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Guidelines: DH Practicum & Portfolio

Architecture professor presenting to graduate students at a DH project scoping panel
By Christian Howard, with Alison Booth and Rennie Mapp

What is involved in the Practicum Course for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities?

The Practicum Course has three aspects: 60 hours of hands-on DH work; attendance at DH@UVA colloquia, public lectures, forums, and other events; and a portfolio. Students must enroll in this S/U course, and approval of the portolio and dossier is needed for Satisfactory completion of this course, which does not have scheduled class meetings.

When is the Practicum Course offered, and when should I take it?

The Practicum Course will be offered every fall and spring semester. Students generally should enroll in the Practicum Course during their last semester at UVA. Note that the course does not meet as such, and that the 60 hours of hands-on work may be completed at other times rather than entirely during the semester in which the student is enrolled.

What counts toward the 60 hours of hands-on DH work?

Hands-on DH work may include coding (or learning to code, e.g. in a short non-credit course on Python at a DH institute); digital categorization or archiving of source materials; data collection, analysis, and visualization, whether of small or extensive sets of data; text editing, annotation, or “mining” for quantifiable data; and spatial technologies such as photogrammetry, VR, 3D printing, or mapping. This is not an exhaustive list, and the student is encouraged to use a wide variety of tools and approaches. It should, however, be noted that hands-on work is time that the student spent actively contributing to a projec or learning technical practices. Thus, some events or meetings related to DH count as colloquium participation but not Practicum because hands-on skills are not engaged. Similarly, reading and theorizing about what constitutes DH work does not count toward this requirement. 

Hands-on DH work may be undertaken as part of a Research Assistantship (RA assignment) and/or may include projects for which the student received a fellowship or other source of funding (such as the Praxis Program or DH Fellowships through the UVA Scholars’ Lab).

Important Exceptions: Please note that projects completed as part of a DH course do not count toward the 60 practicum hours.

Where can I find a list of upcoming DH events and lectures at UVA that count toward the Practicum requirement?

All upcoming DH colloquia, lectures, forums, and other events are posted on the Event Calendar on the DH@UVA website. You can also find DH@UVA Colloquia events under the DH Certificate tab on the DH@UVA website. It is also wise to subscribe to the Scholars' Lab newsletter and consult their list of events and workshops.

How many DH colloquia, lectures, and other events do I need to attend to satisfy the Practicum Course?

There is no exact number of colloquia and other events that students must attend; however, it is suggested that students attend at least two DH-related events or lectures per semester once the student has applied for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities. These events may be held at other institutions or virtual. The best practice is to include notes about events in the final dossier as part of the portfolio.

What is the portfolio for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities?

The portfolio demonstrates the student’s involvement with DH work, and in particular, it stands as evidence that the student has completed the other two aspects of the Practicum course (i.e., 60 hours of hands-on DH work, and attendance at DH@UVA colloquia and other events). Think of this as a showcase of your DH work to prospective employersor colleagues. The portfolio consists of: I.) a public website or webpage, II.) a dossier documenting fulfillment of the Certficate requirements.

Students are also required to create a profile on the DH@UVA website ( as soon as he or she decides to enter the Certificate program. During the student’s last semester at the University, he or she should link his or her portfolio site to this profile. The profile and planning of the portfolio should be begun as soon as the student begins the Certificate.  For instance, reflections on DH events should not be recollected months after the fact.


    A. Introduction or Overview: Address potential readers, from Advisory Committee to future employers or colleagues. Introduce yourself and offer a brief narrative telling the story of your research interests and development as a person working with digital tools as well as other methods of your disciplines. You may write particular reflections on methods as part of

    B. Body of Portfolio: Exhibit all the DH projects that you’ve worked or collaborated on, including in course assignments (though as noted, the latter are not counted as Practicum hours). 

         1. Project Exhibits in Collaboration, for Practicum:

             a. An image and access in some form to the project (a link to the project website or GitHub page) and a brief description of the project and its significance.

             b. The student’s contribution to the project, and links to any blog posts you may have written about the project.

         2. Exhibits for Any Course Assignments, whether solo or collaborative, that relate to DH. Include a. and b. as stated for 1 in the Body of the Portfolio.

         3. Any relevant written work, for instance a researched seminar paper, that you wish to post rather than to publish with a journal (which would entail copyright). That said, you may decide that some of the projects you list should be simply described in words; these might include projects that you are not a leading collaborator for (it is not yours to “publish”), or preliminary plans for projects not yet prototyped.

