Emphasizing the interdisciplinary study of American society and culture, coursework and hands-on experiences provide students with the knowledge and analytical skills to thrive in educational institutions, governmental and public policy agencies, museums, cultural organizations, archives, communications venues and doctoral programs. Many students have enhanced their careers in secondary education or museums by obtaining a master’s degree at Penn State Harrisburg.
The program covers America broadly in its national and international contexts. All graduate students take an introductory seminar on American studies theory and methods, AMST 500 and a culminating seminar, AMST 591, that prepares them to undertake a master’s project or thesis, AM ST 580. Students work closely with faculty members to identify, research, and complete their project or thesis. American studies faculty members are active researchers who present their work to a wide variety of regional, national, and international scholarly and public venues and actively encourage their students to do so as well.
Areas of focus include history and politics; popular culture, folklore and ethnography; American art and material culture; regional, urban, and environmental studies; and public heritage and museum studies. Intersections of these areas with historic and contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality, ethnicity, and class are key components of the program. Students can choose to earn a certificate in heritage and museum practice or folklore and ethnography in conjunction with the master’s degree.
The program benefits from Penn State Harrisburg's proximity to internationally known heritage sites such as the Gettysburg Battlefield, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center; Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, State Archives, and State Museum; historic ethnic-industrial sites of Hershey, Steelton, and the anthracite coal region; and Amish and Mennonite farmlands. Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, and Washington, D.C. provide further opportunities for research, internships, field trips, and other experiences.
This degree can be earned by full- or part-time study. Most graduate courses are offered in the evening.
Degree Conferred: M.A.