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Folklore and American Studies: MA, MS

Folklore and American Studies

The Folklore and American studies program at Utah State University offers students the opportunity to explore American life and cultures from interdisciplinary perspectives. The program's interdisciplinary structure provides students an opportunity to integrate studies in various fields into a broad understanding of American culture and its antecedents. With special strengths in the American West, Canadian and Mexican borderlands, American history, literature, and folklore, as well as creative nonfiction and studies in visual culture and the environment, the Folklore and American studies program allows students to forge an individualized plan of coursework that crosses both geographical and intellectual boundaries. By equipping students to analyze and synthesize a broad range of cultural expressions, an American studies degree will lay the groundwork for careers in academic or professional fields. The MA degree requires students to gain proficiency in one or more foreign languages. The MS degree is identical except that it does not require foreign language study.


  • Folklore: Folklore students study all forms of vernacular folk culture. Folklore classes cover traditions from all over the world and include such topics as folktales, urban legends, personal experience narratives, children’s folklore, folk art, graffiti, the supernatural, etc. The program allows students to choose between two concentrations within the folklore specialization: academic and public folklore. The academic folklore concentration prepares students for teaching and researching. The public folklore concentration prepares them for jobs in government, arts administration, and museum management.

Graduates in American studies can work in a wide variety of areas, including:

  • Art and history museums
  • State humanities commissions
  • Teaching at junior colleges
  • Journalism
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • State and national park services

Graduates also commonly continue on to law school to obtain careers in government and law, or doctoral programs to pursue careers in research, teaching, and academia.

Admission Requirements

Folklore and American Studies is an interdisciplinary program, therefore applicants are welcome from various undergraduate backgrounds.

Application Requirements:

  • Fill out the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Standardized tests are NOT required for this application
  • Provide a copy of your transcript
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • Submit a portfolio of writing materials with the following components:

1) Statement of intent: Applicants must submit a statement of intent that explains their reasons for seeking a master's degree in "Folklore and American Studies" at Utah State University. This statement should briefly describe their previous academic work, identifying central themes, areas of interest, and skills acquired, and applicants should explain how these prior academic experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter a graduate program in "Folklore and American Studies." The statement of intent may also address any relevant professional experiences and explain how such experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter this graduate program. Within this statement of intent, applicants should identify some of the specific topics or disciplinary areas they would like to focus on for their graduate work. Applicants should also make an effort to show that they are familiar with the specific requirements and features of the "Folklore and American Studies " program at USU.

Note: For the statement of intent, applicants may focus their attention primarily on how their prior experiences have prepared them specifically for one field within this program (Folklore or American Studies), although they must also make some effort to address how their interests will be informed by exposure to the other field in the course of their graduate study.

2) Preface to Writing Sample: Applicants should write a one-paragraph preface for their writing sample that explains the following:

a) Context: Applicants must explain when they wrote this writing sample and for what purpose. Who was the original audience? And what were the original goals for this piece of writing?

b) Relationship to Folklore and/or American Studies: Applicants must explain how this writing sample demonstrates knowledge and skills that are applicable to the fields of Folklore and/or American Studies.

3) Writing Sample: Applicants must submit a 10-25 page sample of academic writing which demonstrates that they are ready to write at the level expected for graduate seminar assignments. Ideally, this writing sample should focus on a topic related to Folklore or American Studies and demonstrate the applicants' critical thinking skills, research skills, and strengths as a writer.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

The department has the following deadline:

  • January 15
  • The department will continue to review applications submitted after that date, but chances of acceptance and financial assistance are better for students who apply earlier.

Program Requirements

Students may have an opportunity to complete an internship for credit, but an internship is not required.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MS or MA by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete 24 credits of graduate coursework and write a six-credit thesis, with an oral defense meeting.
  • In the Plan B option, students complete 27 credits of graduate coursework and write a three-credit paper or creative project, with an oral defense meeting.

Financial Assistance

Students can apply to become graduate instructors. Graduate instructors teach English 1010 and English 2010, general education courses that all USU undergraduates are required to take. Students who are graduate instructors might also receive tuition awards through the School of Graduate Studies, as well as subsidized health insurance, in addition to the following salaries:

  • First-year GIs in the English Department are currently paid $2,251 per class. Since most teach two classes in fall and another two in spring, this works out as a typical annual salary of $9,004.
  • Second-year GIs are currently paid $2,545 per class, which works out as a typical annual salary of $10,180.

