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Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Beyond the master’s degree and in addition to general requirements, a Ph.D. candidate must complete a program of core and elective courses and demonstrate historical depth in the chosen emphasis. Candidates must select a concentration related to one of (or a combination of) several broad subject areas, such as race and ethnicity, gender, popular culture, religion, labor and work, political life, art, music, architecture, family life, Great Plains culture, urban life, or social and cultural theory. A minimum of 24 credit hours of course work and 18 credit hours of dissertation is required beyond the master’s degree.

Research Skills

The department accepts reading knowledge in any two languages that would be of professional use to the student, or fluency (excellent reading and conversational abilities) in any one language of professional use, or reading knowledge in one language and proficiency in a research skill, or proficiency in two research skills relevant to the graduate program (e.g., statistics or a computer language).

Note: Responsible scholarship requirements were approved after this catalog was finalized. Contact your department or program for more information about this requirement for doctoral students.

Comprehensive Examination

Candidates take the comprehensive examination after completing their doctoral course work and satisfying the research skills requirement. The comprehensive examination has written and oral components. The written examination takes the form of a paper that coherently defines the content and parameters of the student’s academic concentration, including a discussion of the state of the art in the broad area of scholarship in which the concentration falls; the major research and scholarly controversies in the area; the principal theoretical, conceptual, and methodological approaches informing it; and the direction the area is taking. After a student’s written examination paper has been accepted by his or her examining committee, she or he may take the oral comprehensive examination, which focuses upon, but is not limited to, the issues raised in the written examination paper.


An interdisciplinary dissertation is required. The department has established a detailed description of the procedures for completing a dissertation. The student’s dissertation committee is composed of at least three faculty members, who initially review and approve the student’s research proposal and direct the research to its completion.

Final Examination

All students must pass a final oral defense of the dissertation.

Handbook for Graduate Students

The department has prepared a handbook that summarizes procedures that a graduate student follows in working toward any one of the three graduate degrees. It contains a summary of regulations and departmental procedures and the rationale behind these regulations. The handbook is available online.

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