American Studies, MA

ASU’s Master’s degree in American Studies trains students with interdisciplinary approaches aimed at understanding the U.S. in local and global contexts. The American Studies MA includes critical explorations of power, empire, settler colonialism, and justice. Given our geographical location in the American Southwest, our program values an exploration of diasporic and transnational influences in U.S. cultures and social/political history.

American studies graduates can bridge a strong theoretical foundation with applied research to better equip them to enter national and international dialogues. Graduates of the Master of Arts program in American studies find success in a number of arenas, in local and international contexts, including: nonprofits, government positions, public engagement and community relations, education, communications, political consulting, professional writing, journalism, law fields, medical fields and business.

The student will be able to work with faculty with strengths and expertise in the areas of critical ethnic studies, Indigenous studies, gender studies, Black studies, immigration studies, justice studies, disability studies, queer studies, Latino studies, transborder studies, Asian Pacific American studies, cultural studies, environmental humanities and sports studies, allowing students to focus their education around these areas.

Students gain expertise from working in a community of scholars dedicated to addressing critical questions of what “America” means and what American studies uncovers. Graduate students are immersed in conversations of how one develops, conducts and engages research on the U.S. in academia and beyond. Additionally, faculty and students include the role of other nations, cultures and communities to critically evaluate the United States in global matters.

2 year program
30 credit hours
26 faculty members

Degree Overview

The MA in American Studies requires 30 credit hours and is typically completed in 2 years. Includes the following milestones:

  • Coursework
  • Thesis prospectus or non-thesis proposal
  • Completion and final defense of a thesis or non-thesis equivalent project

For electives or research, students should see the academic unit for the approved course list. Students choose 21 credit hours for the thesis option or 24 for the applied project option.

How to apply

The School of Social Transformation application process is completed online through ASU Graduate Admissions.

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants holding a bachelor's or master's degree in American studies or a closely related field are preferred.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. statement of purpose
  4. writing sample
  5. curriculum vitae
  6. two letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency: students whose native language is not English must meet ASU’s English proficiency requirements. English proficiency requirements can be found here:

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency. The history program requires a TOEFL score of at least 600 (PBT) or 90 (iBT).

The writing sample may be an article, published or unpublished; a research paper; a seminar paper; or any other extended sample of expository skill. A minimum of 4,000 to 5,000 words is required. The document should not be password protected.

The statement of purpose should be addressed to the American Studies Graduate Studies Committee. It must explain the applicant's scholarly background and training, career goals, the area of study the applicant wishes to pursue, and why the applicant wants to pursue graduate study at ASU. It must be about 500 words in length.

Two references are required. Applicants should contact faculty or professional supervisors they intend to use for references prior to listing them on the application and inform the intended recommenders that they will be receiving an email from the ASU American studies program asking them to complete a questionnaire and provide comments on the applicant's suitability for graduate study. Updated email addresses for references should be confirmed before submitting them on the application. References from family members or relations are not recommended.


The School of Social Transformation accepts applications for the American Studies, MA for Fall term starts and Spring term starts.

Priority Deadline: December 15
Final Deadline: August 1

Priority Deadline: September 15
Final Deadline: December 1
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after the priority deadline until the cohort is full.


The American Studies curriculum includes required core and self-selected elective courses. The core course will introduce students to the field of American Studies: major themes, theories and interdisciplinary methodological approaches. Students work closely with a mentor to complete the required coursework and successfully complete and defend the culminating experience. Students complete the degree with either a thesis or an applied project.

Additional Curriculum Information
For electives or research, students should see the academic unit for the approved course list. Students choose 21 credit hours for the thesis option or 24 for the applied project option.

A minimum of 30 hours is required. 

Requirements and electives


Core courses




Culminating Experience 


Total hours required


Courses and electives

The MA in American Studies requires 30 credit hours, and is typically completed in 2 years. Includes the following milestones:

  • Coursework
  • Thesis prospectus or non-thesis proposal
  • Completion and final defense of a thesis or non-thesis equivalent project

AMS 502 American Studies: Theory and Method (3)

Culminating Experience (3 or 6 credit hours)

AMS 593 Applied Project (3) or

AMS 599 Thesis (6)

ASB/HST/HUL/598 Facing Immigration

AFR 420 Race/Ethnicity & Politics

AFR 465 Harlem Renaissance: Cultural History

AFR 598 Black Military History

AFR 498/598 Black Masculinities

AIS 430 Contemporary Indigenous Spirituality

AIS 494 American Indian Food Justice and Sovereignty

AIS 502 American Indian Studies Research Methods

ENG 401 Whiteness

ENG 434: Border Literatures and Cultures

ENG 459 The African American Short Story

ENG 467 American Film Musicals

ENG 498/598 "Narrating the Archives" – (Poly Campus)

HST 408 Civil War and Reconstruction

HST 444 Latin American Independence

HST 448 Mexican/U.S. Border (Poly Campus)

HST 598 The Long Black Freedom Struggle

JHR 598 Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice Movements (West Campus)

JUS 430 Social Protest, Conflict & Change

JUS 425 Race, Gender & Justice

JUS 437 Disability and Justice

JUS 440 Prisons, Power & Punishment

JUS 509 – Stats Problems/Justice Research

JUS 530 Policy, Advocacy & Disability

SST 604 Sexuality Studies

SST 691 Performance Ethnography

WST 413 Queer Studies

WST 433 RaceSexualities: Social Justice

WST 490 Transborder Queer Performativity

WST 602 Mapping the Intersections of Gender 

*MA students can take up to two (6 hours) 400-level courses toward their degree.






AIS 502                American Indian Studies Paradigms
AIS 503                Contemporary Issues of American Indian Nations
AIS 516                Concepts of Power and Indigeneity
AIS 521                American Indian Leadership and Resistance
AFR 598              African American Rhetorical Tradition
ENG 591              Ecocriticism, Cosmopolitics, & Postcolonial Ecologies: Environmental Humanities
ENG 538              Race, Place and Power in African American Women's Writing
ENG 538              Race, Place, and Power in AfAmWomen’s Literature
ENG 598              Global American Studies- Contemporary US Literatures
FAS/SOC 591     Racial Discrimination and Identity
FAS/SOC 598     Scholarly Writing
FMS 507*           Crime & Violence in American Film
FMS 511*           Fundamentals of Cinema & TV Narrative
FMS 522*           Los Angeles: Movies & Culture
HST 598              Race and Ethnicity
HST 598             Topic: Readings in Early Ameri. History
HST 598             Topic: Readings in the American West
HST 532             Community History
HST 580*           Non-Fiction Writing
HST 591*           Gender History
HST 591*       Environmental History
HST 591*       American Indian History 1877-1934
HST 598         European Historiography
HST 598*       The Global Cold War
JUS 598          Digital Activism
JUS 542          American Indian Justice
POS 530         American Politics
REL 598         Different Voices in Contemporary Islam
SST 591          Multiracial Experience
THE 505         Critical Theory & Performance
THP 598         Legal Issues in the Arts
TSS 598          Ethnography Mexico and Borderlands
TSS 502          Foundations of Transborder Studies
WST 691.        Latinx Contributions to Feminist Thought


* Some of this language and requirements are subject to change pending program updates.