American Studies
Alva / Academics / Graduate Studies / American Studies
| More

Last updated 21 June 2016


In the Fall 2013, NWOSU began offering a new Master of Arts degree in American Studies. Below is an overview of the program with additional information:

American Studies is an interdisciplinary academic field approximately 85 years old. Its purpose is to provide students with an integrated and critical knowledge of American culture and society, drawing on such disciplines as agriculture, English, history, political science, sociology, mass communication, and education to foster a holistic understanding of the historical, social, and cultural underpinnings of the American experience. This approach allows students to appreciate what is both exceptional and universal about the United States. Unlike other American Studies programs nationwide, Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s is unique by using regional issues as a springboard to understanding national issues. Hence, nine hours of the program’s core courses deal with Oklahoma and the American West while three hours deal with leadership issues in northwestern Oklahoma. Sixteen subsequent hours of electives are available for students to focus on larger national issues that meet their individual interests and career goals. Three hours of research and five hours in applied methodology round out the curriculum to provide students with an understanding of the ways in which the northwestern Oklahoma region influences the national American culture and vice versa.


1. Students will explore and interpret the American experience from an interdisciplinary perspective that encompasses the fields of agriculture, history, political science, English, sociology, mass communication, and/or education.

2. Students will develop research skills and theoretical methodologies through which they will foster an integrative approach to learning about American culture and society, both past and present.

3. Students will gain intimate knowledge of northwestern Oklahoma and the American West through which they will learn about the culture of the United States, understanding the diverse ways in which regional issues affect the national culture and vice versa.

4. Students will strengthen their critical thinking skills through extensive writing, reading, research, and communication with peers, faculty, and community members. 

5. Students will initiate, develop, and carry out independent enquiry that will allow them to energize the region culturally and economically through leadership positions upon graduation. 

6. Students will prepare for a wide range of employment opportunities by developing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and ethics that can be applied to work in schools, junior colleges, archives, museums, galleries, media organizations, and governmental, commercial, and cultural agencies.

The mission of NWOSU is to provide “quality educational and cultural opportunities to learners with diverse needs by cultivating ethical leadership and service, critical thinking, and fiscal responsibility.” The Master of Arts degree in American Studies fits the university’s mission by diversifying the educational and service-learning opportunities available to graduate students. Since American Studies is an interdisciplinary field, this program attracts students from a wide variety of undergraduate majors from English and history to sociology and political science, majors with no other graduate programs available in northwestern Oklahoma. A Master of Arts degree in American Studies provides leaders in northwestern Oklahoma with the tools to confront local and national issues that negatively affect the region, allowing them to energize the area both culturally and economically. To achieve this aim, NWOSU’s American Studies program utilizes diverse cultural resources in northwestern Oklahoma, southern Kansas, and southeastern Colorado—the Sod House Museum, the Santa Fe Trail, the Standing Bear Museum, Amache Japanese Internment Camp, the Cherokee Strip Museum, Fort Supply, etc.—to help students learn about the United States while also allowing faculty to preserve regional history and local memory. Subsequently, The American Studies program improves the quality of life for area citizens by partnering with state-funded museums and cultural agencies to increase awareness of the region’s importance to the state and nation. Most importantly, it also engages students in community leadership and development.

EDUC 5010  Graduate Study Seminar (Required of all graduate students)

Research (3 hours)
HIST 5433  Historical Methods (Prerequisite: AMST 5103/Introduction to American Studies or permission of instructor)

Methodologies (5 hours)
AMST 5103  Introduction to American Studies (Required for all American Study students)
Choose one from the following:
HIST 5402  Historic Preservations
HIST 5412  Museum Studies
HIST 5422  Public History

Regional History and Issues (choose 9 hours)
ENGL 5413  Popular Literature (when taught as Popular Culture: The Western)
HIST   5123  Oklahoma History and Government
HIST   5203  The American West
SOC    5123  Social Gerontology
SOC    5133  Rural Sociology

Leadership (3 hours)
Choose one from the following:
SOC   5263  Public Service Leadership
LEAD 5180  Leadership Northwest Oklahoma
LEAD 5580  American Legacy and Leadership

National Histories, Issues, and Perspectives (Choose 15 hours from at least three areas)
AGRI 5153  Agricultural Economics of Development

