The Department seeks to promote understanding of the complex nature of American life and culture through examining how individual experience intersects with local, national, and global contexts. In investigating issues such as identity, difference, representation, power, and cultural and historical change, the Department encourages the study of national, regional, and local communities, and supports research focused within both contemporary and historical contexts.
The Department offers students the opportunity to apply American Studies theory and method to their own areas of research, while encouraging them to draw on the approaches of related disciplines in order to inform and enrich their work. In addition to twelve American Studies Department faculty, the Department also provides students with access to a network of four Core Affiliate faculty and approximately seventy Affiliate Faculty from departments such as Afro-American Studies, Anthropology, Architecture, English, History, Sociology, and Women’s Studies. Regular Departmental, Core Affiliate and Affiliate faculty members are all eligible to direct dissertations and theses and to serve as advisors to graduate students in American Studies.
Our connections with a wide variety of faculty from departments across campus offer American Studies students a chance to take part in projects such as the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity (CRGE) or the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), attend joint-sponsored lecture series and polyseminars, and engage in a dialogue with the broader community of Americanists on campus. The American Studies Department also offers students the opportunity to receive certificates in programs such as Digital Studies, Historic Preservation, Museum Scholarship and Material Culture, and Women’s Studies. Students can also make use of the extensive resources housed in the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and other Washington-Baltimore area museums, libraries, and government agencies.
The Department is committed to supporting excellence and originality in scholarly research. It also seeks to foster community and professional relationships, and encourage regional and national scholarly exchange through student and faculty participation in conferences, projects, and workshops, and through the publication of scholarly work.
Graduate students enter the program with a variety of skills, research interests, backgrounds, and professional experience. Whether focused on careers in the academy, advocacy and public policy, government, media, or cultural resource management, students find in the Department a community of scholars engaged with teaching and research, and resources designed to complement their specific interests and goals and to develop their academic skills.
Prospective students are welcome to visit campus to meet faculty appropriate to their interests and talk with graduate students about day-to-day life in the program.
How do I apply to your program?
All applications are made through the Graduate School at the University of Maryland. The University of Maryland has gone paperless and no longer prints paper applications. The Graduate School strongly encourages prospective students to submit all application materials online at http://www.gradschool.umd.edu/application. Applicants who do not send materials electronically must submit all hard-copy materials in one package to the Graduate School for scanning. Beyond the application and application fee, applicants must provide the following: a) a writing sample, b) a statement of goals, c) a statement of experiences, d) transcripts from all previous undergraduate or graduate study, e) GRE scores, and f) three letters of recommendation. International applicants must also provide TOEFL scores and submit all official records in the original language with literal English translations. See the Graduate School web site above for further information. The Graduate School address is:
University of Maryland College Park
Enrollment Services Operations
Application for Graduate Admission
Rm. 0130, Mitchell Building
College Park, MD 20742
What is the deadline for submission?
We admit students once per year, for the following fall semester. For best consideration, the deadline for submission is December 15th.
Will you review an application that is incomplete because it is missing [fill in the blank]?
We will only review complete applications. We will, however, contact you to let you know what we are missing and remind you of the deadline.
What is considered a complete application?
You must send in an application including personal statement and research interests, all transcripts from any institutions of higher learning that you attended, three letters of recommendation with rating sheets, GRE scores and writing sample of approximately 10-15 pages (no partial documents or excerpts please).
NOTE: If you took the GRE prior to the last two years, please submit a copy of your official score report from ETS.
Can I apply directly to the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree or do I need to apply for the MA program?
We do accept students with an undergraduate degree only as well as those with MA degrees. We are looking to admit students who are able to present the strongest applications.
Who should write the letters of recommendation if I am not coming directly from undergrad? Can they only be from professors or can they also come from supervisors?
Every effort should be made to secure letters of recommendation from those who can best address your readiness to undertake graduate study. This may be a combination of both professors and supervisors.
What code do I need to report my scores?
The University of Maryland code is 5814. Our department code is AMST.
Do I need GRE scores? My scores are not very strong.
