AMERICAN CULTURE STUDIES - Archived 2017-18 Graduate Catalog

School Director: Susan Peña
Graduate Coordinator: Andrew Schocket
Address: 101 East Hall
Phone: 419-372-8886
Program Web Page:

Degrees Offered
Master of Arts; Doctor of Philosophy

Programs Offered
Ph.D. in American Culture Studies
M.A. in American Culture Studies

The interdisciplinary Master of Arts in American Culture Studies is designed around the concept of culture, which unifies study of many discrete aspects of American historical, social, intellectual, and artistic heritage. The program invites students to explore particular themes, issues, and periods from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The M.A. curriculum offers a foundation in the study of American culture for students with a variety of interests or goals. Primarily, we seek to communicate a sense of the complexity and diversity of the American national culture through systematic analysis of its elements. This approach is relevant equally to students who might pursue a career in education in some aspect of American culture; those who might engage in such professions as journalism, public relations, advertising, government, marketing, etc., where a knowledge of American culture is important; or those seeking enrichment of their understanding of American culture. While the American studies component of the curriculum assures a common experience in the study of culture, the remainder of the courses allows an individualized educational experience.

The interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy in American Culture Studies offers students the opportunity to critically explore the cultural and intellectual traditions that have historically shaped and defined American identity. The Program challenges students to think of culture as a dynamic and contested domain, whose definition and deployment are negotiated in the context of complex power dynamics and struggles. It invites students to explore the ways in which American identity has been historically gendered and racialized in myths of nation-making, nationalism, and national identity. In addition, we encourage students to consider these negotiations and struggles over identity in their larger transnational and diasporic contexts.

The American Culture Studies Program is comparative and interdisciplinary in nature. It emphasizes the development of critical analytical and scholarly skills, and offers practical training to prepare students for academic and professional careers.

For more information about the American Culture Studies PhD and M.A, programs, please consult the ACS program website at:

Prerequisites to Graduate Work

Applicants to the M.A. program in American Culture Studies are expected to have earned an undergraduate degree in one of the humanities/social science disciplines represented in the program. Other qualifications will be evaluated on an individual basis. Applicants are encouraged to consult with the Director.

Applicants to the Ph.D. program are expected to have earned an M.A. degree in an appropriate subject area and to have a superior academic record at both the undergraduate and master's degree levels. Applicants presenting other credentials will be evaluated on an individual basis and may be required to address any deficiencies in their background by taking specific graduate courses recommended by the ACS Ph.D. Executive Committee. Applicants are encouraged to consult with the Director.

Admission Procedure

Applicants seeking admission to either the M.A. or the Ph.D. program should follow the instructions outlined in the Graduate Admission section of this catalog. All application materials should be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office.

In addition to filling out the Graduate Application, applicants will be asked to submit the following materials:

  • Three letters of recommendation from current or former instructors or other persons qualified to evaluate probable success in the ACS graduate program.
  • Evidence of ability to conduct academic research in an interdisciplinary setting, such as copies of recent research papers or thesis chapters.
  • A two to four page statement of purpose delineating the applicant’s rationale for pursuing graduate study in the ACS program as well as an outline of career goals.
  • A current one to two page resume or curriculum vita.

Applications and supporting materials should be received by January 15th to receive fullest consideration.

For more information about submitting application materials, please consult the ACS program website at:

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts
Individual programs are designed in consultation with the graduate coordinator and based upon a combination of courses in American Culture Studies and related fields according to the interests, needs, and background of the student, his or her future plans and goals, and the interdisciplinary philosophy of the program. Thirty-three semester hours of graduate credit are required for the degree. ACS 6300, Methods and Theories, is required. The remaining thirty hours are selected from appropriate courses in American Culture Studies, Art History, Communication Studies, English, Ethnic Studies, Theatre and Film, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Popular Culture, Sociology, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies; and other related fields. No more than fifteen hours may be taken in a single department or program other than American Culture Studies.

Students may pursue the M.A. degree under one of two plans:

    Plan I: Candidates must write an interdisciplinary thesis in keeping with the philosophy of the program. Under Plan I, students complete 30 hours of course work and receive three credit hours of ACS 6990 for the accepted thesis for a total of 33 semester hours. For most students, completion of the Plan I option requires two years of full-time study in the ACS M.A. program.

    Plan II: Candidates complete 33 hours of course work and take a comprehensive examination. The student electing Plan II will sit for a four-hour written examination, covering periods in American cultural history, the student’s course work, the relationship of American culture studies to the         traditional disciplines, American Culture Studies methodology, and important themes in American culture. The examination will be based upon each student’s individual course of study.

Doctor of Philosophy
General Requirements: Requirements for the doctorate in American Culture Studies 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 American Culture Studies Ph.D. program draws on faculty from diverse academic departments and graduate programs, among them Art History, Communication Studies, English, Ethnic Studies, Theatre and Film, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Popular Culture, Sociology, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies; and other related fields. The ACS Ph.D. is normally four-year programs of study with two years of course work and two years of dissertation work.

Course Requirements: The Ph.D. program in American Culture Studies contains the following components:
    1. Common Core Requirements (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).
    2. Interdisciplinary Primary Concentration (15 hours): Either (a) Critical Studies in Film, Media, and Culture, or (b) Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Identities.
    3. Secondary Concentration (12 hours): the completion of a graduate certificate program, 12 hours in a disciplinary area, or 12 hours in an interdisciplinary theme approved by the Director.
    4. 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.
    5. Elective (3 hours).
    6. Dissertation Research (at least 16 hours).
    7. ACS 7750 (3-hour seminar in Dissertation Research and Writing).
    8. Professional Activity: During their course of study in the Ph.D. program, 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 in a variety of ways, including the supervision of internships.

Examinations: 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.

Dissertation: 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.

Graduate Courses
Please access graduate courses online at
Graduate courses offered by the American Culture Studies Program use the ACS prefix. Because ACS is broadly interdisciplinary, students may also take courses in units across the University.