American Studies: MA, MS
The 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 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.
Students must choose a specialization.
- Standard American Studies: Standard American studies students take courses in American literature, American history, and American civilizations with a focus on literary, social, and philosophical themes related to American culture. Students can also choose to focus on creative nonfiction about the American West.
- 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
- 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.
American studies is an interdisciplinary program, therefore applicants are welcome from various undergraduate backgrounds. The department does, however, prefer students to have undergraduate experience in literature courses.
- Complete the online application
- Pay the $55 application fee
- Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE or MAT
- Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
- Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
- Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
- Submit writing samples to the English Department. Students may submit more than one sample, each sample must have an introductory paragraph or preface, and the writing sample must equal at least 10 pages in total of academic writing.
International students have additional admissions requirements.
The department has the following deadlines:
- Fall semester – January 15
- Spring semester – November 15
- The department will continue to review applications submitted after these dates, but chances of acceptance and financial assistance are better for students who apply earlier.
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.
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.
Paul Crumbley, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Area: American literature, poetry, women writers
Office: RWST 420 C
Phone: (435) 797-3860
Lawrence Culver, PhD, University of California - Los Angeles
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
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
Office: RWST 204 C
Phone: (435) 797-2721
Patricia Gantt, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Area: English education, folklore
Office: RWST 305
Phone: (435) 797-2718
Shane Graham, PhD, University of Indiana
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
Area: American studies, American West
Office: RWST 211 B
Phone: (435) 797-3855
Victoria Grieve, PhD, George Washington University
Associate Professor, graduate advisor
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
Area: Early American literature, regionalism, transnational studies, borderlands
Office: RWST 204 E
Phone: (435) 797-8946
David Rich Lewis, PhD, University of Wisconsin
Area: American Indian, environmental, and Utah history
Office: MAIN 321 F
Phone: (435) 797-1299
Daniel McInerney, PhD, Purdue University
Area: American intellectual history, 19th century United States
Office: MAIN 323 H
Phone: (435) 797-1283
Colleen O’Neill, PhD, Rutgers University
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
Area: Teacher education, American literature, multicultural literature
Office: RWST 204 F
Phone: (435) 797-0325
Jennifer Sinor, PhD, University of Michigan
Area: Creative writing, memoir, teaching writing
Office: RWST 302 B
Phone: (435) 797-3440
Steve Siporin, PhD, Indiana University
Area: Folk narrative, material culture, Jewish folklore, fieldwork
Office: RWST 204 B
Phone: (435) 797-2722
Michael Sowder, PhD, University of Michigan
Area: Poetry, creative writing, American literature
Office: RWST 301 A
Phone: (435) 797-7100
Jeanie Thomas, PhD, University of Oregon
Department Head of English
Area: Legend, the supernatural, material culture, folklore theory
Office: RWST 201
Phone: (435) 797-2733
Charles Waugh, PhD, University of Denver
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.