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PhD Program

The PhD program offers professional training in interdisciplinary study of American history, culture, and society. In addition to a broad understanding of American Studies as an academic field, students gain expertise in their chosen fields of specialization that prepares them for careers in academia, public humanities, and other related professions. The interdisciplinary nature of the program allows freedom and flexibility to tailor the course of study to students’ own interests and goals while also grounding them in the field of American Studies.

Most PhD students enter the program with an MA in American Studies or a related field such as anthropology, English, ethnic studies, history, media studies, or performance studies. Applicants with exceptional promise may be admitted straight into the PhD program without an MA.

The PhD program is in three main stages: coursework, Qualifying Exams, and dissertation. Through this training, students gain broad as well as specialized knowledge that enables them to teach a wide range of courses related to American society and culture; ability to design and execute original research projects; and writing skills to produce book-length work of publishable quality.

The two graduate certificate programs housed in the department, Historic Preservation and Museum Studies, are designed so that students may concurrently pursue a PhD in American Studies and a graduate certificate in one or both of these fields.


PhD Curriculum Map

Courses & Research Requirements

Required courses  AMST 600, AMST 601, AMST 603 (9 credits)
Electives 4 or more AMST graduate seminars (12 credits)
5 or more AMST seminars or allied, including 400-level classes (15 credits)
AMST 650 (Up to 9 credits)
Total Credits 15 classes, 45 credits
Qualifying Exams One general and two specialized fields
Comprehensive Exam Dissertation proposal defense
Dissertation Book-length monograph based on original research that makes a substantive contribution to scholarship

Recommended Timeline

First Year
Fall AMST 600 & 2 AMST or electives (9 credits)
Spring AMST 601 & 2 AMST or electives (9 credits)
Second Year
Fall AMST 603 & 2 AMST or electives (9 credits)
Spring 3 AMST courses or electives (9 credits)
Third Year
Fall AMST 650 (Exam Prep) and electives as needed
(6 credits)
Spring AMST 650 (Exam Prep) or other elective as needed
(3 credits)
Qualifying & Comprehensive Exams
Fourth Year
Fall AMST 800/Dissertation research (1 credit); or
AMST 699 (students still preparing for comprehensive exam)
Spring AMST 800/Dissertation research (1 credit)
Fifth Year
Fall AMST 800/Dissertation research and writing (1 credit)
Spring AMST 800/Dissertation completion (1 credit)

Note: Occasionally, a student may not be able to write the dissertation until the sixth year. In any event, however, students must endeavor to complete the degree within the university’s seven year time limit.

*Note that this represents an ideal dissertation completion timeline. In many cases, teaching assignments and research challenges can extend the dissertation writing stage into the sixth year.