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American Studies Graduate Program

Ordinarily, students are admitted into the department for entrance in the upcoming fall semester. (Except in unusual circumstances, students applying after May 1 will be considered for admission for fall of the following academic year.) To be eligible for most KU fellowships, awards, and assistantships, applications must be received by December 1. Students who wish to be considered for specific awards, fellowships, or assistantships should indicate their interest in a short cover letter accompanying the application. The final deadline for fall admission is May 1. However, applications received by December 1 will receive priority.

Completion of a bachelor’s degree is required of all applicants. Preference may be granted to students who hold a master's degree in American Studies or a related field. Admission is based primarily on the applicant’s statement of academic objectives, record of prior studies at the undergraduate or graduate level, and references from persons familiar with the applicant’s work. Evidence of preparation for graduate study may include substantial work in American Studies or related fields, such as American history, literature, art, media, sociology, anthropology, political science, journalism, or interdisciplinary studies.

Required Application Materials

  • A completed application form and non-refundable application fee submitted online to Graduate Studies.  The application fee - $65 for domestic applicants, $85 for international applicants - is paid via secure server.
  • One official transcript from each college and post-secondary institution you have attended (whether you earned a degree or not).  Official (sealed) transcripts from your institution(s) should be sent directly to KU:

Graduate Admissions
213 Strong Hall
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-7535

  • A statement of academic objectives describing your intellectual development, previous academic training, and areas of academic interest. (The quality of this statement is an especially important factor in the decision of our admissions committee - please limit to 2 pages).
  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae (C.V) summarizing your academic background and relevant work experience.
  • Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with your academic abilities, potential, and preparation for graduate study (submitted via the recommendation section of the online application).
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.  Although the online application will ask you to self-report your scores, official scores must also be sent directly from GRE.  KU's University code is 6871.
  • A sample of your written academic work.  This should be a research paper or article of no more than 35 pages that represents the student's best work to date.  Students who have completed a thesis may submit the introduction.

International students also need to submit:

1.  Proof of English proficiency:

  • Official scores (not student's copy) from an English proficiency standardized test (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS-Academic, or PTE), sent by the testing agency to the University of Kansas. Official scores must be less than two years old.  See the English Proficiency Chart on the Graduate Studies Admissions website for more information regarding minimum English proficiency scores.


  • Graduation with a baccalaureate degree (or higher) earned in residence from an accredited English-medium U.S. college or university or a college or university in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, English-speaking province of Canada, or an English-speaking Caribbean country, with instruction conducted in English. Degrees earned online may not be used to verify English proficiency.

2.  Proof of financial support (See the Financial Resources section on the application).

All application materials should be submitted online.
For details, on submitting your application, please see the Graduate Studies website.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to take the GRE and is there a minimum GRE score required?
Applicants must submit official GRE scores. While GRE scores are not determinative of admissions status, they provide the admissions committee with a more complete picture of the applicant.

Is there a minimum GPA for admission to graduate study?
Students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average in their previous academic work to be admitted to regular graduate student status. In exceptional cases, students with less than a 3.0 grade point average are admitted to graduate study on either a provisional or probationary basis.

How competitive is admission to the Department of American Studies?
Admission into the department is highly competitive. The department can accommodate a maximum of approximately twelve new graduate students each year.

How will I pay for graduate school?
Graduate students in American Studies support their graduate careers in a number of ways, ranging from teaching assistantships and student hourly positions to external fellowships and student loans. For information about the cost of attending KU, as well as what loans or work study options may be available, please see the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships.

How long will it take me to earn my MA or PhD?
The length of time required to earn the MA or PhD in American Studies depends on a number of factors – for example, whether you choose an exam or thesis track for the MA, what forms of funding you receive, your extracurricular commitments, and your personal goals. It is important to work closely with your advisor to design a program of study that takes into account these myriad factors. Please see the Graduate Handbook (PDF) for department requirements.

Can I visit campus?
Because we believe that our faculty and graduate students are the most critical resources in defining the quality of our graduate program, potential applicants are encouraged to correspond with the Graduate Director and, especially, to visit the campus to discuss their interests and the program with faculty and students. Please contact the department to arrange a visit.

How do I learn more about KU or living in Lawrence, Kansas?
The KU website offers a wide variety of information on the area. American Studies faculty and students are always happy to answer specific questions as well.

For additional information regarding the application process, please contact:

Lauren Chaney
Graduate Academic Advisor

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