How to Apply

Note: The Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has decided to that open enrollment will start September 7, 2021 for AY 22-23 cohort.  This decision was reached after careful consideration of the existing and future challenges posed by the pandemic and its financial, psychological, and social repercussions.  In addition, the Department believes that its decision is an ethical and responsible one by reaffirming the continued support of and strong investment in its current and continuing graduate students. 

We admit students for graduate study at the PhD level only. PhD students may obtain an MA during the course of their studies, but no students are admitted for a terminal MA. Students entering the PhD program must hold at least a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution of higher education.

The deadline to submit all of your application materials is December 1 of the year prior to admission.

Requirements and Instructions

Required Materials

To apply to our graduate programs, you must complete the online application through the University of Minnesota Graduate School. You will need to include the following materials with your application:

  • Application fee
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Resume or CV
  • Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation must be submitted. Only narrative letters of recommendation will be accepted, recommenders should not fill out the “qualities to be ranked” section. Letters of recommendation can be submitted by the writer either online through ApplyYourself, or as a paper copy.
  • TOEFL (for non-native English speakers): Our institution code is 6874.
  • Writing sample: Should be an academic writing sample, but it does not need to be a paper.
  • Applicant statements: Two applicant statements must be submitted. See below for more information.

Statement one

Statement of your relevant goals and experiences and how these would be served by a PhD in American studies from the University of Minnesota. Also name three to five faculty members whom you wish to study with.

Statement two

Statement of distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would bring to the American studies graduate program and to the education of fellow students.

Optional Materials

You may include several optional materials along with your application.

Sylvia K. and Samuel L. Kaplan Fellowship in Social Justice Fellowship Application

This fellowship is designed to provide financial assistance to exceptional applicants. Recipients receive a stipend, tuition waivers and subsidized health coverage in at least one semester. If you wish to be nominated for this fellowship, include a one to two page statement detailing your commitment to social justice through your PhD. This should be uploaded under “upload 1” in program supplementary information.

ICGC MacArthur Scholars Fellowship Statement

If you wish to be nominated for ICGC-MacArthur fellowship, include a statement detailing your experience and interest in the issues of the ICGC-MacArthur Program. This should be uploaded under “upload 2” in program supplementary information. Guidelines and application forms are available from the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC)-MacArthur Program.

Applicant Statement

Include an optional statement about any extenuating circumstances you would like to have taken into consideration when your application is being reviewed.

Questions about your application? Contact us by email or call 612-624-4190.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the following frequently asked questions prior to submitting your application.

How long do I have to submit my application?
December 1 is the deadline. Applications must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m.

What if I don’t get all my materials in by that deadline?
All materials in your control must be submitted by the December 1st deadline. Applications that are incomplete will not be reviewed. Application file review begins December 1 so it is to your advantage to have all of your letter of recommendation providers submit their letters as soon as possible.

Will you send me an application packet/application materials?
We do not have application packets. The application is done online. Please go to this link for complete application instructions and to access the application. To request an application in an alternate format, please contact the Graduate School Office of Admissions at or 612-625-3014.

Is everything submitted online?
We prefer all materials be submitted online. The only exception we make is if a letter of recommendation provider chooses to submit their letter through the mail, via email as a PDF or via fax. See the “Letter of Recommendation” section in our FAQs for more information.

Should I also send you copies of the materials I upload to the online application?
No, please do not send materials to the department or to the Graduate School. You should only upload the materials in the online application.

How many applications do you receive?
We typically receive 65–85 applications.

How many doctoral candidates do you plan to admit?
We typically admit 4–12 doctoral candidates, contingent on funding availability.

Do you have a master's degree program?
No, we do not admit into a master's program. There have been cases where a student takes a "terminal MA," but this is not typical.

Can I give someone else access to my file?
Yes, in the online application Legal Agent/Privacy section you are able to designate someone else to have online access to your application.

I’d like to find out more about the program. Is this possible?
First, we encourage you to review our website for program info and please especially note our faculty profile info under the “People” section of our site.

If, after reviewing that information, you still have questions, contact us by email or 612-624-4190.