Additionally, the cost of living in Logan, Utah, is about 12% lower than the national average.

To be considered, students must submit their graduate school applications early and submit a specific application to be a graduate instructor, as well as a letter of interest and a resume, by January 15 to Dr. Keith Grant-Davie, director of graduate studies for the English Department.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Paul Crumbley, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Department: English Department
Area: American literature, poetry, women writers
Office: RWST 420 C
Phone: (435) 797-3860

Lawrence Culver, PhD, University of California - Los Angeles
Associate Professor
Department: History Department
Area: U.S. southwest borderlands, U.S. West, cultural, environmental, and urban history
Office: MAIN 321 H
Phone: (435) 797-3101

Evelyn Funda, PhD, University of Nebraska
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: American literature, Western American literature
Office: RWST 312 E
Phone: (435) 797-3653

Lisa Gabbert, PhD, Indiana University
Associate Professor, Director of Folklore Studies
Area: Folklore
Office: RWST 204 C
Phone: (435) 797-2721

Patricia Gantt, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Department: English Department
Area: English education, folklore
Office: RWST 305
Phone: (435) 797-2718

Shane Graham, PhD, University of Indiana
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: World literature, especially African, Caribbean, Black British, and Ethnic American literature; critical theory
Office: RWST 301 B
Phone: (435) 797-2719

Melody Graulich, PhD, University of Virginia
Professor, American Studies Graduate Director
Department: English Department
Area: American studies, American West
Office: RWST 211 B
Phone: (435) 797-3855

Victoria Grieve, PhD, George Washington University
Associate Professor, graduate advisor
Department: History Department
Area: Modern American cultural and intellectual history, art and culture of the West
Office: MAIN 321
Phone: (435) 797-0145

Kerin Holt, PhD, Brown University
Assistant Professor, Director of American Studies
Department: English Department
Area: Early American literature, regionalism, transnational studies, borderlands
Office: RWST 204 E
Phone: (435) 797-8946

David Rich Lewis, PhD, University of Wisconsin
Department: History Department
Area: American Indian, environmental, and Utah history
Office: MAIN 321 F
Phone: (435) 797-1299

Daniel McInerney, PhD, Purdue University
Department: History Department
Area: American intellectual history, 19th century United States
Office: MAIN 323 H
Phone: (435) 797-1283

Colleen O’Neill, PhD, Rutgers University
Associate Professor
Department: History Department
Area: American West, American Indian, labor, ethnic, women and gender
Office: MAIN 321 E
Phone: (435) 797-1297

Steven Shively, PhD, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Teacher education, American literature, multicultural literature
Office: RWST 204 F
Phone: (435) 797-0325

Jennifer Sinor, PhD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Creative writing, memoir, teaching writing
Office: RWST 302 B
Phone: (435) 797-3440

Steve Siporin, PhD, Indiana University
Department: English Department
Area: Folk narrative, material culture, Jewish folklore, fieldwork
Office: RWST 204 B
Phone: (435) 797-2722

Michael Sowder, PhD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Poetry, creative writing, American literature
Office: RWST 301 A
Phone: (435) 797-7100

Jeanie Thomas, PhD, University of Oregon
Department Head of English
Department: English Department
Area: Legend, the supernatural, material culture, folklore theory
Office: RWST 201
Phone: (435) 797-2733

Charles Waugh, PhD, University of Denver
Assistant Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Fiction writing, studies in fiction, American culture and environment
Office: RWST 302 C
Phone: (435) 797-3481

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

Student Association for Graduates of English: SAGE is a graduate student association. Students meet and hold workshops on various subjects, namely how to present at conferences and information on PhD programs.

Labs, Centers, Research

Fife Folklore Archives: The Fife Folklore Archives is one of the largest repositories of American folklore in the United States. The FFA is part of Utah State University's Special Collections and Archives, where the historical American Folklore Society Manuscript Collection is housed.

Learning Suite: The Learning Suite is comprised of two student computer labs: the Teaching Lab and the Open-Access Lab. The Learning Suite strives to foster an environment where communication can develop between students, instructors, and their audiences. It supports communication as any expression through the medians of written text, graphics, sound, and still and moving images, and updates its technology to provide as much support as possible for these forms of communication.



Academic Advising

Kerin Holt
Assistant Professor, Director of American Studies
Office: RWST 204 E
Phone: (435) 797-8946

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