EDUC 5763  Public School Finance
EDUC 5903  Higher Education Philosophy and Practice
EDUC 5943  Leadership in Adult Education Venues
EDUC 5953  Institutional Management

ENGL 5203  Contemporary Poetry
ENGL 5213  Nonfiction Prose
ENGL 5273  20th and 21st Century American Novel
ENGL 5433  19th Century American Novel
ENGL 5463  American Literature

HIST 5113  U.S. Diplomatic History
HIST 5213  American Colonial Period
HIST 5223  The United States: 1783–1840
HIST 5233  The United States: 1841–1877
HIST 5313  The United States 1933–Present
HIST 5603  History of Economics in the United States
HIST 5613  Native American History
HIST 5623  The United States: 1877–1932
HIST 5663  Survey of Latin American History
HIST 5723  African American History

MCOM 5123  Advanced Public Relations (offered only in Alva)
MCOM 5212  Mass Communication Law and Ethics (offered only in Alva)
MCOM 5213  Oral Communications for the Business Professional (offered only in Alva)

POLS 5113  Constitutional Studies
POLS 5123  Advanced Political Theory
POLS 5213  Public Policy Studies
POLS 5223  Elements of Public Administration
POLS 5253  Federal, State, and Local Relations
POLS 5303  The Federal Legislative Branch
POLS 5313  The Federal Executive Branch

SOC   5113  Cultural Anthropology
SOC   5203  Social Theory

AMST 5500  Internship (from 3 to 6 hours)        

            5330  Thesis (from 3 up to 6 hours)

Note: As with other graduate programs at NWOSU, students enrolled in American Studies may take a maximum of six credit hours in any combination of Individual Study (5170), Seminar (5180), Readings (5190), and/or Short Courses (5300) with permission of their graduate advisory committee. These will be counted as part of the elective options.

Note: All American Studies students must put together their Graduate Advisory Committee and meet with its members during the first semester of coursework.

Job Outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics and the American Studies Association, employment for graduates with an American Studies background is expected to increase faster than the average through 2016. Competition for jobs as archivists, curators, museum technicians, and other service positions within these areas are expected to be strong. Employment in career areas such as public relations, sales, and marketing will be increasing at a similar rate. Students with computer and visual documentation skills have excellent job prospects. Such positions as archivists, public relations specialists, college professors, and youth programs manager are also expected to grow anywhere between 8% and 28%. The greatest value of the American Studies program is exposure to critical thinking in diverse academic disciplines that will help in a diverse number of occupational areas.

Career Opportunities: The American Studies program provides students interested in American culture, society, and history the opportunity to apply their background to a variety of professions in many career settings. Graduates of the American Studies program may prepare for careers in museums, government, law, communication, or education. Many business organizations have positions requiring American Studies backgrounds for public relations, art management, and tourism. Communications fields are another example of potential opportunity. Public sector jobs, government agencies, and publicly-supported institutions often seek American Studies graduates as interpreters, explaining an agency’s or institution’s function, projects, activities, or history to the public.

Job Settings: A graduate of American Studies can explore opportunities within Archives, Art Museums, Art Management, Business, the CIA/FBI, Cultural Organizations, Consulting Firms, Colleges and Universities, Department of Justice, Discovery Museums, Foundations, Historic Sites, Insurance Companies, Living History Museums, Galleries, Government, Historical Societies, Law, Magazine Publishing/Writing, National Parks, Natural History Museums, Peace Corps/Americorps, Planetariums, Political Organizations, Radio, Research Firms, Retail, Schools, Science Centers, Television, Tourism, and Voice of America.

Job Titles: The following are some examples of common job titles for American Studies graduates: Archivist, Business Affairs Director, Collections Manager, Community Relations Director, Curator, Development Director, Editor, Educational Programs Director, Exhibit Personnel, Historian, Historic Preservation Specialist, Lobbyist, Market Research Analyst, Membership Coordinator, Museum Curator, Public Administrator, Public Relations Coordinator, Producer, Salesperson, Script Writer, Teacher, Training Coordinator, Visitor Services Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, and Youth Programs Manager.

To ensure a high-quality program, The Master of Arts in American Studies degree will use the existing admission, retention, and graduation standards that are employed in NWOSU’s Office of Graduate Studies. This information can be found on pages 6–7 of NWOSU’s 2016-2017 Graduate Catalog.


