Prospective Students

Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel

The American Culture doctoral program is designed as a flexible, rigorous interdisciplinary graduate curriculum. Students develop a knowledge both of the field of American studies itself and of a range of defining and contributing disciplinary fields, including but not limited to African American studies, Asian/Pacific Islander American studies, Latina/o studies, Native American studies, Arab and Muslim American studies, sexuality studies, religious studies, film studies, museum and material culture studies. The perspective of the Department faculty and courses are balanced between the importance of attention to specific populations, periods, and disciplines, and the importance of an integrative, intercultural perspective. Similarly, scholars in the doctoral program learn both the basic conceptual and methodological tools and the intellectual history of the disciplines, and challenge the limits of those knowledge-producing tools while attending to social institutions and the politics of representation. The doctoral program endeavors to strike a balance between faculty guidance of students and a strong commitment to the new perspectives and originality of the students who represent the future of the field.

Our doctoral program is designed as a 5-year course of study. A brief overview of the AC graduate curriculum and progress to degree is as follows:

  • Required coursework is concentrated in the student’s first two years, but additional courses can be taken beyond the second year, too. Students are required to take two courses in their first year—AMCULT 697 and AMCULT 698. They are also required to take one interdisciplinary course and two cross-cultural courses during their first two years of coursework.
  • In the winter semester of their second year, students will complete a Progress Review of their coursework and take part in a Second-Year Advisory Meeting with at least three faculty members. Together, the Progress Review and Second-Year Advisory Meeting constitute the graduate curriculum’s two-step process which serves as an opportunity for students to finalize their Doctoral Field Examinations Committee and the three required reading lists.
  • At the end of the fall semester of their third year in the doctoral program, students take Doctoral Field Examinations after which they are advanced to candidacy.
  • In the winter term of the third year students write, publicly present, and defend their Dissertation Prospectus.
  • Finally, each student must pass a Dissertation Defense of the completed manuscript, ideally in the winter term of their fifth year.

Following the Prospectus Defense, students may be allowed to take more time (beyond the fifth year) to complete the dissertation, especially when the nature of their project requires them to take longer to complete the degree due to the demands of research, mastering a new language, travel to archives, etc. Many of our students seek external funding for their doctoral projects if they take more than 5 years to graduate.