Master of Arts in American Studies

This program emphasizes the interdisciplinary study of American society and culture. It serves students who want to investigate the American experience and apply their studies in a variety of professions, including education, government, communications, and museums. The program’s distinguishing characteristic is that the majority of its course offerings are taught by faculty trained in the discipline of American Studies and bearing the “American Studies” title. The program offers a number of concentrations including folklore, cultural history (politics, popular culture, media studies), international American Studies, material and visual culture (art, architecture, craft, land-scape, food, clothing, medicine), public heritage (museums, historic preservation, archiving, cultural resource management), race and ethnicity, and regional studies.

The campus is located in a rich cultural region, surrounded by Amish Farmlands, Gettysburg, Hershey, Steelton, Ephrata, Carlisle, York, and Harrisburg. Proximity to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York offer a host of research options for students. Strong ties with local educational and cultural institutions, including the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, State Museum of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Farm Museum of Landis Valley, Hershey Museum, National Civil War Museum, Dauphin County Historical Society, Cumberland County Historical Society, and other public heritage resources provide excellent learning opportunities for students.

This degree can be earned by full- or part-time study. Most 500-level courses are offered in the evening.

Degree Conferred: M.A.

Program Requirements for Admission

Requirements More Information
GPA Minimum of 2.75 junior/senior grade-point average on a 4.00 scale
Education The graduate program in American Studies accepts students from a wide array of disciplines — art, history, English, sociology, and anthropology — but recommends educational preparation related to the interdisciplinary study of American culture.
Supporting Materials
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the student’s ability to handle graduate study
  • A statement of intent (approx. 1,000 words outlining their preparation for study, proposed fields of study, and career goals) and
  • A sample of written work (seminar paper or equivalent research paper) as evidence of their American research and writing skills.
  • Students applying for scholarships and assistantships are requested to submit general examination scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within five years previous to the date of application. The GRE is recommended, but not required, for admission.

Application Deadline

Semester Deadline
Fall February 15
Spring October 15

Application Process

Gather supporting materials and begin the standard graduate application.

Degree Requirements

The student is required to take a minimum of 30 credits in American Studies, including at least 18 credits in the 500 series; AM ST 500, 591, and AM ST 580 or 600 are required. AM ST 500 should be taken within the first two semesters of study; AM ST 591 should be taken in the last two semesters of study. Usually in the last semester, students are required to complete their program with a major paper by taking AM ST 580 or thesis in which case AM ST 600 is taken. The choice of AM ST 580 to fulfill graduation requirements is for an original scholarly master’s paper or project. One to 6 credits in AM ST 580 can be earned; the typical number of credits for the culminating project is three. The choice of AM ST 600 is for a thesis and is taken for 6 credits. The thesis must follow the guidelines established by the Graduate School Thesis Office (see http://www.gradsch.psu.edu/current/thesis.html).

Advanced undergraduate courses (400-level) that have not counted toward a student’s undergraduate degree may be considered for transfer into the graduate student’s requirement of 30 credits of American Studies with permission of the program and approval of the Graduate School. At least 20 of the 30 credits must be earned at the Harrisburg location where the program is offered. Courses not having an American Studies designation but which are relevant to American Studies may be considered for inclusion in the 30-credit requirement with permission of the program.

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses to make up defi ciencies or to fi ll in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Transfer Credits and Course Substitutions

Transfer credits are limited to 9 equivalent American Studies credits with a grade of B or better in the last five years from an accredited graduate institution.

Graduate School Assistantships

Full-time graduate students who are interested in an assistantship should contact the graduate program coordinator. Students must be nominated for an assistantship by their program coordinator.

Students applying for an assistantship should submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or similar examinations by January 15.

American Studies (AMSTD)

