Ph.D. Program in American Studies

The American Studies (AMST) doctoral program offers ways to leverage the social criticism and historical analysis of academic scholarship to engage problems and issues significant to contemporary American life. This program builds individual tracks to place students with research centers and external partners that align with career interests. American Studies seeks to bring the public into the scholarship of the university in ways that build bridges between academia and communities.

The program requires students take courses from faculty in various disciplines that offer a variety of ways to analyze and critique a US-based “American experience,” broadly defined. Students will accumulate significant experience collaborating with organizations and institutions throughout the city and region. By mandating a related internship of at least one full year, the program promotes the application of academic research outside of the academy. Universities like IUPUI offer an innovative and interdisciplinary mix of methods and theory courses to develop the knowledge and skills required necessary to thrive in all sorts of environments.

Degree Requirements

90 total hours; 60 hours beyond a M.A. or M.S.

Core courses (6 hours)

  • AMST-A 601: American Studies in Theory
  • AMST-A 602: American Studies in Practice
  • AMST Doctoral Seminar (Research blog and in-person seminar for students)

Methods courses (18 credits)

Most departments consistently teach methods courses as part of their graduate programs. Such courses will comprise the foundation for the doctoral program in American Studies. The courses are distributed across three categories: analytical, digital, and quantitative/qualitative. Consultation between a student, the chair of the student’s committee, and, if possible, input from the internship director will help determine which courses are necessary.

Minor Concentration (12 credits)

Every student will have at least one minor concentration. The list below covers those areas in which minors either already exist or can be easily created. Students also have the option of creating, in consultation with their committee, a minor that brings together courses from a few disciplines.

Electives (24 credit hours)

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this Ph.D., the student will choose elective courses that complement this applied doctoral program. The student will work with her/his faculty committee to identify those courses that best complement the research questions of the Ph.D. concentration and that supplement the theories and areas of cultural study within American Studies. Electives also can be satisfied by coursework already completed prior to acceptance in the doctoral program such as a master’s degree or other applicable graduate-level work.

Qualifying Exam—Written

All students shall take a written, qualifying examination that aims to assess the student’s knowledge and readiness to carry out successful research. This exam must be completed by the semester prior to the start of the student’s dissertation.

Internship and Applied Dissertation (30 credit hours)


Among the chief aims of the program is to provide doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences with opportunities to train for careers outside of academia. The doctoral internship required of this program places interns in non-profit, for-profit, and government agencies where interns participate full time in the substantive work of an organization. The AMST Program works with the external organization to cover costs associated with graduate training, including health insurance and monthly stipends. The doctoral internship serves as part of the research for student dissertations and therefore must be guided by the student’s research committee.


The American Studies Program encourages a student to investigate problems connected with the internship; therefore, the final product will be an applied dissertation. The applied dissertation will contribute to the literature in a student’s concentration area. The dissertation must be an original contribution to knowledge and of high scholarly merit. The candidate’s research must reveal critical ability and powers of imagination and synthesis. The dissertation is written under the supervision of a research director and a research committee and cannot be a collection of unrelated published papers. There must be a logical connection between all components of the dissertation, and these must be integrated in a rational and coherent fashion. It is the responsibility of the student’s research committee to determine the kind and amount of published material that may be included in a dissertation.

The student must maintain a B+ average (3.3) or higher in order to graduate. In addition, the student must pass the comprehensive examination and complete either a thesis or an applied learning project in order to complete the degree requirements.


Admission Requirements:

Recruitment of candidates for this program will present opportunities that are somewhat atypical for doctoral programs in the liberal arts. Traditionally, doctoral programs attract students who wish to work with specific faculty members within specific disciplines in order to build expertise and future careers in that discipline. The program seeks to attract students who believe contemporary problems require understanding and analysis that a research degree anchored in the liberal arts can provide. Rather than recruit students to become future academics, this program uses academic training to develop expertise that can be applied primarily outside of classrooms. To that end, the recruitment of students will depend on establishing clear connections between external partners for internships, research centers at IUPUI, and faculty who will mentor students by helping them build programs that prepare them for fields in which they will intern.

Candidates are not required to hold advanced degrees in any particular discipline, but this program will likely attract students holding either a B.A. or M.A. in liberal arts disciplines or related degrees. Candidates should have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test (Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing). While the program does not expect to institute a fixed minimum requirement, students shall be advised that successful candidates typically have scores above the 70th percentile in the verbal, quantitative, and analytic writing sections.

Beyond these measures for admission, the applicants shall submit a written statement of purpose for entering the Ph.D. program, three letters of recommendation from individuals in professional positions able to judge success (at least one letter from a tenured or tenure-track faculty), original transcripts, and a curriculum vitae.

Applicants should submit the following:

  • Completed application form for Indiana University Gradu­ate School.
  • Personal Statement.
  • Official transcripts of all college level coursework.
  • Three letters of recommendation (from university instructors and/or professional associates) sent directly to the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • *GRE scores are not required for admission to the program if the applicant has a graduate degree; however, GRE scores are required for those applicants who have not completed a graduate degree or who feel their scores will enhance their application.
  • Interna­tional students must submit TOEFL scores. Information about TOEFL can be obtained from the International Affairs Office, 902 W. New York Street, ES 2126, Indianapolis, IN 46202 or 317- 274-7000.

Language Requirements:

For applicants whose native language is not English, IUPUI requires a 79 on the Internet- based TOEFL or 550 on the paper-based TOEFL or a 6.5 on the IELTS or a G011 or higher on the IUPUI EAP Placement Exam taken from within the last two years. However, because of the importance of writing skills on a program with a dissertation requirement, applicants should typically score above the 70th percentile (i.e., 94 on the Internet-based TOEFL). Final decisions on admission shall be made by the American Studies Advisory Committee.

More Info

Contact Dr. Raymond Haberski, Director of American Studies.