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Master of Arts in American Culture Studies

The Master of Arts in American Culture Studies addresses the intellectual and moral questions of American identity and belonging that no single disciplinary perspective can comprehensively and satisfyingly resolve. What does it mean to live and work in an American culture devoted to individual success and autonomy and at the same time be a citizen of a nation devoted to collective needs and well-being?

Program Objectives

The American Culture Studies graduate program provides the instruction, both in specific disciplines and in cross-disciplinary conversations, to help you answer important questions about American society. It also introduces some of the social, political, and cultural issues that have shaped American culture and identity. Most fundamentally, it provides a critical skill set that fosters analysis of an array of cultural objects — a place, an event, a work of art, a political institution — from a rich and diverse foundation of knowledge and perspectives.

Your studies culminate in a self-directed project that allows you both to explore an area of personal interest and to participate in a multidisciplinary scholarly community. Part of the excitement of this kind of learning is the opportunity to engage in creative, rigorous exchange with the faculty in the humanities and social sciences at WUSTL, and with leading practitioners in the St. Louis professional and policy world.

Studies may span American literature, history, politics, religion, philosophy, art, music, and film.

Who Should Apply?

The American Culture Studies program attracts students from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, including humanities and social science fields as well as education, public history, nonprofit management, business, and journalism.

Applicants returning to formal academic study after a number of years’ absence must have an appropriate undergraduate background, and strong writing and analytical skills.

Admission Requirements

American Culture Studies courses normally are offered once a week in the late afternoon or evening. Students may start the program in the fall, spring or summer terms. Admission to the American Culture Studies graduate program is open on a selective basis to:

Transferring Credit

A maximum of six units of related, comparable graduate-level course work may be transferred from another university or from a related graduate program at Washington University with the approval of the program director. These must be graduate-level units not used to fulfill undergraduate degree requirements. Transfer credit may be granted only for authorized courses for which the student received a grade of B or higher. 

A Minimum Cumulative GPA of 3.0

Applicants should have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0.

Strong Undergraduate Background

Applicants who are returning to formal academic study after a number of years' absence must have a strong undergraduate background in one of the disciplines represented in the American Culture Studies program, strong writing and analytical skills, and a clear understanding of their reasons for pursuing this degree.

Application Requirements

Application Deadlines

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis and typically take four to six weeks. An application is incomplete and will not be reviewed until all of the application requirements have been received or processed. Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by the following dates:

  • SPRING 2022: DEC. 31, 2021
  • SUMMER 2022: APRIL 30, 2022
  • FALL 2022: JULY 31, 2022
Completed application form

The online application is available online on our Apply page. Applications are ready for review when all fields on the application form are completed and the required documents have been received.

Official transcripts from all previous college work

Transcript from the institution where you received your bachelor's degree or a higher-level degree was conferred. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar to University College. Electronic transcripts should be forwarded to ucollege@wustl.edu. For transcript questions, please contact our Admissions Coordinator, Patricia Agnew, at paagnew@wustl.edu.

Non-United States course work transcript verification
If the transcript you submit for consideration is from a college or university outside the United States, a course by course transcript evaluation is also required. Evaluations will be accepted from World Education Services (WES), Spantran or another member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). For Spantran evaluations, you must use this form


Personal Essay

Tell us about yourself in a brief essay (about 250 words). Why are you applying to University College? What are your goals, both academic and professional? Is there additional information we should know about you when considering your application?

TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable)

All international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores at the time of application. The TOEFL, IELTS and Duolingo requirement may be waived for applicants who, immediately prior to their application for admission, have done both of the following:

  • Lived for three years or longer in the United States or another country where English is the primary language of daily life (e.g. Canada or United Kingdom).
  • Completed three or more years of study at a college or university which is located in that country and where the language of instruction is English.

This policy applies to all international students, even those who have earned a degree from a United States college or university.

If an applicant moves away from an English-speaking country after living and studying there for three years or more, TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores are then required for admission. 

Changes to the English Language Proficiency Requirements (2022–23)

Starting January 1, 2022, University College will cease using the temporary testing options that the University added in 2020. The TOEFL ITP Plus and the TOEFL iBT Home, will no longer be accepted. The traditional TOEFL and IELTS exams will continue to be accepted. Also, the Duolingo exam will be accepted as an official option.

For international student application deadlines and fees, please click HERE.

Additional TOEFL and IELTS information for international students adversely affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on University College’s International Student Information webpage.

Three Letters of Recommendation

A college instructor or professional associate should complete letters of recommendation. If an instructor cannot be contacted, applicants may submit a waiver request to provide three professional recommendations. Letters can be submitted through the online application or mailed by the recommender.

Writing Sample

Please submit a writing sample that is research-based if possible. If not, please submit a sample that discusses your motivations for continuing your education, and why this program interests you.

Enrolling in University College

We are here for you, every step of the way. Getting started at University College is easy.


Step 1Meet with an Advisor
Schedule an appointment with an advisor online.

Step 2Start Your Application
Applying is easy, and our advisors are here to help you find the path that fits your needs. Apply Today!

Step 3Plan Ahead
Explore ways that can help you afford your education such as tuition payment methods, scholarships and financial aid.  


Take a course today. Apply later.

At University College, students can take courses without applying to a degree program. If you are interested in taking a class to get to know University College, to fulfill credits, for professional development, or to follow a passion, the non-degree option is for you. Learn more.

Our advisors go the extra mile to help you navigate your path and needs. We will provide you with the tools to make each moment spent on your education as valuable as possible. Students will receive:

  • individual appointments with an experienced advisor;
  • career planning services to prepare you for opportunities after graduation;
  • a partner throughout your journey to ensure success.



Student advising is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.


Schedule an appointment

Home-based courses in American Culture Studies generally cover material from a range of disciplinary fields and areas. The category of a particular course is determined by the discipline that is most heavily weighted in the class and/or by the nature of the core questions around which the course revolves. The distribution of each home-based course will be noted in its description. The Master of Arts in American Culture Studies degree requires a total of 30 units.



Choose six units from each of the following distribution areas:

  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Arts



  • Introduction to American Culture Studies (U89 445) is recommended for all students.
  • Choose additional courses from any distribution area.

Students may, with permission, count a limited number of graduate-level courses from related departments toward their degree.



Among the required and elective seminars, some will be noted as “writing intensive” and “research methods.” These courses are intended to hone graduate-level writing and research techniques, preparing students for their final written projects. Students are required to complete at least one writing intensive course and one research methods course.



All students are required to complete a final written project. Normally completed during the final semester of the program (or, in some cases, the final year), the project entails substantial research and analysis on a topic determined by the student in consultation with the program coordinator.

Learn more about the American Culture Studies final written project.

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