Acquire a broad familiarity with the dynamics of cultural experience and explore aspects of American life

The Department of American Studies' graduate program, offering Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to American culture and society, past and present.

Courses and seminars in American Studies focus on significant cultural problems that traverse traditional departmental lines. Students acquire a broad familiarity with the dynamics of cultural experience and explore aspects of American life, including: popular and fine arts; institutions and social processes; artifacts; values, customs, and ideals; the everyday experience of Americans; regional, racial, ethnic, class, or gender identities; nature and culture; and sport and popular entertainment.

American Studies Ph.D. and M.A. students have pursued careers in community organizing, community arts administration, museums and Historical Societies, Public Broadcasting, law, sports administration, academic positions in the digital humanities, and publicly engaged scholarship at major archives, including the Rockefeller Foundation and the Library of Congress. Many, if not more, have graduated into academic teaching positions at major Universities, small liberal arts colleges, or urban private schools. American Studies at Iowa has a long tradition of supporting international studies and international students; recent graduates have also accepted academic teaching positions in Europe and in Eastern Europe. Overall, the Department takes a flexible, student-focused approach to individual career goals, drawing on Departmental but also University resources in areas such as the Digital Humanities, College Teacher training, and public-facing scholarship.

Master of Arts in American Studies

The M.A. in American studies is a graduate program where students engage in interdisciplinary inquiry and practice the art of analyzing cultural materials in light of historical change, social justice and socio-cultural identities, communications media, and the operations of power across transnational, domestic/national and community contexts.

Learning Outcomes

Students design an interdisciplinary field of concentration in consultation with their American studies advisor. Each student must complete a portfolio, which includes a research paper, faculty evaluations for all courses taken during the student's first full year of graduate study, and a self-evaluation essay.

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Learn more about the program, including courses, curriculum and requirements here.

PhD in American Studies

The Ph.D. program in American Studies at the University of Iowa is among the oldest in the United States. Ph.D. students design their own plans of study with the support of the Department and pursue coursework in keeping with their interests in such fields as Communication Studies, Cinema, Anthropology, Sociology, English, Information Science, and the History Department. The American Studies Department is strongly committed to supporting a variety of student career goals through individual development plans that integrate American Studies research with social justice, public engagement and public service goals, or with non-traditional or digital presentation formats.

Learning Outcomes

Students work with their faculty advisor to map out a coherent plan of study that reflects their particular interests. Students are permitted considerable flexibility in constructing their study plan, but they must meet certain basic requirements, which include foundation courses, area foundation courses, two interdisciplinary fields of concentration, a research skills course, elective coursework, and a dissertation.

Want to get started?

Learn more about the program, including courses, curriculum, and requirements here.