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Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Beyond the master’s degree of 30 hours, a Ph.D. candidate must complete up to 30 additional hours in exam preparation and dissertation hours. Candidates must select 3 concentrations 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.

Comprehensive Examination

Candidates take the comprehensive examination after completing their doctoral course work. 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 concentrations, 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 4 faculty members, who initially review and approve the student’s research proposal and direct the research to its completion, and a fifth faculty member assigned to the committee by Graduate Studies.

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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