Programs by Campus


American Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

Departmental E-mail: amst [at] indiana [dot] edu

Departmental URL:



(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)
Program Information

For additional graduate student information, contact Ballantine Hall 544, phone (812) 855-7718, fax (812) 855-0001.

Degrees Offered

The Department of American Studies provides an opportunity to pursue the interdisciplinary study of American society and culture.  Students in the Ph.D. program acquire specialized training in one particular discipline as well as firm grounding in interdisci­plinary study. They are encouraged to shape portions of their graduate studies to fit individual needs and interests. Courses in the program are also open to graduate students pursuing a master's degree in another department, special nondegree graduate students, and international students.

1. Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies

2. Combined Doctor of Philosophy, a combined degree program in American Studies and another discipline (including but not limited to: African American and African Diaspora Studies, anthropology, art history, communication and culture, comparative literature, criminal justice, education, English, folklore, gender studies, history, history of education, journalism, law, philosophy, political science, religious studies, sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, telecommunications, or theatre, drama, and contemporary dance).

Special Program Requirements

See also general University Graduate School requirements.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Admission Requirements

Admission is by approval of the program’s Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC). Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, a cumulative GPA of 3.2, and a major GPA of 3.5 and above. GRE scores are required. An MA degree is optional. We ask that students submit three letters of recommendation from faculty members familiar with their undergraduate work, a writing sample, and a brief personal statement. Furthermore, though we are especially interested in students who have a demonstrated interest in American Studies, we welcome applications from students with degrees in all fields.

Course Requirements:

At least 90 credit hours are required for the doctorate. Within these, students must complete AMST G603, Introduction to American Studies (4 cr.), AMST G604, Perspectives in American Studies (4 cr.), one section of AMST G620, Colloquium in American Studies (3-4 cr.), and at least four courses at the 700 level or higher, including at least 3 credits of G751, which may include cross-listed courses and relevant electives offered through American Studies. PhD. students must complete at least 32 credits in American Studies coursework.  With the consent of their advisory committee, students can count one class taken outside AMST towards these requirements, though it must be taught by an AMST faculty or affiliate faculty member. No substitutions are allowed for G603 and G604.

Advisory Committee:

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) is the initial advisor to each cohort of students. By the end of their second year, however, all students will select a specific advisor from among the core faculty, and will constitute a four person Advisory Committee, which may include members of the affiliate faculty.

Thematic Plan of Study:

Together with his/her advisor, the student will complete a thematic plan of study, organizing elective coursework—taken and planned—around a chosen focus, and submit it to the DGS at the beginning of every calendar year. The plan of study will be revised each fall, beginning in the second year of coursework, and resubmitted at the start of each year until the student has completed his/her coursework.

Qualifying Examination:

Students will take an exam in two parts: a written examination conducted over the course of their fifth semester and an additional oral examination. The written exam will cover two distinct fields and will be based on reading lists prepared by the student and his/her advisor that reflects the intersection of their interests and the work of American Studies scholarship. Students will write one 25 page essay per field.  The oral exam will take place after completion of the written exams, and last two hours.  The exam committee is composed of the student’s Advisory Committee plus a representative of the student’s minor concentration.

Dissertation Committee:

Students will work with their advisor to form a dissertation committee of at least four faculty members total, including a representative from their doctoral minor.  A member of the core faculty will chair, or co-chair, each dissertation committee. Untenured faculty members in AMST are allowed to chair dissertation committees.

The Prospectus:

Upon successful completion of the written and oral components of the qualifying examination, the student will then assemble a dissertation committee and spend semester 6 working on a dissertation prospectus.  The prospectus must be completed and receive the committee's approval one semester after the student has passed the written and oral parts of the qualifying exams.

The Dissertation:

The dissertation proposal shall be defended orally, as shall the dissertation itself. The proposal should be defended in the semester following the successful completion of the qualifying exam. All dissertation defenses are open to the public.

Minor Requirement:

Students must complete a minor in another department, program, or field. The minor should normally be completed by the end of the student’s third year. No courses may be cross-counted towards the minor.

