The program features two broad interdisciplinary academic tracks from which students choose their major concentration:
1) Critical Studies in Media, Film, and Culture; and
2) Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Identities.
These are designed to immerse students in contemporary research and debates in the field of Cultural Studies. They also reflect the unique academic strengths of our graduate faculty, who are deeply involved in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary teaching and research. The American Culture Studies program includes faculty members from the following departments and graduate programs:
- Communication Studies
- Ethnic Studies
- Popular Culture
- Women’s Studies.
Recognizing that American culture is complex and multifaceted, this program requires work in a variety of subject areas, encouraging students to reflect on both the historic heritage and contemporary expression of our national experiences.
Requirements for the doctorate in American Culture Studies (ACS) are the completion of at least 61 semester hours beyond the master's degree including at least 16 hours of credit for research on the dissertation. The Ph.D curriculum contains the following components:
- Common Core Requirement (12 hours): Theories of American Culture Studies (ACS 7300), Genealogy of American Culture (ACS 7400), Publication and Professional Development (ACS 7450), and ACS Methodologies (ACS 7100).
- Interdisciplinary Primary Concentration (15 hours): Either (a) Critical Studies in Film, Media, and Culture, or (b) Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Identities.
- Secondary Concentration (12 hours): Either a 12 hours in a disciplinary area or the completion of a graduate certificate program.
- At least 3 credit hours in a designated methodology course offered in an academic unit other than ACS but related to the primary or secondary concentration is strongly encouraged.
- Elective (3 hours).
- Dissertation Research (at least 16 hours).
- ACS 7820 (3-hour hour seminar in Dissertation Research and Writing).
- Professional Activity: During their course of study toward the Ph.D, students are encouraged and expected to participate in a range of professional activities aimed at preparing them to compete successfully on the job market. These include activities such as professional conference presentations, publication in scholarly journals and edited volumes, internships, and/or other professional activities related to their chosen field. The ACS Program assists students in the pursuit of these activities, including the supervision of internships.
Successful completion of the Preliminary Examination, which is given in the Fall semester of the third year of full-time study, is required for formal advancement to PhD candidacy. The preliminary examination is intended to test the students mastery of the content, theories, and methodologies covered in the American Culture common core required courses and in the student’s interdisciplinary major area of concentration.
The dissertation topic should be consistent with the candidate's planned profession and is subject to the approval of the ACS PhD Executive Committee. The dissertation is the culmination of the candidate’s academic study, and should make a contribution to the candidate’s academic area of study. American Culture Studies dissertations normally employ an interdisciplinary methodology. Doctoral committees in the American culture program will consist at a minimum, of three affiliated faculty members from the American Culture Studies Program and a representative of the Graduate College. Other appropriate faculty, including faculty from other institutions, may be included with the approval of the ACS PhD Executive Committee.