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Graduate Certificate

The Program in American Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the histories, literatures, philosophies, music, visual cultures, social formations, economics, and politics of the U.S. Compelling matters of class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, environmentalism, technology, the arts, region, religion, the built environment, citizenship and activism take their proper and vital place in the curriculum of study.

American Studies supports graduate students at Vanderbilt in several ways: it offers a Graduate Certificate program; sponsors a finishing year dissertation fellowship in conjunction with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities; funds two students to attend the “Futures of American Studies Institute” at Dartmouth each summer; and runs a spring conference in conjunction with the American Studies graduate workshop.

Graduate Certificate

Vanderbilt’s Program in American Studies offers an interdisciplinary graduate certificate designed to complement students’ disciplinary training, expose them to larger interdisciplinary traditions and academic literatures, and enhance their professional careers. The certificate offers a structured introduction to the questions and methods of American Studies. It provides students with a valuable credential and strengthens their ability to compete for jobs as well as national fellowships and postdoctoral awards.

Requirements for the Graduate Certificate in American Studies

  1. American Studies 8000: Graduate Workshop in American Studies.
  2. Four additional graduate-level American Studies courses appropriate to the student’s program of study. Courses must be approved by the graduate committee for credit and should include at least two courses outside the student’s home discipline. One course may be devoted to the practicum project and can be satisfied through an independent study with a faculty member affiliated with the American Studies program, with the approval of the director of the American Studies program.
  3. Participation in the monthly meetings of the student-run Graduate Working Group.
  4. A practicum project submitted to the graduate committee for evaluation. The project must demonstrate the application of an American Studies approach to research, teaching, or fieldwork in the context of the student’s primary field and can take the form of an American Studies Salon, a detailed American Studies Road Trip or City Walk plan, an article draft, a conference paper for a regional or national American Studies Association meeting, or an annotated syllabus for an introductory American Studies course.

The certificate in American Studies is open to any student enrolled in graduate study at Vanderbilt University. Acceptance to the program requires the approval of both the graduate director of the student’s home department and the director of the Program in American Studies. Students must submit: (1) an Intent to Enroll form; (2) a one-page rationale for their course of study; and (3) a plan of study focused on a specific theme.

Please contact the American Studies program for more information.

Download Graduate Certificate form

Upcoming Course – Spring 2023

Graduate Workshop in American Studies
Course Number:
AMER 8000
Paul Stob
Issues, methodologies, traditions, approaches, and problems in the interdisciplinary field of American Studies.
American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that links scholars from such disciplines as history, English, philosophy, sociology, religious studies, communication studies, and more. This course will explore the past, present, and future of American Studies through the language, symbols, and discourse that shape its interdisciplinary inquiry. Beginning with a brief history of the field, the course will feature the scholarship of (and discussions led by) Vanderbilt faculty from across the university. In addition, the course follows a workshop model, which will offer students the chance to work on their own projects (including those begun in their home departments) in the context of peer-led, interdisciplinary writing groups.

Dissertation Fellowship

Each year the American Studies program funds a dissertation completion fellowship in conjunction with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. This award is designed to support innovation and excellence in graduate student research in the field of American Studies. The fellowship offers graduate students a service-free year of support to enable full-time work on the dissertation.

The award includes tuition, health insurance, a stipend of $18,000, a research budget of $2,000, and affiliation with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. Fellows will be integrated into the center’s interdisciplinary scholarly community through participation in regular lunches, seminars, and special events. As the capstone of his/her fellowship experience, the fellow will publicly present his/her work to the American Studies community.

Priority will be given to students who have completed the American Studies Graduate Certificate.

Applications should be made directly to the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.

Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth

Each year, the American Studies program sponsors two graduate students to attend the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth. This is a week-long summer residency program that brings together scholars from a variety of fields and institutions to pursue research and facilitate dialogue on issues related to American Studies as an interdisciplinary field.  The Institute is divided into plenary sessions, which feature current work from Institute faculty, and research seminars, in which all participants present and discuss their own work-in-progress.

The award covers the Institute fee (registration, housing, and seminars), airfare, and a small food allowance.


The HASTAC scholar for the Program in American Studies will assist in populating the Program’s new website, including creating dynamic and interactive content to engage students and faculty as well as alumni. The scholar will have special responsibility for outreach to current graduate students in American Studies-related fields and for developing a social or multimedia forum that can help us determine the future direction of our graduate program.