Program of Study

student draws a timeline on a whiteboard

The American Studies master of arts degree is a two-year interdisciplinary program that requires 30 credit hours of coursework. All students take 15 credit hours of requirements: American Experience to 1865, American Studies Colloquium I and II, and 2 special topics seminars.

American Experience to 1865 surveys early American cultural history and introduces students to some of the prevalent texts, scholars, and ideas in the field of American Studies. The American Studies Colloquium, a sustained study that takes place over the course of two semesters, gives students the opportunity to develop a publishable paper on a topic of their choosing. In the course of this project, students do independent research, undergo peer review, and revise various drafts to produce a polished final paper. No matter what the subject, the special topics seminars provide students with important foundational knowledge in the field of American Studies and work to enhance critical thinking skills.

In addition to the required courses, students can select from a range of elective courses. Although the American Studies Department offers an array of courses each semester, students may choose to take up to nine hours outside of the department.

At the end of the program, students take comprehensive exams, which test their knowledge of the material that they encountered in their particular program of study. Many students find that comprehensive exams provide an exceptional way to review the subjects that they have learned in the program, and these exams also provide students who want to pursue a PhD with valuable experience doing this kind of exercise.