Degree Requirements

Master of Arts

The student’s program must total thirty-six semester hours of credit and must have the approval of the graduate adviser. Requirements are fifteen semester hours in American studies, consisting of six hours in the research course (American Studies 390), three hours in the required methodology course (American Studies 393), and six hours in cultural history (American Studies 385 and 386); the remaining required hours are nine semester hours in a field, or fields, outside of American studies; an additional nine semester hours of electives, primarily American in content, in another field, or fields, or within American studies. The program culminates in a master’s report course (American Studies 398R) consisting of an article, after approval from the supervisor and second reader, submitted to a scholarly journal during the student's fourth semester. Typically, the article is based on a term paper or project from a course taken within the program.

Doctor of Philosophy

To obtain the doctoral degree, a student must demonstrate reading competence in a foreign language, pass the American studies oral qualifying examination, prepare and defend a dissertation prospectus, which is intended to be an exploratory document and should be no longer than twenty pages, and write and defend a dissertation that is an original contribution to knowledge about American culture and that involves interdisciplinary research.

Students entering the PhD program, who did not complete their MA within the program, are required to complete six semester hours in cultural history (American Studies 385 and 386); three semester hours in the required methodology course (American Studies 393); three semester hours in the research course (American Studies 390); and six semester hours in electives (non conference courses), which may be within American studies or from outside departments. Additional hours may be required by the graduate adviser. The required coursework should be completed within the student's first year in the program.

While preparing for the oral examination, doctoral students will take independent reading courses (American Studies 392) under the direction of faculty members and with consultation from the graduate adviser. Through such coursework, the student will master three fields of specialization—American studies, a field of interest, and a dissertation field. These are the three fields of specialization on which the student is questioned in the oral qualifying exam. While preparing for the qualifying examination, students will be advised by the graduate adviser if additional coursework is needed. For students completing the Masters of Art degree in American studies at UT Austin, the qualifying examination should be taken during the spring semester of the student's third year in the program. Following the qualifying examination, the student is expected to convene a dissertation prospectus meeting during the fall semester of the fourth year in the program. For students entering the doctoral program with a qualifying master's degree from an outside program, the qualifying examination should be taken in the spring semester of the student's second year in the program. Following the qualifying examination, the student is expected to convene a dissertation prospectus meeting during the fall of the third year in the program.