american studies

The American Studies Department offers several approaches to the MA.

Concentration options:

  • General Studies (30 credits)
  • Museums & Material Culture (30 credits)

(NOTE: MA students in the above concentrations who matriculated between fall 2007 and fall 2009 are required to complete 36 credits of graduate coursework.)

All MA students must also successfully complete the research requirements and specific course requirements associated with their particular concentrations.

Candidates for admission to the MA program in American Studies should have taken at least one yearlong course beyond the introductory level in American Studies or American social, cultural or intellectual history in preparation for graduate study. Applicants lacking some of this background can be admitted to the program with the understanding that they will take the appropriate courses as prerequisites during the first academic year in which they are enrolled; such prerequisite courses, however, do not count toward degree requirements.

All coursework and other requirements for the MA degree must be completed within four full years after matriculation in one of the department’s MA programs.

MA Requirements

During their first year in the program, all MA students are required to take AMST 6100 (Scope and Methods in American Studies; 3 credits).

Additional course requirements vary by concentration.

  • Museums & Material Culture: AMST 6710 (American Material Culture; 3 credits).
  • Folklife: AMST 6561 (American Folklife; 3 credits) and AMST 6562 (Folklore Theory; 3 credits).

(NOTE: Starting in the Fall 2012, the Department of American Studies will no longer be accepting applications for the Folklife concentration.)

To choose courses that will fulfill the remaining requirements for the degree, students should meet with the MA advisor in their concentration at least once each semester. This faculty advisor will assist students in formulating a coherent program of study.

Research Requirement

As part of their coursework, students in the General Studies, Folklife, and Museums & Material Culture concentrations must complete at least 2 approved research seminars offered by American Studies or another GW department, in which they produce an original article-length (25-35 pages), primary-source-based, research essay of publishable quality. Students should consult with the MA advisor in their concentration each semester to identify appropriate courses for fulfilling this requirement.


A thesis is not required for the MA program in American Studies. However, in exceptional circumstances and with the consent of the director of the student’s concentration (when applicable) and the potential thesis director, students may petition the DGS to substitute 6 credits of thesis research for 2 courses. Students interested in this option should meet with the DGS no later than the middle of the semester before they wish to write the thesis. Permission will be granted according to the student’s performance in the program, the quality of the research paper(s) produced to fulfill her/his program’s research requirement and the usefulness of the thesis as preparation for future professional work. Students granted permission to write an MA thesis will be provided with thesis guidelines and requirements.

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This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sept. 2019
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