Course Requirements

The program is built upon research and intensive course work that will normally require four years of full-time work. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours post-baccalaureate, of which at least 18 must be dissertation credits.

All students are required to take AMST 501, Methods in American Studies, and AMST 502, Research and Writing in American Studies. Additional coursework will be selected from by students in conjunction with their committee chair and committee members.

For a list of dates and deadlines, please click here.

Major Field

All students must declare a major field of emphasis, by the third semester of study. The major field will normally require at least 12 credits of coursework. The major fields are:

  • American Arts
  • American History
  • American Literature
  • American Pluralism
  • Public History

Supporting Area

All students must declare a supporting area, which will normally be acquired through three courses (9 credits) and a four-hour written examination administered by the supporting area advisor. The supporting area will be a thematic field, for example, Native American Studies, Technology and Culture, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Graduate Committee

A student’s committee will consist of a chair and a minimum of three additional members. In addition, students and the committee can elect to add a graduate representative to their doctoral committee. The committee must be formed by the end of the third semester of attendance.

Mastery of Subject Matter

Mastery of the major field will be determined by:

  1. a record of excellence in all courses
  2. submission of a "syllabus requirement," in which the student designs and defends a detailed course syllabus in the major field, or submits another applied exercise, such as the design of a museum exhibit
  3. a four-hour written comprehensive examination on the major field
  4. a two-hour  written comprehensive examination on the supporting area
  5. a two-hour oral comprehensive examination, including a defense of the dissertation proposal
  6. submission of a dissertation that makes an original contribution to the major field of study
  7. defense of the dissertation in a public forum

Foreign Language Requirement

All students are required to demonstrate reading knowledge of at least one foreign language. Competency will be determined by an examination administered by the program, normally in conjunction with the Department of Modern Languages and Literature. The examination will be graded pass/fail. The foreign language requirement must be completed successfully before a student can present the dissertation proposal.


Two-thirds (2/3) of the course work required for the degree must be completed prior to taking the comprehensive examinations. All written examinations must be completed prior to enrolling in AMST 690 (Doctoral Thesis).

The maximum time allowed between the comprehensive examinations and the granting of the degree is five (5) years.

If a student fails an examination, at least six (6) months must elapse before the examination may be repeated. Failure to pass the examination a second time will result in dismissal from the program.