We are pleased to announce that The George Washington University Department of American Studies graduate program is now taking applications for fall 2023!

Our program is one of the nation’s leading sites for the interdisciplinary study of culture, power, and identity within and across US borders. We have an outstanding faculty who work closely and intensively with all of our students, while we also take great advantage of Washington, DC, as a location.

We invite you to forward this message to undergraduate or graduate students who would be interested in applying for the MA or PhD in American Studies from GW.

The intellectual life of the American Studies department at GW is both broad and deep. The faculty in our program are a diverse group, but our overall strengths cohere around the following topics: cultural history and cultural/political theory; African American and black history/culture; sexuality and gender studies; media and popular culture; urban studies; histories of capitalism; histories of the US in the World; and migration and ethnicity. Most of our faculty members cross several of these fields and many of us have a transnational focus in our scholarship. Please take a look at the faculty profiles on our webpage.

We draw on the many resources of Washington, DC as a location, with connections to the Smithsonian Institution, research opportunities at the National Archives, and the opportunity to engage with cultural and political organizations across the city. Our students often work at local cultural institutions such as the National Building Museum, the Phillips Collection, and National Geographic.

Our program includes both MA and PhD students. Because we are so interdisciplinary, we accept students from diverse backgrounds. Students certainly don’t need a previous degree in American Studies to be welcomed into the program; we have students from many different disciplines and experiences. In other words, what matters is an interest in pursuing your intellectual passions through the rich rubric that American Studies offers.

Our students generally work in one or more of our several areas of specialization, utilizing our resources to develop unique and distinctive research agendas. In the last few years, our students have worked on an impressive array of topics, including the politics of race and security, speculative fiction and the environment, connections between Puerto Rican and Palestinian activists, the global history of concrete, the transnational history of the Interior department, diasporic Black writers in Europe, the history of the internet, and the performances of trans* people of color. What these diverse projects have in common is their commitment to rigorous interdisciplinary investigation undertaken with the support of our committed faculty.

Our PhD graduates have a remarkable track record, and we are proud to see them work in education and public life in and around the country. They are professors at major research universities such as MIT, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Arkansas, and also at small liberal arts colleges. They are also curators—three of our PhD graduates work at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and others are in important museum positions around the country. Others do work in research and public history at non-profits or publish as independent scholars. We train students from Day One to consider the multiple and creative possibilities for careers with a PhD in hand. Our PhD packages are quite competitive.

  • All of our PhD students have fully funded stipends and tuition remission for five years.
  • One year of dissertation fellowship with no teaching or RA responsibilities.
  • Additional summer funding for most students plus research-specific travel grants.
  • A number of students have won outside funding for dissertation research, and we have a remarkable placement history for postdocs, tenure-track academic jobs, and excellent public culture positions.

MA students take classes, including Scope and Methods in American Studies and one major research seminar. They can and do take courses across the university, combining American Studies with museum studies, public history, art history, international affairs, or public health. They have gone on to work in a variety of jobs in museums, journalism, non-profits, and teaching. A good number have continued their studies at other highly respected PhD programs. We welcome international students and students from a wide variety of backgrounds to join us in the interdisciplinary study of the US and its role in the world.

If you have questions about our graduate program, please email AMSTDGS@gwu.edu. We’d be happy to answer your questions, and we look forward to seeing applications. PhD applications are due December 15th, with more information here. MA applications are due April 1. We are also happy to connect you with current students for more information. You can also apply now.