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Department of American Studies College of Arts and Sciences

Combined Ph.D. Degree

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Kellie J. Hogue
      Combined PhD student
      American Studies /

Please click on link for corresponding information.


Students seeking admission to American Studies must first be admitted to a Ph.D. degree-granting department/school in their major area of concentration.

For students applying to the department from outside of IU:

  • Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), including both verbal and quantitative tests.
  • Students should send a letter to the American Studies Admissions Committee indicating their research interests and how these relate to American Studies. They should also include a copy of their statement of purpose. Please mail to:

    American Studies Graduate Affairs Committee
    Ballantine Hall 544
    1020 E. Kirkwood Avenue
    Indiana University
    Bloomington, IN 47405

For students applying to the department who have already been accepted into and/or are already enrolled in a Ph.D. degree-granting department/school at IU:

  • Please send a letter to the following address stating your research interests and how these relate to American Studies:

    American Studies Graduate Affairs Committee
    c/o Department of American Studies
    Ballantine Hall 544



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, theatre and drama). 

American Studies possesses rich intellectual resources that allow students to integrate their primary area of concentration with the interdisciplinary study of the American experience.

Basic Requirements

At least 90 credit hours are required for the Combined Ph.D. degree. Within this, students must complete:

  • 32 total credit hours in American Studies, including up to 12 from inside the student's "home" department.

Core Course Requirements

  • G603 Introduction to American Studies (4 cr.)
    Representative readings in interdisciplinary scholarship; the origins and the development of American Studies and current trends.
  • G604 Perspectives in American Studies (4 cr.)
    Survey of perspectives that have been and currently are significant in American Studies.
  • G751 Seminar in American Studies (3-4 cr.)
    Intensive study of specific topics in American culture and history with emphasis on developing skills in interdisciplinary research. These seminars will culminate in a 20+-page research paper. Topics and instructors will change each time the seminar is offered. May be repeated once for credit.
Note: No substitutions for G603, G604, or G751 will be accepted.

Remaining course work can come from cross-listed courses outside the student's home department (see University Graduate School Bulletin) or courses in American Studies such as:

  • G520 Topics in Interdisciplinary American Studies (3 cr.)
    Focusing on a specific topic, reflect on established AMST disciplinary methodologies and explore possibilities for new interdisciplinary syntheses. Consider issues like the questions historians ask and how they differ from those of literary critics or sociologists. May be repeated wih a different topic for a maximum of 6 credit hours.
  • G605 Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies (4 cr.)
    This is an introductory course in the interdisciplinary study of Native peoples, with primary focus on the study of indigenous peoples in the continental U.S., Alaska, and Canada.
  • G620 Colloquium in American Studies (3-4 cr.) Readings, reports, and discussions on different aspects of American culture. Topics and instructors will change each time the course is offered. May be repeated once for credit.
  • G697 Research in Transnational American Studies (4 cr.)
    Issues and methods in the study of the United States or the Americas from a hemispheric, transnational, or global perspective including directed research on relevant topics. May be repeated once for credit when topic differs for a maximum of 8 credit hours.
  • G753 Independent Study (1-4 cr.)
    P: consent of the Director of Graduate Studies and of instructor, who must be a member of the American Studies faculty. (Please complete the AMST-G753 Proposaland obtain appropriate signatures. This proposal must be on file with American Studies before permission to enroll is granted.)

Notes: Only those courses which are taught by American Studies faculty members *and* either cross- or joint-listed will count towards the 20 credits of core requirements. With few exceptions, students may not count courses that are cross- or joint-listed from their home departments towards their 20 credits of American Studies coursework.



Students entering the program as of January 2008 (approved December 2007).
Students who entered the program prior to January 2008 »

  • Students enrolled in the combined Ph.D. program must take an examination in American Studies in addition to the comprehensive examinations in their major department.
  • The examination may be taken only after completion of the American Studies course requirements; it may be repeated once, if necessary.

Reading Lists

Students will prepare two lists for the exam. The first is a mandatory list of texts that reflects critical moments in the theories and practices of American studies. The second list, consisting of approximately 50 works, will be put together by each student in accordance with her/his research, teaching, and disciplinary interests and in consultation with the exam committee and the director of graduate studies. The goal of this list is to encourage students to think of the ways that the field of American Studies complements and allows them to develop their interests, and how their work, in turn, contributes to the field.

Before the Exam

  • Students may take the exam after completion of the American Studies course requirements; it may be repeated once if necessary. The exam will be offered twice a year, at the end of the fall and spring semesters.
  • Students preparing for the exam should plan on consulting the director of graduate studies about the exam and their topic-specific reading list in the semester prior to the proposed exam date.
  • All students must submit a draft of their list together with an explanatory cover letter at least THREE MONTHS in advance of the exam, in order to allow sufficient time for discussion and any needed revisions. Final versions of these documents must be submitted no later than SIX WEEKS in advance of the exam.

Exam Committee

  • Students will work with the director of graduate studies to constitute an exam committee.
  • First they will submit to the director of graduate studies the names of two faculty members, at least one of whom must be a member of the American Studies faculty. (Students will be encouraged to name faculty with whom they have worked in the past and who have already, informally, agreed to serve.)
  • The director of graduate studies will then confirm the participation of the two proposed examiners and appoint a third member to this committee from among the AMST faculty. This appointment should be based on some degree of correlation between the faculty member's area(s) of expertise and the student's research interests.
  • Either the chair or the director of graduate studies will serve as a fourth (ex-officio) member of the committee. This latter provision should help to ensure that standards and criteria remain consistent.

Exam Format

The students will take a seven-hour, written exam in which they will select and answer one question from each of the following two categories:

  • The Projects of American Studies
    Questions in this section of the exam will address the institutional contexts and intellectual history of American Studies with emphasis on the salient shifts in the understanding of the "field"--its objects, aims, and methodologies.
  • Critical Problems
    Questions in this section of the exam will address how the student's discipline-based research both benefits from and contributes to the work of American Studies. Students should expect to formulate their research interests both topically (by reference to a particular object of study) and conceptually (by reference to the stakes in constructing/investigating such an object). Questions will ask how students are influenced in framing their object of study by the interdisciplinary and increasingly transnational context of American Studies.

Students are not allowed to consult books, notes, or any other materials during the exam.



  • The Graduate School requires that students pursuing a combined Ph.D. have at least four faculty members on their research committees, with two from each of the major fields (see the General Requirements section of the University Graduate School Bulletin for more detailed information).
  • While AMST-affiliated faculty in a student's home department can serve as representatives of American Studies, additionally required is that at least one of the AMST representatives on the committee be from outside of the student's home department.


  • 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.