American Studies PhD

What We Do

The American & New England Studies Program (AMNESP) at Boston University (BU) provides interdisciplinary doctoral preparation in the study of American culture and society. Students in our program learn to understand and interpret the American experience as it has been expressed in multiple forms: from abstract-expressionist paintings to Puritan sermons and from video games to vernacular architecture. Students are trained by affiliated faculty with an astounding breadth of specialties from a sweeping range of disciplinary backgrounds, including, but not limited to, history, literature, art history, sociology, religious history, historic preservation, political science, gender and sexuality studies, material culture studies, and media studies.

Our program benefits from being situated within a globally-recognized research university located within one of the nation’s great cities. Boston University provides a renowned faculty within an intellectually fertile community. As the cultural hub of New England, Boston provides a wealth of resources for the study of American society and culture. Students from the BU AMNESP regularly conduct research at the Boston Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, the American Antiquarian Society, the Peabody Essex Museum, Historic New England, and many other similar institutions. Individuals who seek to explore professional opportunities within American Studies may also pursue internships with these institutions. BU AMNESP students also have access to classes, libraries, and museums at Brandeis University, Boston College, MIT, Northeastern University, and Tufts University, all easily accessible from BU’s Charles River Campus.

Graduates of the American & New England Studies Program use their training to build careers in which they achieve notable goals. They fill teaching positions in institutions of higher learning throughout the region, across the United States, and around the globe including Yale University, Dartmouth College, the University of North Carolina, and Sophia University in Japan. Other alumni hold significant curatorial and administrative positions at leading museums, public history sites, and cultural institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum, the New York State Historical Association, the Shelburne Museum, and Mystic Seaport. Wherever scholars gather to discuss and analyze American culture and history you are likely to find individuals trained at Boston University.

As the American & New England Studies Program approaches the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, the faculty continues to foster the fruitful intellectual community which has always been the program’s hallmark. Faculty and students interact formally within the classroom setting, but also gather to hear visiting scholars, produce academic conferences, mark seasonal events, and even annually attend baseball games. The AMNESP Graduate Student Association serves as a forum in which students informally assist each other with the process of completing a doctorate and building a career. Within AMNESP, scholarship is pursued individually in repositories and offices, but is also polished in conversation and collaboration.

If you are interested in joining our community of scholars and would like more information about the application process, financial aid, or arranging a visit, please call (617) 353-2949 or send us an email. We would be happy to meet with you and arrange for you to speak with faculty or students in the program.