Foreign Language Study:

Before taking the qualifying exams, all Ph.D. students will demonstrate advanced proficiency in a foreign language related to their field of study by completing at least one 300 level course in their chosen language of study with a grade of B or higher, or passing the Graduate Student Foreign Language Exam (GSFLE) in French, German or Spanish. Students whose dissertation projects demand more in-depth knowledge of a particular language should work with their advisor to determine what higher level of proficiency beyond this requirement will be necessary to ensure success.

Combined Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Admission Requirements

Acceptance into the combined Ph.D. is contingent upon prior admission to a Ph.D. granting department/school in their major area of concentration. Students applying to the department from outside of IU should indicate a desire to pursue the combined doctoral degree in their statement of purpose, which is to be submitted with the application.  A copy of the statement of purpose and a letter indicating their interests should be sent to the American Students Graduate Affairs Committee.  Deficiencies in background may be removed by completing specified courses.  Students applying to the program who have already been accepted into and/or are already enrolled in a Ph.D. degree-granting department/school at I.U. must send a letter to the American Studies Graduate Affairs Committee stating their research interests and how these relate to  American Studies. 

Course Requirements

A minimum of 90 credit hours, of which 32 must be in Ameri­can Studies.  The student must complete 20 hours of core courses including G603, Introduction to American Studies (4 cr.), G604, Perspectives in American Studies (4 cr.), G751, Seminar in American Studies (3-4 cr.), and eight additional credit hours, such as G605, Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies (4 cr.), G620, Colloquium in American Studies (3-4 cr.), G697, Research in Transnational American Studies (4 cr.), G753, Independent Study (1-4 cr.), or cross-listed and joint-listed courses taught by American Studies faculty members outside the student's home depart­ment. The 32 credit hours may include 12 credit hours of appropriate courses relevant to American Studies inside the student's home department.  The remaining 12 credit hours should include appropriate courses relevant to American Studies, and may be taken with a student's home department.  Strong encouragement is given to interdisciplinary diversification. The dissertation (minimum of 15 credit hours) should reflect interdisciplinary study and research.

Advisory and Research Committees

The Graduate School requires that students pursuing a com­bined Ph.D. have at least four faculty members on their advisory and research committees, with two from each of the major fields (see the General Requirements chapter in the Graduate Bulletin). While AMST-affiliated faculty in a student’s home department can serve as representatives of American Studies, the program additionally requires that at least one of the AMST representatives on the committee be from outside of the student’s home department.

Qualifying Examination

Students in the combined Ph.D. degree program must take a comprehensive written examination in the field of American Studies in addition to the qualifying examination given in the student's home department. The examination is to be taken after completion of the American Studies course requirements. The examination may be repeated only once.

The Dissertation

The dissertation should reflect interdisciplinary study and research.  The hours for the dissertation are determined by the major department (minimum of 15 hours).  The oral defense of the dissertation will be conducted jointly with the student's home department.  At least two members of the American Studies faculty must be on the student's dissertation committee.

Ph.D. Minor in American Studies

Students choosing American Studies as a minor (minimum 12 credit hours) in their doctoral program must complete G603, Introduction to American Studies (4 cr.), G751, Seminar in American Studies (3-4 cr.) and either G604, Perspectives in American Studies (4 cr.), G605, Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies (4 cr.),  G620, Colloquium in American Studies (3-4 cr.), G697, Research in Transnational American Studies (4 cr.), G753, Independent Study (1-4 cr.), or a cross-listed course outside the student's home department.

Ph.D. Minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies

Students who pursue the Ph.D. minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies will focus their interdisciplinary study on the histories, cultures, art, folklore, politics, and literatures of Native American and Indigenous peoples, chiefly in the Americas, but also, where appropriate, globally.  This is one of a very few programs in the United States that focuses explicitly on Native American and Indigenous Studies at the graduate level, and that place the study of American Indians within the context of a broader, more sweeping and international inquiry into the nature of political power, colonial settlement, and global contact.

