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?
The American Culture Studies graduate program provides the training, 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 participate in a multidisciplinary scholarly community. Part of the excitement of this kind of learning is the opportunity to engage in creative or 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.
required course work
- Humanities – two courses from literature, history, religion or philosophy;
- Social Sciences – two courses from anthropology, education, economics or political science;
- Arts – two courses from music, art history or theater/film;
- Nine additional credits from course work on American culture.
Introduction to American Culture Studies (U89 445) is recommended for all students. Remaining electives are drawn from course work in different aspects of American culture.
At least five courses must be core seminars based in American Culture Studies. 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.
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.
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:
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.
Applicants should have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0.
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.
Students must be at least two years beyond their baccalaureate degree.
The online application is available online on our Apply page. Applications are ready for review when all fields on the application form are completed, required documents have been received, and the application fee is paid.
Contact the registrar at each previous college or university attended to request an official transcript. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar to University College.
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? What do we need to know when considering your application?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, official TOEFL scores must be forwarded to University College.
Graduates of a U.S. university or college or Canada, Australia, and U.K. residents are exempt if they have earned a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree from such college or university.
You may pay by credit card online, or via check or money order payable to Washington University in St. Louis. You may also pay the fee by cash at the University College office.
This fee is waived for all WashU staff.
Letters of recommendation should be completed by teachers or professional associates. They can be submitted as part of your online application or mailed to University College.
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.