PhD Certificate in AMCS

a multidisciplinary space of research and practice

The PhD  Graduate Certificate in American Culture Studies allows the doctoral student to develop multidisciplinary expertise beyond their home department.  It also encourages the student to bring that added competence to bear in original, multidisciplinary dissertation research that satisfies the demands of the principal specialty while also charting creative new paths in broad-based scholarship.  This provides the student with added benefits as they undertake innovative research, develop professional skills, and pursue careers inside and outside of academia.

In order to encourage this kind of scholarship, AMCS cultivates a community of graduate students and faculty who share interests in Americanist topics and exchange knowledge, methods, and ideas across departmental bounds.  The links among graduate students across campus, as well as their access to faculty from a variety of disciplines, help to expand the scope of intellectual interaction and to avert the temptation to dwell exclusively in narrow corners of scholarly proficiency.  This kind of community-building promotes the give-and-take of ideas that makes graduate study most stimulating.

Students who satisfy certificate requirements will receive the PhD Graduate Certificate in American Culture Studies along with the award of the PhD.  This is one of several interdisciplinary certificates offered by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, intended as credentials of special competency.  The certificate helps its holders build academic careers, including interdisciplinary teaching and distinctive research profiles.

Certificate Requirements

The Ph.D. Graduate Certificate in American Culture Studies is awarded to students who complete the Ph.D. in a department of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) and who satisfy the following requirements:

  • The core seminar (3 credits), Introduction to American Culture Studies (AMCS 645).
  • Multidisciplinary courses (6 credits): 2 graduate courses on American topics specifically designed in explicitly multidisciplinary terms. Courses satisfying this requirement will be determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
  • Extradepartmental courses (6 credits): 2 graduate courses on American topics that are methodologically substantive and based in fields that complement work in the home department; to be determined in consultation with the DGS.
  • Routine consultation with the AMCS DGS, in addition to the student's principal Ph.D. advisor.
  • Completion of a Ph.D. dissertation in the home department, with the AMCS faculty advisor serving as one of the "outside" readers on the oral-defense committee.

Additionally, Ph.D. Graduate Certificate Students are expected to regularly attend and participate in the monthly Americanist Dinner Fora series, a flagship AMCS event which stages cross-disciplinary conversations among Americanist faculty to probe productive nodes of shared concern. To declare the AMCS Ph.D. Graduate Certificate, please print out or complete the top portion of Graduate School’s Application Form before scheduling a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies. Make sure to keep/make copies as signatures are collected (in case it is misplaced), and once the form is complete, please send it via email to the Graduate School, cc’ing the AMCS and your home department’s admininistrator.

Graduate Program Activities

The graduate program in American Culture Studies invites students to participate in a lively range of academic and public events promoting discussion of, and new research about, issues of American history, economy, society, culture, personality, and politics. These include lectures and workshops offered by distinguished visiting scholars, public figures, and Washington University faculty as well as reading groups and academic conferences in American culture studies that involve graduate students in the wider academic community.

AMCS graduate students attend monthly Americanist Dinner Fora discussions during the academic year, designed to introduce them to faculty across many departments, to visiting speakers, and to research methods and issues of American culture studies as a profession. Two recent dinner fora featured discussions on "Remembering the 1917 East St. Louis Race Massacre" and "The Politics of Clothing: Critical Perspectives on Fashion and Race."

Students are eligible to participate in special academic programs such as the annual summer travel seminar, "On Location: Exploring America."

AMCS PhD Graduate Certificate students have the opportunity to plan and carry out a conference, professional-meeting panel, or other professional event that includes participation of scholars both from within Washington University as well as other schools and institutions. This Professionalization Project is undertaken in collaboration with other AMCS graduate students, and with advice and financial and production support from the AMCS Program.

AMCS PhD Graduate Certificate students may also have the opportunities to participate in Mentored Teaching Experiences in AMCS courses, including – as circumstances allow – the ability to teach their own self-developed course.