Richmond Adams, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
B.A., University of Memphis
M.D., Vanderbilt University
Ph.D., University of Southern Illinios at Carbondale

Jana Brown, M.A.
Instructor of History
B.A., Northwestern Oklahoma State University
M.A., Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Tamara L. Brown, M.S.
Assistant Professor of Speech
B.S., Northwestern Oklahoma State University
M.S., University of Oklahoma

Kay L. Decker, Ed.D.
Professor of Sociology; Chair: Social Science Department
B.A., Northwestern Oklahoma State University
M.A. and Ed.D., Oklahoma State University

Kathy Earnest, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor of English
B.A., Northwestern Oklahoma State University
M.A., University of Oklahoma
Ed.D., Oklahoma State University

Deena K. Fisher, Ed.D.
Professor of History; Dean of NWOSU-Woodward campus
B.A. and M.Ed., Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Ed.D., Oklahoma State University

Roger D. Hardaway, D.A.
Professor of History
B.S., Middle Tennessee State University
B.S.Ed., Memphis State University
M.A., New Mexico State University
M.A.T., University of Wyoming
M.A., Eastern New Mexico University
J.D., Memphis State University
D.A., University of North Dakota

Shawn Holliday, Ph.D.
Professor of English; Associate Dean of Graduate Studies; Director: American Studies Program
B.A. and M.A., Marshall University
Ph.D., Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Ken Kelsey, M.A.
Instructor of Fine Arts and History
B.A. and M.A., Oklahoma State University
M.A., University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

Steven Wade Mackie, Ph.D.
Professor of Education
B.A., Prescott College
M.Ed. and Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

Aaron L. Mason, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science
B.A., Northeastern State University (Tahlequah)
M.A., University of Texas (Arlington)
Ph.D., Northern Arizona University

Dean A. Scarbrough, Ph.D.
Professor of Agriculture; Chair: Agriculture Department
B.S., Oklahoma State University
M.S. and Ph.D., University of Arkansas

Eric Schmaltz, Ph.D.
Professor of History
B.A., St. Olaf College
M.A., University of North Dakota
Ph.D., University of Nebraska

Besides having published several books and numerous journal articles in the fields of American history, literature, political science, sociology, and/or education, many of NWOSU’s American Studies faculty have community development experience that will allow them to mentor students engaged in leadership activities within northwestern Oklahoma. Some of the organizations that faculty are affiliated with include the Greater Enid Arts and Humanities Council, Freedom Chamber of Commerce, Preservation Oklahoma, the Cherokee Strip Museum, the Woods County Economic Development Committee, and the Oklahoma Community Institute.

One of the most important resources that American Studies students have at their disposal is the NWOSU Institute for Citizenship Studies that was developed by the faculty of NWOSU’s Social Sciences Department and by the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. Part of the Institute’s mission is to “to foster an ethos of constructive patriotism, public service, and civic engagement” in students by promoting such campus events as “Constitution Day, The Cultural Heritage Lecture Series, [and] The Presidential Lecture Series.” The Institute’s activities, when coupled with such other offerings as the English Department’s Visiting Writers Series, will expose students to a wide range of issues and speakers in American Studies. The Masonic Institute also serves as the depository for the “Mr. George D. Coyan Collection,” which contains “a growing body of original historic American newspapers and magazines named in honor of the late World War II veteran and educator.”

Another important mission of the Institute for Citizenship Studies is for faculty to “engage in collaborative scholarship” and to promote research efforts and "other initiatives to further the dissemination of knowledge within its respective department’s disciplines.” To fulfill this aim, the Institute’s Executive Directors, Dr. Eric Schmaltz and Dr. Aaron Mason, founded the journal Civitas, an “annual, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed publishing venue aimed at promoting scholarship concerning the Humanities and Social Sciences as they relate to citizenship matters.” Since the journal welcomes submissions by graduate students, many of those enrolled in the American Studies program will have a possible publishing venue for their work. Selected students may also help with the journal’s editing and publishing process as an internship possibility.

American Studies Association

American Studies Graduate Programs Nationwide
Guide to American Studies Resources
Guide to Non-Profit Careers
Association of American Colleges and Universities
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center (Enid, OK)
Standing Bear Park and Museum (Ponca City, OK)
Oklahoma Historical Society
Westerners International
Plains Indians & Pioneers Museum (Woodward, OK)
Sod House Museum (Aline, OK)
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City)