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Graduate Degrees Offered

The American Studies Program offers an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American Studies. Our graduate programs consist of coursework and independent research. Graduate students have wide latitude to choose a program of study appropriate to their interests. Our areas of strength include: U.S. American literatures, African American Studies, Art History, Critical Race Theory, Cultural Studies, Digital Humanities, Early American Histories and Cultures, Film and Visual Studies, Material Cultures, Popular Cultures, Queer Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, among others. Together with an advisor, students design an educational program for themselves that is both individualized and coherent.

There are four degree paths students may follow:

Ph.D. program 
  • Designed for those students 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.
  • Doctoral students normally complete the degree in five or six years.
  • View the full Ph.D. requirements here.
M.A. program
  • Offers excellent opportunities for persons seeking advanced study in the liberal arts for its own sake as well as to enhance preparation for careers involved in interpreting American life to far-reaching audiences, or to prepare for a Ph.D. program.
  • MA students take courses totaling 24 credit hours and complete a thesis.
  • Full-time M.A. students finish their course work in two semesters; they are encouraged to finish theses during the following summer and defend in the fall.
  • View the full M.A. requirements here.
Sequential M.A./Ph.D. program 
  • Allows students 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.
  • Students following the sequential M.A./Ph.D path must complete all the requirements of both programs.
  • For students admitted to the M.A./Ph.D. track, the M.A. thesis consists of two substantive research essays related to the student's proposed specializations for the Ph.D. program.
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.
  • Students must be accepted in both programs.
  • Students begin their studies in the Law School. After their first year, students 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 completes the program. 
  • View the Joint J.D./M.A. requirements here.
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