This is the first version of the 2021-22 General Catalog. The final edition and the historical PDF will be published during the fall semester.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in American studies requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a program g.p.a. of at least 3.00. They may focus on American studies or choose the sport studies subprogram.

Students work with their faculty advisor to map out a coherent plan of study that reflects their particular interests. Students are permitted considerable flexibility in constructing their study plan, but they must meet certain basic requirements, which include foundation courses, area foundation courses, two interdisciplinary fields of concentration, a research skills course, elective coursework, and a dissertation.

The two fields of concentration may be defined to correspond with a student's strongest intellectual interests, but they must be interdisciplinary in concept and multidisciplinary in scope. Each must include coursework from more than one of the University's departments and programs. The two concentration areas may, and usually should, have an intellectual relationship with each other.

Students are expected to address the cultural diversity of American life in their coursework and reading.

The Ph.D. with a major in American studies requires the following work. Some course requirements are different for American studies and sports studies.


Required Foundation Courses

All students complete the required foundation courses and should take them as early as possible.

AMST:5000Interdisciplinary Research in American Studies (taken twice in consecutive years)6

Area Foundation Courses

American Studies Students
Two American studies graduate seminars6
Sport Studies Students
SPST:5002Critical Theories and Cultural Studies3
SPST:6074Seminar in Sport History3

First Field of Concentration

American Studies Students
Courses in an interdisciplinary field with a historical concentration designed with the advisor and approved by the department's Plan of Study Committee18
Sport Studies Students
Courses on sport in cultural and historical contexts selected with the advisor and approved by the department's Plan of Study Committee18

Second Field of Concentration

American Studies Students
Courses in an interdisciplinary field designed with the advisor and approved by the department's Plan of Study Committee18
Sport Studies 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 studies18

Research Skills

All Ph.D. Students
AMST:7085Dissertation Writing Workshop (taken two or three times)2-3

Additional Requirements

All Ph.D. Students
All of these (to meet semester hours requirement to graduate):
AMST:7090Ph.D. Thesisarr.

Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy

Admission to Ph.D. candidacy signifies that the department judges a 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 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.

Comprehensive Examination

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 the student's 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.


The final requirement for the Ph.D. is the dissertation. A dissertation in American studies is a substantive work of scholarship that involves interdisciplinary research and analysis, and represents an original contribution to knowledge. In most cases, the dissertation takes the form of a book-length manuscript. However, students may propose alternatives to the traditional form, provided they have the dissertation committee’s approval and complete a memorandum of understanding with the director of graduate studies in American studies. All dissertations must be approved by a committee of five faculty members, including at least two from the Department of American Studies.


Qualified graduate students in American studies can arrange internships with a number of local agencies, including the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Division of Historic Preservation, the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, the Iowa Humanities Board, Brucemore, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, and the Putnam Museum and Science Center. With special permission, candidates conducting research during on-the-job training may receive academic credit through AMST:7994 Independent Study. Other internships with social agencies, government, or business also may be arranged.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

American studies students’ career goals are as varied as the topics they study. Even though the major does not have an explicit vocational goal, graduates are well prepared for careers in a wide range of areas, such as business, education, arts and museum administration, government, journalism, or social services.

The program also provides a good foundation for further graduate studies in the humanities, the social sciences, theology, and business as well as for professional studies in law or medicine.