Although we do take GRE scores into account when we review applications, we don’t put as much weight on them. We have admitted students with Verbal GREs between 280 and 800. But the GRE isn’t an especially good predictor of success in our program. We require it because we cannot award fellowships or GAships to students who have not taken the GRE. From the standpoint of the UMD American Studies Department, you need not place a great deal of emphasis on the quantitative portion of the exam; we do not consider or report that score. We are more interested in the following:
• your personal statement of why you want to study with us
• what you want to study
• your writing sample
• your CV or resume, and
• your letters of recommendation.
NOTE: Applicants with GRE scores that have expired must retake the exam. GRE scores expire after five years.
How long should the writing sample be?
Writing samples should be no longer than 10-15 pages. A writing sample of this length allows for the best review and evaluation of both analytic and theoretical skills.
Should my writing sample be on a specific topic, an example of my creative writing, an old paper from a graduate level course, or a paper written specifically for this application?
The writing sample can be on any topic. It should be well-written and one of which you are particularly proud.
What kind of funding is available and what criteria are most important?
Fellowships are available on a competitive basis. We also offer some 9.5-month assistantships (although additional summer and winter-term teaching also may be available depending upon departmental needs).
Assistantships pay a stipend (stipend amounts are announced upon acceptance to the program), health benefits (medical, dental, and vision), and tuition remission for up to 10 credits per fall and spring semester. Students are financially responsible for books, fees, and other incidental expenses.
Assistantships require 20 hours per week of work in the department, some of which are for teaching positions, although new graduate students are not assigned teaching positions in their first year.
Students may also find assistantships throughout campus and these are constantly announced through our department listserve. The department does not help students secure loans. For additional information on funding, including scholarships and student loans, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid.
Do I have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?
The TOEFL is a requirement for all international students who apply for admission to the Graduate School (except applicants from the United Kingdom, Commonwealth Caribbean, Ireland, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand whose first language is English). Native speakers of English are defined as those who have received all of their education in one of the countries listed above.
Is the TSE (Test of Spoken English) required for international students applying for a teaching assistantship?
Teaching assistantships are available to international students. The Test of Spoken English (TSE), Test of Written English (TWE), and TOEFL are required of all international applicants and you take the TSE once you arrive on campus.
Where can I get more information about applying as an international student?
International applicants should address any questions to International Education Services, 3117 Mitchell Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-5215, USA (301- 314-7740) http://www.international.umd.edu/ies/
How can I find out more about the department and about faculty research interests?
Our Web site lists our core and affiliate faculty as well as their research interests and other information. You will find a link to the Graduate School website where you can access the online application form and information about the Graduate School.
How do I decide between applying to American Studies and another discipline that also holds similar interests for me?
We recommend you make the decision based on which schools accept you and what they have to offer. When in doubt, apply to both.
How many years does it take to complete my PhD?
Everyone’s program will differ as is everyone’s time to finish the degree, especially since we cannot judge the amount of time for research and writing the dissertation. We suggest you estimate about 5-7 years.
What is the job market for Ph.D.’s in AMST and what is your job placement rate?
The job market for our graduate students is varied. In addition to academic careers, our students take jobs at national repositories, archival institutions, historic institutions, research and policy institutes, in the government, and at other non-profit advocacy and funding agencies.
When can I expect to be notified about my status for admission?
The Graduate Studies Committee begins reviewing applications in December. Offers of admission are typically made from January through April. April 15 is the deadline by which admitted students must decline or accept offers unless the admission letter stipulates a later date.
Will a visit to the campus increase the chances for admission?
No. But it is a good idea for prospective students to visit the campus to meet with faculty and graduate students and possibly even sit in on a class. Student visits are always welcome.
If I was not admitted, may I apply again?
If I am not admitted may I still take graduate courses? If so, how can I apply?
Individuals may take graduate courses without admission into the program only by being accepted as an Advanced Special Student by the Graduate School. An Advanced Special Student is a student with no degree objectives. NOTE: Advanced Special Student status does not guarantee later admission into the program. No more than 6 credits may later be transferred to the student’s program upon admission into the program and is contingent upon approval of the student’s advisory committee.
To apply for Advanced Special Student status, complete an application in person or on-line at the Graduate School at https://gradschool.umd.edu/admissions/non-degree-admissions. Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to should discuss their interests with the Graduate Director. Permission of the instructor is required for taking any course.