The graduate program in American Studies offers a flexible, rigorous program in interdisciplinary scholarship on the United States and the Americas. By fostering a diverse and dynamic community that reaches across disciplinary boundaries into a range of departments, the program encourages students to develop intellectual resources that will sustain them in a wide variety of careers and avocations.
Graduate students work closely with their advisors to develop a program of courses and independent work that best reflects their interests, and best prepares them for original research and critical engagement with their fields. This individualized, both coherent and flexible, draws on the specialties of the program's core faculty and on the broad resources of the College as a whole.
Full-time M.A. students finish their course work in two semesters and are encouraged to finish theses during the following summer. Ph.D. students normally take another three semesters of courses before they prepare for comprehensive exams. After this they begin dissertations. Doctoral students normally should expect to complete the degree in five or six years.
Program faculty also take seriously the professional development and eventual placement of their students. Graduates currently pursue careers in higher education – particularly in History, English, Art History, and American Studies programs – as well as in museums, publishing, journalism, public history, and other areas requiring a capacity for rigorous, interdisciplinary investigation. Students can look forward to teaching as assistants in introductory American Studies courses, and offering their own courses in American Studies; English; History; Africana Studies; and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. The program also has developed assistantships with The William & Mary Quarterly, Eighteenth-Century Life, the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation, the National Park Service, and other area museums and libraries. All of these positions offer excellent preparation for future employment.