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American Studies

College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Study

The American Studies M.A. candidate pursues a curriculum which may include courses from a variety of disciplines but which centers upon the American experience. Each student develops an interdisciplinary concentration founded in American Studies coursework and incorporating related fields and disciplines such as environment and natural resources, Chicano, Native American and African American Studies, literature, history, anthropology, geography, art, and political science. With the help of a faculty advisor, each student shapes a program of study that reflects his or her background, interests, and career aspirations through a coherent investigation of an aspect of American life and thought.

The M. A. in American Studies offers each student the opportunity to establish a professional identity and assemble a portfolio of accomplishments at the post-baccalaureate level. For many students this means concentrating on an interdisciplinary approach to cultural analysis that will serve as a transition to study at the Ph.D. level. For some, a public sector emphasis, including field courses, internships, and grant-sponsored activities lead to a career in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and publicly-sponsored cultural institutions. For a few, examining American culture from an international perspective can lead to a career outside the United States. Teachers, or teachers-in-training, have found a diverse, American Studies curriculum to be a way to enrich their understanding of American culture and thus augmenting and sharpening their teaching skills. 

The historic preservation emphasis, which involves studio courses and field experience, combines cultural studies and technical knowledge of the built environment. Previously historic preservation has been the domain of departments such as history or architecture, however in an American Studies context a greater humanistic view of preservation is emphasized. Historic preservation students should prepare themselves with work in history of American architecture. Students applying to the historic preservation track may be able to enter under the auspices of the Western Regional Graduate Program. For eligibility, please contact the American Studies Office or call 307-766-3898.

Graduate Student Opportunities

The American Studies offers access to archival resources, community programs, and ongoing field projects which, in many cases, result in thesis proposals or important elements of a graduate student portfolio. International exchanges are available for those who wish to broaden their view of American culture; international exchange students bring external perspectives to our community at Wyoming. Finally, American Studies sponsors internship experiences that support the public sector mission of the Program and extend knowledge gained in the classroom to sites in the culture of the region.

Graduate Student Funding

Most American Studies students receive funding from the Program during their programs of study, including Graduate Assistantships and support for specific purposes. For details see Financial Support.

Historic Preservation Emphasis

The historic preservation emphasis, involving studio courses and field experiences in additional to traditional academic coursework, combines cultural studies and technical knowledge of the built environment. Previously historic preservation has been the domain of departments such as history or architecture, however the American Studies context emphasizes a more humanistic view of preservation. Therefore, coursework is complemented by participation in survey work and the historic site nomination process, including working with sponsors, speaking with property owners, and conducting public meetings.  Students applying to the historic preservation track may be able to enter under the auspices of the Western Regional Graduate Program. For eligibility, please contact the American Studies Office.

Wyoming Fellowships

At the time of acceptance to the Program or during the first semester of the program of study, a graduate student who has a strong commitment to public sector work may apply for the Wyoming Fellowship.  Each Wyoming Fellow will receive a paid, two-month internship during the course of study (usually in the summer after the first year of fulltime enrollment).  A Wyoming Fellow is expected to include at least two field- or public-oriented courses in the course of study and attend appropriate workshops, symposia, and site visits sponsored by the Program.  Wyoming Fellows are eligible to participate in grants, contracts, and special projects sponsored by Program faculty or professional staff (see Recent American Studies Projects in Wyoming.  Each Wyoming Fellow will be assigned a public sector mentor in addition to the academic advisor.

Final Projects

In consultation with a Graduate Committee each student completes either an extended writing project (Plan A, thesis option) or an extended essay, augmented by a reading list and an examination (Plan B, non-thesis option). Each student makes a public presentation based on this final project. In addition, each student writes a position paper that places the student’s interests within the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. 

Thesis Plans

At the time of the thesis defense (Plan A) or the oral examination (Plan B), each M.A. candidate must present a brief position paper which outlines the student's research interests within the interdisciplinary field.

  • Master of Arts, Plan A requires 26 hours plus thesis. If the student elects Plan A (an appropriate choice if the ultimate goal is a doctorate), the thesis may rely on one of the traditional disciplines but should contain an interdisciplinary perspective which integrates the topic into the stream of American culture.
  • Master of Arts, Plan B requires 30 hours, no thesis. If the student follows Plan B, s/he is expected to present to the examining committee a seminar paper or papers of publishable caliber, more limited in scope than the thesis but of equal rigor in conception and execution. The student will complete a written examination based on a reading list, the composition of which will be agreed on by the student and his or her graduate committee. The written examination, the position paper and the Plan B paper will then be the subject of an oral defense.

Our exchange partner institutions (follow the links to their American Studies Programs):

University of Utrecht (NL)

University of Nijmegen (NL)

Southern Denmark University (DK)

University of Regensburg (DE)

University of Birmingham (UK)


Course of Study

For more information, please visit the University of Wyoming's Graduate education website.

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American Studies

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1000 E. University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766 3898

Fax: (307) 766 3700


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