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Graduate Program


Our graduate students have a wide range of interests...

... and the freedom to explore them.

Their academic work makes a real impact in the world.

William & Mary's Graduate Program in American Studies provides a flexible plan for interdisciplinary study of the United States and the Americas.

Our program offers three degree tracks: the Ph.D., the M.A./Ph.D., and the M.A.. There is also a combination track with the School of Law that leads to an J.D./M.A.

Our areas of strength include: Africana Studies, Art and Visual Culture, Critical Race Studies, Environmental Studies, Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, Material Culture, Native/Indigenous Studies, Popular Culture, Postcolonial Studies, Religious Studies, Southern Studies, and Technology and Media Studies.


You will work closely with your advisors to develop a plan of study that

  • reflects your interests,
  • launches you into original research, and
  • allows critical engagement with your fields.

This individualized program is both coherent and flexible. It allows you to draw on the specialties of our core faculty and on the broad resources of the university as a whole

Master's Degree Programs

The American Studies Program offers an M.A. in American Studies. People enroll in our M.A. program in order to

  • to enhance careers that interpret American life to far-reaching audiences,
  • to prepare for a Ph.D. program, or
  • to do advanced study in the liberal arts for personal growth.

M.A. students take courses totaling 24 credit hours and complete a thesis. Course work is usually completed in two semesters. Thesis work is usually completed during the following summer and defended in the fall.

Joint J.D./M.A. Program

The Joint J.D./M.A. program leads to a J.D. in the William & Mary School of Law and an M.A. in American Studies. In order to participate in this program, you must apply to and be accepted in both schools. 

After admittance, you will

  • Begin your studies in the Law School. You will finish the first year Law program before starting the American Studies courses.
  • After your first year, take a combination of Law and American Studies courses for the next two years. This allows completion of the J.D. in the requisite three years.
  • A final semester devoted to writing the M.A. thesis in American Studies to complete the program. 

Review the Joint J.D./M.A. requirements on the Law School's site.

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. in American Studies is for those who wish to pursue original, interdisciplinary research and whose professional goals require a doctorate. 

Ph.D students complete 36 credit hours of course work and a dissertation. You should complete the degree in five or six years.

Sequential M.A./Ph.D. Program

The Sequential M.A./Ph.D Program allows you to complete both the M.A. and Ph.D. at William & Mary in less time than it would take if both degrees were accomplished at separate universities. You will complete all the requirements of both programs, but instead of one M.A. thesis, you will write two substantive research essays related to your proposed Ph.D. specialization.

Financial Support

Full-time M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. students admitted into the Program receive funding packages that include tuition and a stipend for five years.  Funded graduate students fulfill assistantships that provide practical experiences in American Studies-related fields such as archive and manuscript collections, editing, museum work and college-level teacher training. Ph.D. students can also apply to teach a course of their own design after serving as a teaching assistant and passing their Ph.D. qualifying exams.

Opportunities to earn small stipends are often available to full-time M.A. students.

Most financial assistance is granted at the time of a student's acceptance into the program and is renewed for four (for Ph.D students) or five (for M.A./Ph.D. students) years, provided the student makes satisfactory progress towards completion of the degree as described in the American Studies Graduate Program Handbook [pdf]. 

While most of the gradate aid budget is reserved for continuing students who have been guaranteed support for successive years, the program does attempt to aid those who arrive without aid and demonstrate high achievement in their studies. If funds are available, the American Studies Executive Committee may make annual awards to such students. 

Examples of Assistantships

You can look forward to teaching as assistants in introductory American Studies courses and offering your own courses in American Studies; Africana Studies, Art and Art History, Asian, and Pacific Islander American Studies, English; History; and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies.  We also have assistantships with The William & Mary Quarterly, the Mariner's Museum, the Sharpe Community Scholars Program, the Equality Lab, the St. Andrews Joint Degree Program, WMSURE, and other area museums and libraries. All of these positions offer extracurricular scholarly work, community engagement possibilities, and excellent preparation for future employment.

Funding for travel and research is also avialable.


With the exception of AMST 661 - Introduction to American Studies, the courses we offer vary by semester. See the Graduate Catalog for a complete list of courses offered, and the Dynamic Schedule to find out which courses will be offered in an upcoming semester.


Graduates currently pursue careers in higher education - particularly in American Studies; Art History; English; History; and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies programs - as well as in museums, publishing, journalism, public history, and other areas requiring a capacity for rigorous, interdisciplinary investigation.

Talk to Us

Want to know more? Our faculty want to connect with you.

  • Contact our Graduate Program Director, [[emlosh, Professor Elizabeth Losh]]