American Studies, MA

At a Glance: program details

What is America? What is the American experience? How do the answers to these questions vary depending on who is asked? Learn to think deeply and critically about these questions and about the role of the U.S. in matters near and far.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MA American Studies

ASU's MA program in American studies trains students in interdisciplinary approaches aimed at understanding the American experience in local and global contexts.

The array of disciplines spans the arts, humanities and social sciences, and faculty expertise covers a broad variety of ethnographic, historical, literary and media studies as well as interdisciplinary and community-based approaches. Given its geographical location in the American Southwest, ASU's American studies program values an exploration of diasporic and transnational influences in U.S. cultures and social and political history.

The American studies faculty have 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 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, what American studies uncovers and how to expand the boundaries of the new American conversation. Graduate students are immersed in conversations of how one develops, conducts and engages in research on the American experience in academia and beyond. Additionally, faculty and students explore the field of American studies as the interdisciplinary analysis of American culture from multiple critical perspectives within transnational dynamics and exchanges.

American studies graduates can bridge a strong theoretical foundation with applied research to equip them to enter national and international dialogues.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours including the required applied project course (AMS 593)
  • 30 credit hours and a thesis

Required Core (3 credit hours)
AMS 502 American Studies: Theory and Method (3)

Other Requirements (3 credit hours)
Methods Course (3)

Electives or Research (18 or 21 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (3 or 6 credit hours)
AMS 593 Applied Project (3) or
AMS 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students must complete one methods course for the degree, with academic advisor approval; AMS 502 cannot be used to meet this requirement. These courses can be drawn from a wide array of units across the various ASU campuses, but students should take advantage of the SST graduate methods courses. The academic unit sends lists of SST methods courses once per semester; students should consult with their faculty advisor or chairperson and get approval from the graduate chairperson in American studies to determine the best courses to take.

For electives or research, students should see the academic unit for the approved course list. Students choose 18 credit hours for the thesis option or 21 for the applied project option.

Admission Requirements

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 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 an 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

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency. This program requires a TOEFL iBT score of at least 90.

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 words is required. The document should not be password protected.

The statement of purpose must be about 500 words and 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 they wish to pursue, and why they want to pursue graduate study at ASU.

Two references are required. Applicants should contact the faculty or professional supervisors they intend to use for references before listing them on the application and inform the intended recommenders that they will receive 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. Applicants should confirm references' email addresses before submitting them on the application. References from family members or relations are not recommended.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BA - Asian Pacific American Studies

Engage in the histories and experiences of one of the fastest growing ethnic communities in the U.S., and examine how those experiences reflect local and global processes affecting our society and communities. Develop valuable analytical and applied skills via community-focused research and engagement.

Website | Locations: TEMPE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
April 1st
Session A/C
In Person
January 15th



Session A/C
In Person
December 1st
Session A/C
In Person
September 15th

Career Opportunities

Graduates may go on to law school, graduate school or other professional degree programs. Graduates of the Master of Arts program in American studies find success in a number of areas in local and international contexts, including:

  • business
  • communications
  • education
  • government
  • journalism
  • law and medical fields
  • nonprofits
  • political consulting
  • professional writing
  • public engagement and community relations

Global Opportunities

Global Experience

With over 250 programs in more than 65 countries (ranging from one week to one year), study abroad is possible for all ASU students wishing to gain global skills and knowledge in preparation for a 21st-century career. Students earn ASU credit for completed courses, while staying on track for graduation, and may apply financial aid and scholarships toward program costs.

Program Contact Information

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