PhD in American Studies with Degree Program Information

Essential Information

Individuals pursuing an American studies doctoral degree are adept at interdisciplinary study. They are dedicated to finding the patterns and connections between culture, sociology, anthropology, literature, music, architecture and the myriad subcultures that exist in American society. Many Ph.D. programs in American studies emphasize gender studies and urban cultures as well as the United States in a global context. Specializations include African-American studies, Latino studies, Asian-American studies and women's studies. Because of the varied classes and concentrations that make up most American studies Ph.D. programs, graduates often work in fields such as law, film, writing and business.

Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies

Most Ph.D. programs require students to have a B.A. or an M.A. in American studies along with knowledge of philosophy, literature, cultural theory, history, the arts and the social sciences. Some schools will accept Ph.D. applicants who do not have an M.A. in American studies; however, additional coursework, such as cultural theory and cultural history, may be required. American studies doctoral students typically take around 48 hours of coursework and complete an additional 24 hours of dissertation research. Course topics may vary based on students' specializations but can include:

  • Historic preservation
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Women and film
  • American literature
  • American history
  • Ethnic, race and minority relations

Popular Career Options

Only a small percentage of American studies Ph.D. graduates are actively involved in the field, which primarily encompasses academia and academic research. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of American studies programs, graduates tend to possess skills that are valued across a variety of industries. Graduates can work as:

  • Higher education teachers and professors
  • Museum and historical site curators and education directors
  • Historical consultants and historians
  • Policy advisors
  • Writers and editors (history, culture)

Students who are interested in the interdisciplinary study of American people and already have a bachelor's or master's degree in the field may want to continue their education and earn a Ph.D. in American studies.

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