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School of Arts & Sciences-Newark


American painting

American Studies

Understand the World to Change It

American Studies is an interdisciplinary program offering a PhD, two Master’s tracks (General and Public Humanities), and an undergraduate minor.

The Graduate Program in American Studies educates students to become knowledgeable and productive scholars who will contribute significantly to a wide range of academic, cultural, and public institutions because we believe that interdisciplinary training in American Studies provides a critical foundation to understanding our world and changing it. 

Am Stud Department photo from 2017

How You Will Learn 

By studying the past with an eye to the present, our students develop the knowledge and skills to analyze the politics, history and culture of the Americas and engage with diverse audiences. Our students produce work that reaches beyond academic audiences and contributes to the pressing conversations of how to achieve justice in our time.

In recent years, students have co-created an exhibit on the local history of police accountability campaigns and conducted oral history interviews for the Queer Newark Oral History Project among others. 

Our alumni are leaders in academia, politics, cultural institutions, and nonprofits across the country. 

Our award-winning faculty, from departments across the humanities and social sciences, are actively engaged in research, writing, and community-based public projects.

Scholarship that Matters

All of our students, whether they are preparing for careers in the academy or the public sector, are asked to consider the diverse publics that their scholarship can serve and the many forms in which the fruits of their research can be shared. 

This is why our program focuses on training students to create public-facing scholarship defined by two characteristics:

  • Scholars’ engagement with questions that arise from the problems of public life
  • Scholars’ interests in communicating their work beyond academic institutions to the public hungry for an informed perspective in a dialogue between equals

To that end, all students are required to earn 3 credits in public humanities. Through this coursework or their research, students are encouraged to incorporate public scholarship into their academic program, either by engaging in an “applied” or public project, by working with a public institution, or by participating in the several public programs developed annually by the institutes, centers, and academic departments on the Rutgers-Newark campus.

In addition to scholarly work within their chosen interdisciplinary fields, those students preparing for positions in public scholarship will explore the missions and goals of different public institutions. Their training will provide opportunities for collaborative work with historical archives, museums, historical and cultural commissions, and the communications media, as well as the distinct methods and media utilized by these institutions.

For questions or to request more information about our program, please contact Program Director Kyle Riismandel -