Professor James Deutsch discussing american literature with a class inside a room with a giraffe and colorful painting in the back


The American Studies graduate program emphasizes interdisciplinary cultural analysis with approaches from anthropology, architectural history, art history, language, geography, media studies, history, performance studies and political theory. Master’s students can pursue a general Master of Arts in American Studies or an MA with a concentration in museums and material culture. Doctoral students construct a comprehensive plan of study tailored to their area of interest and develop research agendas through seminars and workshops.

Both degrees draw on the rich resources of Washington, D.C.-based archives and research institutes to enhance learning and promote hands-on experience. Students might attend a weekly seminar at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage or excavate an archaeological site in Old Town Alexandria.

Our graduate programs emphasize professional-level research and writing skills, and many of our students win awards and publish their research.



Degree Programs 


Renee Scott, MA '19

Renee Scott

MA '19

"My research will allow me to play a role in revising K–12 curricula to include the history, experiences and perspectives of Black Americans so that young Black children can see themselves in their education."

PhD Alumni Bring History to Life

While collecting exhibit items for the African American museum, Curator Paul Gardullo, PhD ’06, flew a Tuskegee Airmen plane.

Smithsonian Curators Tell the Story of Black Life in America

Among the 38,000 items on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the one that never fails to make Museum Specialist Kevin Strait, PhD ’10, smile is the one that almost didn’t make it there: Chuck Berry’s Cadillac. Strait is one of several Department of American Studies alumni serving as curators, designers and specialists at the museum.