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American Studies, M.A.

Saint Louis University’s M.A. program in American studies gives students a solid grounding in the origins, development, practices and theoretical framework of the field, as well as aiding them in the pursuit of independent research and academic writing. 

Saint Louis University's award-winning American studies faculty are trained specifically in the discipline. Most have earned their Ph.D.s in American studies; all have worked extensively in the field as scholars and teachers. Our time and effort as teaching faculty are focused on American studies students. At the same time, we enjoy productive and cordial relations with our colleagues in other departments who teach and conduct research in related fields, and students may take carefully selected courses in those departments, as students in other departments do in American studies.

SLU's American studies faculty is especially strong in several areas, including transnational American studies; cultural studies and visual culture; African American literature, history and culture; U.S. intellectual history; urban cultural studies; race, ethnicity and gender theories and studies; religious studies; and twentieth-century U.S. society and culture.

Graduate Handbook

Careers

SLU's M.A. in American studies is a stand-alone degree useful for work in arts and cultural institutions, libraries, museums, historical societies, public humanities, nonprofit agencies and other venues. Some students may also pursue the M.A. in American studies as a prelude to further degrees, such as a professional M.A. or doctorate.

Admission Requirements

An undergraduate degree or equivalent in a humanities or social science area is required; additional prerequisite work may be required at the discretion of the department.

Application Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Résumé
  • Goal statement
  • Writing sample
  • Interview (scheduled in January)

All written materials are due by Dec. 15 for admission the following fall.

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students. International students must also meet the following additional requirements:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Financial documents are required to complete an application for admission and be reviewed for admission and merit scholarships. 
  • Proof of financial support that must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the student's time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of the student's study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include:
    • Courses taken and/or lectures attended
    • Practical laboratory work
    • The maximum and minimum grades attainable
    • The grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations
    • Any honors or degrees received.

WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Assistantship Application Deadline

All students who indicate a need for financial assistance and submit their complete application by Dec. 15 will be considered for financial support with admission.

American Studies Application Review Process

All applications are reviewed by a faculty committee. Qualifying applicants will be contacted for a video interview. Follow the department link above for more information about our graduate program, funding and activities.

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

For more information, visit http://www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

Graduates will be able to

  1. Apply the major practices, theories, or research methodologies in American studies.
  2. Apply knowledge from the field(s) of study to address problems in broader contexts.
  3. Articulate arguments or explanations to both a disciplinary and professional audience in both oral and written forms.
  4. Assess relevant literature or scholarly contributions in three chosen fields within American studies.
Required Courses
ASTD 5000Perspectives in American Studies3
Elective Courses
Select seven of the following:21
ASTD 5010
African American Politics, Culture & Identity
ASTD 5020
Frontiers & Borderlands: Contact & Conquest in the American Imagination
ASTD 5700
Metropolitan America
ASTD 5900
Practice of American Studies
ASTD 5910
Graduate Internship
ASTD 5930
Special Topics
ASTD 5980
Graduate Reading Course
ASTD 6015
Many Midwests: Race and Citizenship in the Heartland
ASTD 6020
American Political Thought
ASTD 6200
Visual Culture Theory
ASTD 6250
The Cultural Studies Movement: Origins and Contemporary Practice
ASTD 6400
Transnational America
ASTD 6500
Visions of U.S. Empire
ASTD 6700
Cold War Cultural Politics and the "American Century"
ASTD 6930
Special Topics
ASTD 6980
Graduate Reading Course
Options
Select one of the following Options:6
Thesis Option
ASTD 5990
Thesis Research
Portfolio Option
Choose two additional courses from list of electives.
Total Credits30

Non-Course Requirements

Qualifying Exam

At the end of the second semester of coursework, students will take a three-hour qualifying exam to demonstrate their growing knowledge of the field. The exam consists of essay questions provided by American studies course instructors. Students must answer two of the questions: one covering material from ASTD 5000 Perspectives in American Studies (3 cr) and the other chosen from another qualifying class taken that academic year.

Portfolio or Thesis

After successful completion of the qualifying exam, students will pursue one of two capstone tracks: a portfolio paper or a thesis.

A portfolio paper is a 20 to 30 page article or literature review, typically a revised and expanded seminar paper meant to demonstrate the student's extensive knowledge of their field. It is developed in conjunction with a two-person faculty committee (a chair and one additional reader) over the summer following the first year of the M.A. program and during the second year of the M.A. program.

A thesis is a more developed project with an original argument, typically 60 to 80 pages in length, based in extensive primary and secondary research. It is developed in conjunction with a three-person faculty committee (a chair and two additional readers) over the summer following the first year of the M.A. program and during the second year of the M.A. program.

Oral Examination

After the student's committee has approved the final version of the portfolio paper or thesis, there will be an oral examination before three faculty members. For the portfolio paper, this will be the two-person portfolio committee plus an additional faculty member.  For the thesis, this will be the three-person thesis committee.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Thesis Option

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
ASTD 5000 Perspectives in American Studies (Required) 3
2 additional American Studies grad seminars 1 6
 Credits9
Spring
3 American Studies grad seminars 9
Qualifying Exam 2,3  
 Credits9
Year Two
Fall
ASTD 5990 Thesis Research 3
1 American Studies grad seminar 3
 Credits6
Spring
ASTD 5990 Thesis Research 3
1 American Studies grad seminar 3
Complete Checklist for MA graduation  
Complete MA Thesis and Defense  
 Credits6
 Total Credits30
1

Up to two courses outside of the department may be substituted for ASTD seminars, with the approval of the advisor. MA Thesis students should take 15-18 credits in their first year, and an additional 12-15 (for a total of 30) in their second year. Six credits in their second year must be ASTD 5990 Thesis Research (0-6 cr).

2

Last week of classes or during Exam Week.

3

Thesis students must have an advisor and an approved topic by April of their second semester.

Portfolio Option

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
ASTD 5000 Perspectives in American Studies (Required) 3
2 additional American Studies grad seminars 1 6
 Credits9
Spring
3 American Studies grad seminars 9
Qualifying Exam 2  
 Credits9
Year Two
Fall
2 American Studies grad seminars 6
Identify an MA advisor and project 3  
 Credits6
Spring
2 additional American Studies grad seminars 6
Complete Checklist for MA graduation  
Complete MA Portfolio Paper and Defense  
 Credits6
 Total Credits30
1

Up to two courses outside of the department may be substituted for ASTD seminars, with the approval of the advisor and Grad Coordinator. MA Portfolio students should take 15-18 credits in their first year, and an additional 12-15 (for a total of 30) in their second year.

2

Last week of classes or during Exam Week.

For additional information regarding admissions and graduate programs in American Studies, please contact american.studies@slu.edu.

Kate Moran
Graduate Coordinator

Terri Foster
Administrative Assistant
314-977-2911