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Graduate Certificate

Vanderbilt University’s Program in American Studies offers an interdisciplinary graduate certificate. This certificate has been designed to complement students’ disciplinary training, expose them to larger interdisciplinary traditions and academic literatures, and enhance their career options. The American Studies certificate provides graduate students with training across an array of disciplines as well as training in interdisciplinary methodology. The certificate provides students with a valuable professional credential and strengthens their ability to compete for jobs as well as national fellowships and postdoctoral awards.

Requirements for Graduate Certificate in American Studies

The certificate in American studies is open to any student enrolled in graduate study at Vanderbilt University. Students wishing to enroll must complete an “Intent to Enroll” form, which must be signed by the student, the director of the Program, and the director of the Graduate Program (DGS) for the degree program in which the student is enrolled. A signed copy of the form should then be submitted to the Graduate School ( and to the University Registrar’s Office (

Acceptance to the program requires the approval of both the graduate director of the student’s home department and the director of the American Studies program. Students must also submit an application that includes (1) a one-page rationale for their course of study to the American studies graduate committee for approval and (2) a plan of study focused on a specific theme, forming an intellectually coherent whole.

Graduate courses successfully completed at Vanderbilt University prior to admission to the program may be counted toward the certificate requirements with the approval of the director of the program if the course can satisfy one of the curriculum requirements of the program. An undergraduate course may be substituted for a graduate course required by the program’s curriculum with the approval of the director of the program and the Graduate School.

The awarding of a certificate requires a cumulative GPA of 3.3, satisfactory performance of B+ or better in AMER 4000, completion of all requirements, and successful completion of the graduate certificate paper. 

The required coursework (total of 15 credit hours) and related scholarship is as follows:

  1. Required course (3 credit hours): American Studies 8000. Major approaches. Introduction to interdisciplinary American Studies: major debates, research methods, theoretical terms and directions

  2. Four additional graduate-level American Studies courses appropriate to the student’s program of study (12 credit hours): Courses must be approved by the Director of the Program in American Studies and must include at least three courses outside the student’s home discipline. No more than two courses (6 credit hours) of courses required for the primary degree may be applied toward the certificate. No more than two courses (6 credit hours) of specifically-named courses required for the primary degree may be applied toward the Certificate. A maximum of one course (3 credit hours) may be satisfied through an independent study with a faculty member affiliated with the American Studies program, with the approval of the Director of the Program in American Studies.

  3. A paper (30-35 pages) or comparable scholarly project submitted to the Director of the Program in American Studies. The paper must demonstrate the application of an American Studies methodology to research, teaching, or fieldwork. It should also feature evidence of synthesis of interdisciplinary American Studies scholarship and point to relevance in the candidate’s primary field. Papers should be submitted in a timely fashion, ideally in the semester before dissertation work commences.

Approved List of Courses

*Effective Fall 2015, Vanderbilt University has introduced a new course catalog numbering scheme. For assistance with the translation between old (3-digit) and new (4-digit) numbers, please consult the Course Renumbering Lookup Tool.

AMERICAN STUDIES: 8000, Graduate Workshop in American Studies.

ECONOMICS: 9550–9560, Labor Economics

ENGLISH: 8450, Studies in American Literature; 8455, Studies in Southern Literature; The following courses when an American topic is offered: 8430, Seminar in British and American 8137, Introduction to Literary Theory; 8138, Special Topics in Literary Theory; 8150, Special Problems in English and American Literature; 8155, Special Topics in English and American Literature

HISTORY: 8700, Studies in Early American History to 1783; 8710, Studies in the Middle Period of American History, 1783–1861; 8720,Studies in United States History, 1861–1900; 8730, Studies in Recent American History; 8740, Seminar in Recent American History; 8750, Topics in American History; 8770, Studies in American Social History

PHILOSOPHY: When an American topic is offered: 9010, History of Philosophy; 9020, Topics in Philosophy; 9000, Figures in Philosophy; 8054, Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

POLITICAL SCIENCE: 8330, Studies in American Politics; 8331, Party Politics; 8332, Political Parties and Electoral Behavior; 8333, Political Culture, Opinion, and Behavior; 8335, Politics of American Legislation; 8336, The Judicial Process; 8339, Research in American Politics; When an American topic is offered: 8370, Topics in Political Science

SOCIOLOGY: 6301, Classical Sociological Theory and Major Theorists; 6302, Contemporary Theory; 8331, Survey Seminar on Inequalities and Movements; 8333, Survey Seminar on Cultural Sociology; 8335, Survey Seminar on Deviant Behavior and Social Control; 8339, Survey Seminar on Political Sociology; 8343, Survey Seminar on Social Psychology; 8345, Survey Seminar on Social Stratification; 9361, Special Topic Seminars on Social Phenomena at the Macro Level; 9363, Special Topic Seminars on Institutions and Organizations; 9367, Special Topic Seminars on Norms, Power, and Related Normative Phenomena; 9368, Special Topic Seminars on Social Processes and Social Change.

WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES: 8301, Gender and Sexuality: Feminist Approaches; 8302, Gender and Pedagogy.