American Studies

Program Category: MA Programs
Director of Graduate Studies: Matthew Sandler
Email Address: [email protected]

The MA program in American Studies is housed in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. From this unique institutional vantage, and with the foundation of a year-long course on the history and methods of American studies, students design their own interdisciplinary curriculum from course offerings across Columbia. The degree program culminates in a final research project undertaken with a faculty advisor. Students have traditionally written on American literature and history, but in recent years have begun to conceive projects that intersect with areas as diverse as comics studies, international relations, disability studies, and digital humanities.

Special Admissions Requirements 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit transcripts testifying to their history in higher education, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.

The statement of academic purpose should describe the aspects of your background relevant to the degree, indicate your plans for graduate study at Columbia, and explain how the degree relates to your professional ambitions.

The writing sample should be approximately 15 pages long; a paper written for a course pertaining to the general field of American studies is preferred. Alternatively, you may provide a focused essay written in an academic style that examines an article, book, exhibit, or event relevant to your field of interest.

A minimum of two academic references are required for all applicants to GSAS. If you have not been recently enrolled in an academic program, you may submit a third, professional reference.

All international students whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country where the official language is not English, must submit TOEFL or IELTS exam scores. For more information, refer to the Information for International Students page.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.

FLAS Fellowships are available for students entering in the fall. If you are applying for the FLAS Fellowship, you must submit your admission application, including the FLAS essay, by the fellowship application deadline.