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American Studies

Master of Arts in American Studies

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American Studies is the systematic study of the American experience as revealed in its history, politics, literature, social sciences, philosophy, religions, and visual and performing arts.

American Studies at New England College offers the opportunity for an interdisciplinary examination of American life and culture. Within broadly defined subject areas, students develop an area of concentration: a discipline, a period or problem based, and draw on appropriate resources for an integrated and personalized program of study. Because of the diverse nature of individual student programs, the American studies program emphasizes close personal faculty attention to each student’s program of study. Each course strives to achieve an interdisciplinary integration of materials and approaches. Courses cover a broad range of subjects, time periods, and disciplines.

This program begins with a core introductory course that provides a general introduction to the methods and content in the field of American Studies. Each student will work with her/his faculty advisor to develop a course of study which best meets his or her intellectual and career goals. The built-in flexibility of the curriculum allows each student to specialize in a particular area or pursue a more generalized view of the American experience. To complete the degree, each student will select a topic of interest for his or her capstone independent project.

The Program

To earn the M.A. degree in American Studies/Civilization, students must complete 36 credits with a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0. The curriculum has three components: 

I. Required Course: 4 Credits

* Introduction to American Studies

II. Elective Courses: 28 Credits

In consultation with her/his faculty advisor, each student will design an individualized program of study drawn from electives across the disciplines. Students seeking a concentration in a particular area will choose a minimum of 16 credits within one of the subject areas.

Electives include courses from the following areas: 

American History * American Literature * Archaeology * Art History * Business * Philosophy * Politics * Sociology & Anthropology * Visual and Performing Arts

III. Independent Capstone Project: 4 Credits

In collaboration with his/her faculty advisor, each student will choose a topic to explore in depth and provide an abstract of the project and bibliography which must then be approved by a faculty committee. The student will then write an independent research paper under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member. While this is the normal mode of fulfilling the capstone requirement, alternative proposals will be considered.

Note: Introduction to American Studies is the only wholly new/created course for this program and could be taught from the perspective of any of the Humanities/Social Science disciplines.  It combines a methodology/research component with a cross-disciplinary survey of topics in American culture, largely dependent on the instructor in terms of content.

Courses for spring 2014

AS 6010 Introduction to American Studies*
SO 3750 Non-Profit Organizations
PO 3120 Congress & Legislative Process
PO 3450 U.S. Foreign Policy
HS 3030 Revolutionary America
ES 3250 Principles of Environmental Policy & Sustainability
CO 3320 History/Criticism of Advertising
CO 3410 Freedom of Speech
CO 3990 Communication & Pop Music
AR 3250 20th Century Art 

Course descriptions:

AMS 6010 Intro to American Studies

This course is designed to introduce first-year graduate students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. We will explore various themes and debates in the field and begin the process of articulating an interdisciplinary approach to a subject of scholarly interest that each student will develop into a capstone project.

Students explore fundamental questions that shape the field of American Studies including:

What ideological assumptions are embedded in American Studies as a field? What are some of the challenges, problems, and opportunities inherent in doing interdisciplinary studies? What is “American Exceptionalism,” and how do we explain its persistence in the American imagination? How does the idea of “America” impact the development of the non-U.S. world? Have economic globalism and America’s imperial power shaped the meaning of American Studies?

The course is reading intensive and demanding. All students will begin a portfolio of work that extends for the balance of the program and will be assessed in conjunction with the capstone project.

AMS 6976  Independent Capstone Project

This is the culmination of the American Studies program. Each student will, early in his or her program, identify a topic of interest. Using the program portfolio originated in the Introduction to American Studies, and the guidance of a faculty mentor, the student will develop the topic into an original research paper (thesis) or, with approval, other appropriate product using the interdisciplinary methods and materials learned through the program. In the student’s final term, the completed ICP will be presented in a public forum.


New England College
School of Graduate and Professional Studies
98 Bridge Street
Henniker, NH 03242