Program of Study

Students are required to submit a "Plan of Study" to a member of the Committee on Native American and Indigenous Studies for final approval. Af­ter approval, a signed copy should be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies in American Studies. The Plan of Study will provide the rationale for the student’s proposed curriculum and will list the courses, with alternative selections in the event such courses are not offered on a timely basis that will serve as the student’s minor program. With the Director’s approval, the student will become officially enrolled in the Native American and Indigenous Studies degree.


Interested students must first be admitted into a Ph.D. program on the Bloomington campus.  Requirements for the Native American and Indigenous Stud­ies Ph.D. minor encourage graduate students to develop a program of academic inquiry that complements their doctoral program and takes advantage of the wide range of College of Arts and Sciences faculty.  Students must complete at least 12 credits of coursework, in­cluding the required course, G605, Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies.  The remaining credits can come from any other American Studies course offered by NAIS faculty, assuming content is appropriate, including G620, Colloquium in American Studies (3-4 cr.), with relevant Native or In­digenous content, and a section of G751, Seminar in American Studies (3-4 cr.), also with relevant Native or Indigenous content, or G753, Independent Study in American Studies (1-4 cr.), also with relevant Na­tive or Indigenous content.  Students may count up to two graduate-level Native or Indigenous language courses (which are usually listed at the 500-level) toward the minor.  For a list of affiliated faculty, students should consult:

Ph.D. Minor in Critical Race and Postcolonial Studies (CRPS)

Jointly administered by the departments of English and American Studies, this minor requires four courses, (12-16 credits): the Introduction to Critical Race and Postcolonial Studies (ENGL L 648 Readings in Ethnic & Postcolonial Studies) and three additional courses drawn from at least two departments, chosen in consultation with the CRPS supervisor. To complete the minor, the student must present her/his research in a forum organized by the CRPS Advisory Committee.

This minor introduces students to key debates and theories in Critical Race and Postcolonial Studies (CRPS). It replaces the minor in Comparative Ethnic and Postcolonial Studies (CEPS), reflecting the changing frames and content of these fields. Critical Race and Postcolonial Studies is the interdisciplinary humanities study of the complex process of racialization. It is dedicated to parsing power relationships constituted by webs of social categories (race, ethnicity, nation, gender, sexuality, etc.) at multiple degrees of scale, seeking to map the ways power is structured in social relation as well as through the range of categories in play in any given historical context. Work in this field is attentive to questions of material production, class, capital, and power, and is oriented transnationally and diasporically to global histories of indigeneity, colonialism and empire.

The composite title of this minor reflects the emergent nature of the field, known in some fora as Critical Ethnic Studies, elsewhere as Critical Race Studies, and not to be confused with the legal field of Critical Race Studies. Deploying critical theory to analyze representation and subject formation, CRPS integrates tools generated under the aegises of several related fields. It is rooted in Cultural Studies, particularly the strain of Black British Cultural Studies (Birmingham School) associated with Stuart Hall’s analysis of culture as a site of political struggle, and inflected by Postcolonial Studies toward the transnational geopolitics that shape the nature and experience of race. It is indebted to the model of Ethnic Studies developed in the U.S. in the1960s and ’70s, and subsequently shaped by new advances in the discipline of American Studies. CRPS comprises the cutting edges of these fields as they have evolved in conversation with each other and with poststructuralist theory, integrating feminist and queer of color critique at the turn of the millennium. This umbrella offers, today, an interdisciplinary field with a distinctive historiography, methodology, and expanding canon. As analytical framework, CRPS highlights dynamics of social categories as they relate to power, dedicated to critiques of inequity and exclusion in the U.S. and the world.

The CRPS minor seeks to familiarize students with this complex genealogy and to involve students in the current debates and methods of this growing field. Housed administratively in English and American Studies, it offers the opportunity for a wide-ranging interdisciplinarity, including courses from across the College of Arts and Sciences (and perhaps beyond).


Students must take four courses (12-16 credits): the Introductory Course (ENGL L 648 Readings in Ethnic and Postcolonial Studies, offered annually) and three additional courses chosen in consultation with the CRPS supervisor. Courses beyond ENGL-L 648 must come from at least two departments. To complete the minor, the student must present her/his research in a forum organized by the CRPS Advisory Committee.

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