The American Studies Program at Penn State Harrisburg offers the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in American Studies. American Studies, as a field, is vibrant and global in scope, with more than 300 degree-granting institutions and more than 30 that offer the doctorate. We are Pennsylvania's only doctoral program in American Studies. The program's distinction is our experience in American Studies education and our prime location in the heart of one of America's best known cultural and historic regions (including Dutch Country, Amish Farmlands, the Coal Region, Gettysburg Battlefield, and Hershey Park) near Pennsylvania's capital and within easy reach of major transportation. Penn State Harrisburg's first doctoral cohort in American Studies began in fall 2009, and the M.A. program traces its beginning to 1972. The undergraduate degree was one of the first to be installed when the college was established in 1966. Originally defined as a Bachelor of Humanities degree, the undergraduate degree in American Studies became a Bachelor of Arts in fall 2009. Currently, a student may not apply for the Ph.D. program from the B.A.; students applying to the Ph.D. program must have received the M.A.
The program covers America broadly, with concentrations on public heritage; interdisciplinary history and politics; folk and popular culture; society and ethnography; and environmental, urban, and regional studies. We view American Studies as a discipline with its own theories, methods, and applications and a goal of interpreting the American cultural experience. In our coverage, location, and faculty expertise, we have strengths in material culture (art, architecture, craft, landscape, food, clothing, medicine), public heritage (museums, historic preservation, archiving, oral history, festival production), race and ethnicity (particularly Pennsylvania-German, African-American, and Jewish-American), and regional and local studies (especially Pennsylvania and the Middle Atlantic region).
This 15-credit graduate certificate program provides students with knowledge of practices in the heritage and museum sector, which includes historical and heritage societies, art galleries, archives and record management programs, educational institutions, cultural and governmental agencies, preservation and cultural resource management groups, and media production companies. Read more about the program page >>
Most of our courses are managed directly by the program, which is housed in the School of Humanities. Our courses will have the AM ST prefix, as you will see when you examine the Schedule of Classes. This organizational arrangement means that our faculty are committed to American Studies and not any other "home" department, as is the case with other programs. The American Studies program is flexible, allowing you to take courses related to American Studies in other programs, and to design a sequence of courses addressing your particular needs. For example, we maintain strong ties to the School of Public Affairs, which offers a range of courses that count toward the American Studies degree in political science, public policy, criminal justice, and public administration. Its organization is historical, topical, applied, and integrative. Within the American Studies Program, You will find a historical sequence of courses on American Civilization in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries; a topical sequence of Art, Folklore and Folklife, Popular Culture, Ethnography, and Literature; an applied sequence of public heritage, archives and records management, museums, historic preservation, and oral history; and an integrative sequence of seminars and colloquia in American Studies.
The American Studies Program at Penn State Harrisburg participates in the University's assessment of student learning. Each major degree program develops an assessment plan that includes all courses associated with the major. The goals and objectives for the American Studies Program are listed below. For more information on the University's "Assessment of Student Learning," see http://www.assess.psu.edu/.