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Program Overview

Ph.D. in American Culture

The American Culture (AC) doctoral program is designed as a flexible, rigorous, interdisciplinary graduate studies curriculum. Students develop knowledge of both the field of American studies and of the contributing disciplinary fields. The doctoral program faculty perspectives and their courses offer the students a balanced approach to specific populations, periods, and disciplines; they also provide them with tools to embrace and engage with integrative, intercultural perspectives on scholarly praxis. Similarly, scholars in the AC doctoral program learn both the basic conceptual and methodological foundations and the intellectual history of the disciplines, and challenge the limits of those knowledge-producing tools while attending to social institutions and the politics of representation. The AC graduate curriculum tries to strike a balance between rigorous faculty guidance of students and a strong commitment to the new perspectives and originality brought into AC by students who represent the future of the field. We also aid students in developing and honing the skills necessary to their future academic careers, such as writing, public speaking, innovative pedagogy in the undergraduate classroom, and administrative service.

Financial Aid

The American Culture doctoral program provides assistance to all admitted students for the full 5 years of their study. We offer students a combination of fellowships and teaching assistantships that include tuition remission, a stipend, and eligibility to participate in the University's health benefits program. Fellowship grants are awarded on the basis of academic achievement and the admission committee's expectations of student success in our program. The department also offers Rackham Merit Fellowships to students from culturally, geographically, or educationally underrepresented groups in our discipline or at the University.

For more on funding your graduate education, please visit the Rackham Graduate School.

Curriculum and Program Requirements

Our curriculum provides a solid foundation in American studies and contributing disciplinary fields, while also permitting students to design a highly individualized program of study tailored to fit their needs and interests.

The Ph.D. curriculum is designed as a five-year program, although some students take slightly longer.

Course Work

Required coursework is concentrated in the student’s first two years, and additional courses can be taken beyond the second year.

Students are required to take two courses in their first year—AMCULT 697 and AMCULT 698. This proseminar series introduces students to both the literature and history of American studies as an interdiscipline and to the research methodologies of the field.

Students are also required to take one interdisciplinary course and two cross-cultural courses during their first two years of coursework.

Finally, on completion of their doctoral exams, students are required to take AMCULT 850—an advanced research colloquium. In this course, students will produce their dissertation prospectus and begin their dissertation research.

Preparation for the Future

U-M is known across the world for the research conducted by its faculty and students, so students in American Culture at U-M enjoy a wide variety of opportunities to engage in research. In addition to working with the faculty in American Culture, students in the doctoral program also collaborate with faculty in other departments across campus. The Department and the broader U-M community provide a variety of opportunities for graduate students to teach and to refine their skills in the classroom through workshops and seminars. Students also have access to a variety of offices on campus designed to improve their teaching and understanding of pedagogy. These include: the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, the Sweetland Center for Writing, and the English Language Institute.

This combined emphasis on and experience with research and teaching has helped place our graduates in colleges and universities in the U.S., including the University of California System, University of Colorado, University of Indiana, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, University of Texas-Austin, Texas A&M, Williams College, and the University of Wisconsin.