychotherapist, Founder at ArtGym

• “The empirical work I’ve done so far has taken me out of my comfort zone as a researcher, and I have discovered that I can do it! I am truly loving this program – the freedom and flexibility to pursue a passion and curiosity, with guidance and growth and learning all along the way, is a special gift I cherish.” – Patricia Salkin, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Touro College

Profiles of our PhD Candidates

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Rose Benson

Rose Benson, a senior nurse anesthetist and an Army nurse who served in Afghanistan, is examining the role of narrative art as an intervention tool for female trauma victims in North Philadelphia.

Susannah Eig-Gonzalez

Susannah Eig-Gonzalez, a theater director, producer and actor, is researching the ways in which American society successfully uses Shakespeare as a method to teach empathy, self-awareness and rehabilitation. 

Susan Gordon

Susan Gordon, a wine writer for Forbes, is examining the relationship between linguistics, history, and place in Italy’s Prosecco DOCG regions.

Eugene Hughes

Eugene Hughes, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, is studying how creative encounters with nature informs the psychology of the self.

Jessica Hunter-Larsen

Jessica Hunter-Larsen, the Associate Director of Innovation at Colorado College, is developing a pedagogy based on creativity to augment college students’ abilities to handle complex challenges.

Frank Machos

Frank Machos, the Executive Director for the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of the Arts and Creative Learning, is re-thinking and striving to rework the public-school K-12 curriculum, to weave creative thinking into student growth and achievement throughout.

Patricia Salkin

Patricia Salkin, Provost of the Graduate and Professional Divisions of Touro College in New York City, is examining the surge of university presidents who possess law degrees, with an eye to what this trend could portend for the future of higher education. 

Abel Tilahun

Abel Tilahun, an Ethiopian filmmaker and visual artist, is filming a documentary on the mutual influence of art and space science, with a focus on the Ethiopian space industry.

Cindy Veloric

Cindy Veloric, an environmentalist and art historian and a researcher at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is analyzing the ways in which visual art can be turned to drive public opinion on the climate crisis.

A Sampling of Our PhD Students’ Achievements Since Joining the Program


Patricia Salkin has published articles from her dissertation work in the Washington Post, publications from the American Bar Association, Bloomberg Law, The Urban Lawyer, and elsewhere. She also served as the keynote speaker at the 42nd National Conference on Law and Higher Education, and has been interviewed on multiple podcasts, including the CAP Impact Podcast by the Capital Center for Law & Policy – all speaking on subjects derived from her thesis work. 

Jessica Hunter-Larsen’s dissertation work has been featured in The Creativity Challenge, a special issue from the Chronicle on Higher Education. Hunter-Larsen’s work implementing creative methods in the curriculum at Colorado College was profiled alongside projects at Stanford University, Olin College of Engineering, Lehigh University, and James Madison University. She was also a presenter and panelist at the 2020 Critical and Creative Thinking Conference.

A hybrid interview-essay by Susannah Eig-Gonzalez, examining her dissertation questions alongside the Director of Education at the American Shakespeare Center, was featured by the Shakespeare Association of America. 

Abel Tilahun’s exhibition “Inner and Outer Space: Lalibela on the Moon,” was celebrated in Lalibela, Ethiopia as part of an event for the Ethiopian Space Science Society. The exhibition celebrated the Annular Eclipse and was attended by major Ethiopian officials. 

Susan Gordon published a long-form essay in Gastronomica, following her search for language to encompass the way taste is tied to sight in Italy.

Cindy Veloric has published two pieces in Ocean Archive, an enterprise of the Thyssen Bornemisza Academy in Vienna, exploring the oeuvres of artists who engage with environmental issues, such as the world’s dying coral reefs. She has also presented at PAFA  and the 2021 Art History Graduate Student Association Conference.  She will chair a session at CAA 2021: “From wheatfields to ecosophy: A consideration of women artists in the history of climate change.”