II: DH Dossier

Documentation of the requirements fulfilled for the Certificate. Clearly guide the Advisory Committee members evaluating your portfolio as to how you completed the timeline you planned. It may be a clearly-linked page shared on the public portfolio site, but we assume that your general portfolio audience is less concerned with how you fulfilled the requirements for this certificate. This document should include:

  1. a statement certifying that he or she has completed all 60 practicum hours required for the Certificate;
  2. a breakdown of how many of the 60 practicum hours were spent on each project;
  3. list of courses taken: core, two electives
  4. evidence of the student’s contribution and involvement in the DH projects that count toward their practicum hours (we can consider a statement by a supervisor; images, examples of work done); [note that this can be a summary and refer to more substantial account (like a final report) shared in the public portfolio]
  5. brief descriptions and evidence of any other DH projects that the student completed through their coursework (NB: projects completed as part of a DH course do not count toward the 60 practicum hours but may be more fully represented in the public portfolio and summarized in the dossier)
  6. brief reflections on DH colloquia and other community events (including DH courses taught and DH conferences attended) in which the student participated during their graduate tenure at UVA; include dates, names of speakers if any, the topic or title, some response to the issues or methods
  7. any relevant reflective writing or scholarly work that you do not wish to present on the public website. For instance, you may have written a response paper for the core course that articulates your own views about an issue or method in digital humanities

The DH committee will evaluate this dossier in conjunction with the public portfolio to determine the student’s eligibility to graduate with a Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.

When should I start working on my portfolio?

Students should begin putting their portfolios together as soon as they decide to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities. During the final semester, or the semester in which the student enrolls in the Practicum course, the student submits a draft, usually a month before the November or April due dates for graduation--a thesis, like a final portfolio, will be due in time to contact the registrar that the student has earned the Certificate. It is never too early to seek consultation with Alison Booth, Rennie Mapp, your DH Certificate advisor, and/or a Library subject librarian or Scholars' Lab staff member on the scope and design of a portfolio.

What services can I use to create and host my public website?t

Probably the most favored option is to work with UVA Create to set up your own domain that can serve you wherever you go; as a member of UVA, your annual fee is $15. The University's arrangement with Reclaim Hosting includes access to software that helps you easily create a website or manage your data, including WordPress, MediaWiki, Drupal, Scalar, Omeka, and more.  Each platform has advantages and challenges.  Some technical support comes with your fee, and we are glad to help refer you for consultation.

There are a number of website creation and hosting options that also charge a fee, including Wix and SquareSpace, which are easy-to-use and frankly have less of the aura of specialist know-how.

 There are other free options for UVA students:

  • GitHub Pages - a personal website hosted directly from your GitHub repository. 
    • Benefits: Signing up for GitHub is free, and each user is able to host one website through his or her GitHub account. Many free templates and designs are available through the GitHub and Jekyll communities. You can create and link a custom URL to your GitHub page. This site is not administered by UVA, and users can continue to update and change their websites beyond their time at the university. GitHub is commonly used by advanced technology teams.
    • Drawbacks: Using GitHub requires basic knowledge of Git and HTML/CSS.
  • Digication ePortfolio - a web-based platform designed to support the creation and sharing of electronic portfolios by and among individuals as well as groups and in courses.
    • Benefits: Freely available to UVA students in the College of Arts & Sciences. Digication offers technical, design, and pedagogical support for students, and provides a number of ready-made templates that require no coding skills. 
    • Drawbacks: While users will be able to access and share their ePortfolios even after they graduate from UVA, updating and maintaining portfolios after a student's graduation will only be available to those who choose to purchase an individual ePortfolio account. 
    • The A&S Learning Design & Technology team will establish a Digication account for you. Contact the Digication Help Desk and inform them of your reason for creating a portfolio. 
  • WordPress - a personal website or blog featuring multiple, customizable themes. Many serviceable websites have been made using WordPress. It has been supported at UVA as a feature in Collab that is hosted by SHANTI; this will not be a permanent or highly supported platform. 

If you have questions about which platform would be best suited to your needs, please set up an appointment with Alison Booth, Rennie Mapp, or

Where can I find portfolio templates and examples?

Public Website Examples

  • Brandon Walsh, Head of Student Programs at the University of Virginia's Scholars' Lab
  • Amanda Visconti, Managing Director of the University of Virginia's Scholars' Lab
  • Annie Swafford, Digital Humanities Specialist at Tufts University

DH Dossier Examples