  • AM ST 500 THEORY AND METHODS (3)
  • AM ST 502 PROBLEMS IN AMERICAN STUDIES (3-6)
  • AM ST 510 U.S. LITERATURE AND CULTURE (3)
  • AM ST 511 PIVOTAL BOOKS (3-9)
  • AM ST 520 TOPICS IN POPULAR CULTURE (3)
  • AM ST 530 TOPICS IN AMERICAN FOLKLORE (3)
  • AM ST 531 MATERIAL CULTURE AND FOLKLIFE (3)
  • AM ST 533 AMERICAN CIVILIZATION IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY (3-9)
  • AM ST 534 AMERICAN CIVILIZATION IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (3-9)
  • AM ST 535 AMERICAN CIVILIZATION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (3-9)
  • AM ST 536 AMERICAN CIVILIZATION IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (3)
  • AM ST 540 ETHNOGRAPHY AND SOCIETY (3)
  • AM ST 550 SEMINAR IN PUBLIC HERITAGE (3) Prerequisite AM ST 482
  • AM ST 551 SEMINAR IN LOCAL AND REGIONAL STUDIES (3)
  • AM ST 560 SEMINAR IN RACE AND ETHNICITY (3)
  • AM ST 561 SEMINAR IN GENDER AND CULTURE (3)
  • AM ST 570 TOPICS IN AMERICAN ART (1-6)
  • AM ST 575 MUSEUM INTERNSHIP (3)
  • AM ST 579 READING IN AMERICAN STUDIES (3-9)
  • AM ST 580 PROJECTS IN AMERICAN STUDIES (1-6)
  • AM ST 590 COLLOQUIUM (1-3)
  • AM ST 591 SEMINAR IN AMERICAN STUDIES (3) Prerequisite: AM ST 500
  • AM ST 592 FIELD EXPERIENCE IN AMERICAN STUDIES (3) Prerequisite AM ST 500
  • AM ST 594 RESEARCH TOPICS (1-15)
  • AM ST 595 INTERNSHIP (1-18)
  • AM ST 596 INDIVIDUAL STUDIES (1-9)
  • AM ST 597 SPECIAL TOPICS (1-9)

Additional Courses

Additional Courses may be taken from the following list of American Studies courses and from 400-level courses in other fields with the concurrence of the student’s adviser.

  • AM ST 400 EARLY AMERICA TO 1765 (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies or history.
  • AM ST 401 REVOLUTION AND EARLY REPUBLIC, 1765-1815 (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of American Studies or history
  • AM ST 402 ANTEBELLUM AND CIVIL WAR ERA, 1815-1876 (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies or history
  • AM ST 404 COLD WAR AMERICA (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of American Studies or history
  • AM ST 405 INDUSTRIAL AMERICA, 1876-1940 (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of American Studies or history
  • AM ST 406 CONTEMPORARY AMERICA (3) Prerequisite: HIST 021 or 6 credits of American Studies
  • AM ST 430 WOMEN IN AMERICAN SOCIETY (3) Prerequisite: At least one previous American Studies or Women’s Studies course, or permission of the program coordinator
  • AM ST 412 AMERICAN ERAS (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of American Studies or history
  • AM ST 417 AMERICAN BELIEFS AND MYTHS (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of American Studies
  • AM ST 431 NATIONAL CHARACTER (3) Prerequisite: AM ST 301 or 6 credits in American Studies
  • AM ST 439 AMERICAN REGIONS (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of American Studies or geography
  • AM ST 441 HISTORY OF SPORT IN AMERICAN SOCIETY (3) Prerequisite: KINES141 or 3 credits of United States history
  • AM ST 448 ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE UNITED STATES (3) Prerequisite: ANTH 045
  • AM ST 435 AMERICANS AT WORK (3)
  • AM ST 460 AMERICAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES (3)
  • AM ST 461 AMERICAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (3)
  • AM ST 462 AMERICAN ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE 20TH CENTURY (3)
  • AM ST 472 TOPICS IN AMERICAN LITERATURE (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of ENGL, ENLSH, or LIT
  • AM ST 475 BLACK AMERICAN WRITERS (3) Prerequisite: ENGL 015 or 030
  • AM ST 476 AMERICAN WOMEN WRITERS (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits of ENGL, ENLSH, or LIT.
  • AM ST 479 AMERICAN EXPRESSIVE FORMS (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies
  • AM ST 480 MUSEUM STUDIES (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies
  • AM ST 481 HISTORIC PRESERVATION (3)
  • AM ST 482 PUBLIC HERITAGE (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies
  • AM ST 483 ORAL HISTORY (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies.
  • AM ST 484 ARCHIVES AND RECORDS MANAGEMENT (3) Prerequisite: 6 credits in American Studies
  • AM ST 491W AMERICAN THEMES, AMERICAN ERAS (3-6)
  • AM ST 494 RESEARCH PROJECT (1-12)
  • AM ST 495 INTERNSHIP (1-6) Prerequisite: 18 credits of course work in major for graduate students; approval of program required
  • AM ST 496 INDEPENDENT STUDIES (1-18)
  • AM ST 497 SPECIAL TOPICS (1-9)

For Current Students


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