Dec 09, 2022  
2022 - 2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022 - 2023 Graduate Catalog

American Studies, Ph.D.

Students may matriculate in the doctoral program after completing a terminal M.A. degree.  These students will take three semesters of course work while preparing for Ph.D. qualifying examinations.  Following completion of these exams, students will complete and defend a dissertation.  Each step involves extensive work with a faculty advisor and committee.

Students should consult the American Studies Graduate Handbook, available at the Program website, for a fuller account of program requirements.

Course Requirements

A total of 36 course credit hours are required, including at least 12 credit hours of AMST 795  .  In addition, 24 credit hours of Dissertation preparation under AMST 800   are required.  The total of 60 credits will be distributed as follows:

  • AMST 661   - Introduction to American Studies (3 credits)
  • AMST 590  , AMST 790  , or AMST 715   - Topics, Seminars, and Directed Research in American Studies (7 courses over three semesters for a total of 21 credits).  Graduate level seminars offered by the Department of History or the Department of Anthropology can substitute for one or more of these courses, with permission from the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • AMST 795   - Directed Ph.D. Research (12 credits)
  • AMST 800   - Dissertation (24 credits)

At least 30 semester credit hours must be earned in courses numbered 600 or above, including 795 and excluding 800.

Language Requirement

Candidates must demonstrate a reading knowledge of a language other than English by the end of the fourth semester of enrollment.  See the American Studies Graduate Handbook for further details of the examination process.

Qualifying Exam Requirement

Between the end of the fourth semester and the end of the fourth week into the fifth semester of enrollment, students will take a qualifying exam that consists of both a written and oral component.  Students will be examined in one Major and one or more Minor Fields. The total number of examinations is usually four, each with a different examiner. Customarily the major field consists of two or three examinations, and the minor field(s) one or two.

Dissertation Requirement

Ph.D. candidates complete a dissertation based upon original research that makes a scholarly contribution to the study of American life.  

Satisfactory Progress

All requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within seven years from the first term of enrollment in the Ph.D. program, excluding periods of approved leave and military service. For a student enrolled in a terminal master’s program in the College of Arts & Sciences who subsequently advances to candidacy in the doctoral program in the same field, the terms of enrollment in the master’s program will count towards the seven-year limit for the doctoral degree unless otherwise stated in the letter of admission to the Ph.D. program. Requests for extension beyond the seven-year limit must be filed following the procedures outlined in Time Limits for Degrees and Extensions in the Graduate Arts & Sciences Catalog.

The American Studies Program also enables students to pursue the Ph.D. on a part time basis. Students may take course work part-time. After their courses are complete, part-time students must also meet the same deadlines as full- time students and have seven years to complete their doctorate after matriculation in the Ph.D. program. 

To be eligible to graduate, students must achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale in courses undertaken for graduate credit at William & Mary after admission to a degree program. A student who receives a grade of C+ (2.3) or lower in a course may repeat that course one time for credit, upon approval of both the instructor of the course and the graduate director for the student’s program. When such a repeat attempt is approved, the grades for both attempts will count in the cumulative GPA, but only the most recent attempt will count toward the degree. No credit toward a degree will be allowed for a course in which a student receives a grade below C (grade point = 2.0).

The department conducts periodic reviews of all students. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress towards their chosen degree(s) or who fail to maintain the grade point average required by the Program (3.3) are subject to dismissal.

Students whose grade point average falls below 3.3 are put on academic probation the following semester. If at the end of the following probationary semester the grade point average remains below 3.3, funded students will lose their funding, and students - funded or not - may be suspended from the Program.

Graduate students in American Studies are expected to finish all courses for which they are registered by the close of each semester in which they are taking these classes.  If, because of illness or other extenuating circumstances, a student must postpone work for a course, they may request a grade of I (incomplete) from the course instructor.   A grade of I will convert to an F at the end of the semester after the class was taken if the postponed work has not been completed. A grade of I may be extended only under extraordinary circumstances and only with the consent of the instructor and the approval of the student’s Director of Graduate Studies and the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies.  For further information on Arts & Sciences policy regarding incomplete grades refer to the Grading and Academic Progress section of the catalog.