PhD Degree Requirements

The PhD program in American studies requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of course work, which includes a core of American studies courses in interdisciplinary methods and substantial course work in two major fields of concentration. The Department offers a specialized sub-track in Sport Studies.

Degree requirements are as follows.

A. Course Requirements

72 semester hours of course work

Required Foundation Courses (6 s.h.) [for all students]

  • AMST:5000 Interdisciplinary Research in American Studies (taken twice in consecutive years)

Area Foundation Courses (6 s.h.)
For American Studies PhD students:

  • 2 American studies graduate seminars (AMST prefix) (6 s.h.)

For Sport Studies sub-track PhD students:

  • SPST:5002 Critical Theories for Sport (3 s.h.)
  • SPST:6074 Seminar in Sport History (3 s.h.)

1st Interdisciplinary Field of Concentration (minimum 18 s.h.)
For American Studies PhD students:

  • Courses in an interdisciplinary field with a historical concentration, designed with the advisor and approved by the department's Plan of Study Committee

For Sport Studies sub-track PhD students:

  • Courses on sport in cultural and historical context selected with the advisor and approved by department's Plan of Study committee

2nd Interdisciplinary Field of Concentration (minimum 18 s.h.)
For American Studies PhD students:

  • Courses in an interdisciplinary field designed with the advisor and approved by the department's Plan of Study Committee

For Sport Studies sub-track PhD students:

  • Courses in an interdisciplinary field designed with the advisor and approved by the department's Plan of Study Committee; may be a second field in sport studies or a field outside sport studies.

Research Skills requirement (minimum 3 s.h.)
For American Studies PhD students:

  • AMST:7085 Dissertation Writing Workshop (taken 3 times for a total of 3 s.h.)

For all Sport Studies sub-track PhD students:

  • SPST:7070 Sport Studies Workshop (3 s.h.)

Additional [for all students]

  • Electives and AMST:7090 PhD Thesis (21 s.h.)
  • 18 s.h. completed coursework annually for all students prior to comprehensive examinations

B. Admission to PhD candidacy

Admission to Ph.D. candidacy signifies that the department judges the doctoral student qualified to take the comprehensive examination. Doctoral students advance to Ph.D. candidacy based on a review conducted during their second year in the Ph.D. program (typically during fall semester); the review assesses a student’s readiness to complete his or her studies through the comprehensive examination and the dissertation, which is an original work of scholarship. In addition to judging a student's readiness for Ph.D. candidacy, the review provides a progress report on the student's work and a tentative prognosis for future prospects in the field.

C. Comprehensive examinations

The comprehensive examination comprises three written exams and one oral exam.

The first exam is taken under the supervision of an American studies faculty member, who also chairs the comprehensive examination. The candidate takes a timed, take-home written exam of no less than four hours and no longer than two days; the exam details the candidate’s approach to American studies (methods and models), including his or her position and critical engagement with models of American studies scholarship.

The remaining two written exams explore the candidate's major fields; these are at least four hours long and may be given on a take-home basis at the examiner's discretion.

The oral exam covers material from the written exams.

D. PhD Thesis

The final requirement for the Ph.D. in American studies is the dissertation, a substantive book-length manuscript that involves interdisciplinary research and analysis and that represents an original contribution to knowledge. All Ph.D. dissertations must be approved by a committee of five faculty members, including at least two from the Department of American Studies.

For more information, contact:

Laura Rigal
Director of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor of American Studies
711 Jefferson Buildling
laura-rigal@uiowa.edu