Do you have a recruitment event so I can visit the campus?
If you are accepted into the program, we have a recruitment weekend in the spring. All accepted students are brought to campus where they have the opportunity to meet with faculty, current students, and staff in the department, as well as tour the campus and the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

When can I expect to hear an admission decision?
All applicants can expect to be notified of admission decisions by February 1. Notification of admission comes directly from the Department of American Studies' Director of Graduate Studies.

How much is the application fee?
Application fee information can be found on the Unviersity of Minnesota Graduate School site.

Do you offer an admissions fee waiver or deferral?
The Graduate School requires the application fee. The application fee cannot be waived or deferred and is not refundable. McNair scholars, however, if eligible, would receive a fee grant. For more information, please refer to the University of Minnesota Graduate School McNair Scholars resources site.

What is Statement 1?
This statement should be your academic statement specific to American studies and allied/interconnected fields such as Native Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Outline your interests and professional goals and how you think American studies at the University of Minnesota will provide focus and instruction toward your goals. Also, respond to the general Graduate School questions, and name 3–5 faculty members with whom you wish to study.

What is Statement 2?
This statement should detail your distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would bring to the American studies graduate program and to the education of fellow students.

Is the statement of extenuating circumstances required?
No, this statement is to be submitted only if you feel it is applicable.

What do you look for in a writing sample?
Typically, applicants submit an academic paper they wrote during their undergraduate studies. We are looking to see if a student can think and write clearly and critically. We are interested in applicants' past research experiences. 

Is there a page limit for the writing sample?
There is no page limit; however, please keep in mind that each committee member will be reading 65 to 85 files. Try to reflect your critical thinking and articulate your ideas in 20 pages or less.

How many transcript copies are required?
A single unofficial copy of your transcript(s) for each college attended should be uploaded to your online application. Do not send copies to the American studies department. We strongly advise you to upload UNOFFICIAL transcripts.

Do the official transcripts need to arrive by the December 1 deadline?
No, official transcripts or academic records are not required in the initial application process. If you are admitted, the Graduate School will request that official or certified transcripts or academic records be provided. When completing your online application, we strongly advise you to upload UNOFFICIAL transcripts.

I have transfer credits from junior college on my current transcript; do I still need to send my junior college transcript?
Possibly. You must upload a legible unofficial copy of all college transcripts unless the transfer credits on your current transcript also list the course name and grade received and not just the number of credits that were transferred.

Do I need to submit transcripts from Study Abroad or other exchange programs?
If you attended another college or university as part of a study abroad or other exchange program and the program is listed on your current transcript with courses and grades, a transcript from that school is not needed.

How many do you require?
We require three letters of recommendation.

Can I have more than three letters?
No, only the first three letters of recommendation received will be reviewed by the admissions committee.

What is the preferred method of submission?
The preferred method is to have letters of recommendation submitted via the online University of Minnesota Graduate School application. Once you save the contact info of each recommendation provider in the online application form, an email will be sent to the online recommendation provider with an access code and instructions on how they are to proceed with the online recommendation. You can view the status of your online recommendations each time you log into your application account.

What if my letter writer won’t/can’t submit their letter online?
In that case, your recommendation provider should send their letter directly to the American studies department, preferably by sending a signed letter as a PDF attachment to
Alternatively, letters may be sent by fax at 612-624-3858 or by mail to:

Department of American Studies
104 Scott Hall
72 Pleasant St S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Do you accept letters submitted from third party services?
Yes, letters from third party services are allowed and should be submitted according to the processes detailed above.

Do you require the GRE?
No, the program does not require the GRE as part of the admission requirement into the graduate program.

Does American studies accept international students?
Yes, we admit international students. We welcome your applications and international students are eligible to apply for our doctoral program. They also receive financial support; however, there are limited foreign student fellowships available. 

Are there any special requirements for enrolling international students?
There are no special requirements for international students by the department.

Do you require the TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS?
Yes, according to the Graduate School, the TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS is generally required of all applicants whose native language is not English, regardless of U.S. Citizenship status. The Graduate School standard for English language proficiency for international students is a score of at least 79 out of 120 on the Internet-based TOEFL with minimum section scores of 21 on writing and 19 on reading. (550 out of 677 on the paper-based test), or an IELTS score of 6.5. Please refer to the Graduate School English assessment tests web page for more information.