Learning Goals

Graduate Program in American Studies
M.A. Learning Goals and Assessments

The Graduate Program in American Studies educates M.A. students to become knowledgeable and productive analysts of American culture who will contribute significantly to a wide range of academic, cultural, and public institutions.

Learning Goal 1:  Train students in the theory and methodology of interdisciplinary study and to develop research skills enabling them to draw upon, and eventually contribute to, the collections, archives, and resources of the universities and cultural institutions of the region.

Assessment of student achievement of Goal 1.

  • Grades and written evaluations in coursework.
  • Comprehensive written and oral examinations in three areas of study defined by the student in consultation with an examination committee of three faculty advisors. Examinations are followed by a meeting with the examination committee to discuss examination results.
  • Requirement that M.A. students take both an introductory reading seminar and research seminar in American Studies.
  • Written evaluations and meetings of the American Studies advisory council at the end of each semester to discuss student progress and need for encouragement, focus or improvement.

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 1.

  • Orientation session for graduate students when they arrive on campus to introduce them to students, faculty, and program procedures, requirements and expectations.
  • Workshops on writing, research, and professionalization during the academic year.
  • Program director assigns an interim advisor when a student enters the program. Once a student is immersed in the program, the student is welcome to select another advisor.
  • Students are required to organize their course choices in American Studies around an area of concentration of their choice.

Learning Goal 2: Foster new scholarship that contributes to the advancement of understanding of American civilization's heterodox identities, institutions, and cultures.

Assessment of student achievement of Goal  2.

  • Students are required, at minimum, to write an essay based on primary source research in an introductory research seminar and in an advanced research seminar.
  • Students may, at their own choosing, select to write an M.A. thesis to meet six of 30 of the credits required for the M.A.
  • Student presentation of work in an annual graduate student symposium in American Studies at Rutgers-Newark.
  • Student presentation of their work in regional, national and campus conferences.
  • Publication of student works in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Students are required to meet regularly with their advisor to discuss the state of their work.

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 2.

  • Introduce students to research strategies starting in their first year of coursework.
  • Visits to archives and other collections of sources in our region in both coursework and independent trips.
  • The program brings scholars to campus for lectures and seminars to introduce students to leading scholars and research topics in American Studies.

Learning Goal 3: Encourage the original and creative articulation of research and scholarly contributions to diverse audiences, including other scholars in the academy; undergraduate and graduate students; scholars and professionals in cultural institutions in the public sector; and the general public, through a variety of media.

Assessment of student achievement of Goal 3.

  • Students are required to take a course in public humanities that will introduce them to key themes in the field.
  • Students are encouraged to present their work at both academic conferences and forums oriented to the general public.
  • Students are encouraged to take a for-credit internship at an institution where they will engage in public humanities work, write a review essay grounded in their experiences, and be assessed by both an academic advisor and an internship supervisor in the public humanities.
  • Students are encouraged to conduct for-credit independent study, under faculty supervision, to produce works of public scholarship.

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 3.

  • The program, in cooperation departments and faculty embers that participate in the program, regularly offers coursed in the public humanities.
  • Faculty incorporates questions and research about the public humanities into their coursework.
  • The program supports lectures, conferences, performances and presentations relevant to American Studies on campus.
  • Where appropriate, faculty members encourage students to produce work in the public humanities as part of their coursework.