Master's degree in American Studies available at Northwestern

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Master's degree in American Studies available at Northwestern

July 23, 2015

Northwestern Oklahoma State University recently added a new graduate program to its lineup for students who hold undergraduate degrees in the humanities and social sciences.

The Master of Arts degree in American Studies is one of only two such graduate programs offered in Oklahoma and will let students use northwest Oklahoma to understand larger cultural issues in the United States.

This master’s degree is a 35-hour program with 20 hours required in core subjects and 15 elective hours. Students can choose from classes offered in agriculture, history, political science, English, sociology, education and/or mass communication. The curriculum provides for a truly interdisciplinary program.

Nine of the program’s core courses deal with Oklahoma and the American West while three hours deal with leadership issues in northwestern Oklahoma. The other hours allow students to focus on larger national issues that meet their individual interests and career goals, as well as research and applied methodology that will 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.

“This program will develop leaders who can help to reinvigorate local communities in Oklahoma and southern Kansas,” said Dr. Shawn Holliday, associate dean of graduate studies. “Getting a master’s degree in American Studies will help students to seek employment and networking opportunities in this multi-state region.”

Students will be able to prepare for a wide range of job opportunities by developing knowledge, skills, attitudes and ethics that can be applied to work in such places as schools, archives, museums, galleries, media organizations, as well as governmental, commercial and cultural agencies and non-profit organizations.

“We currently have 11 students enrolled in the program, and we continue to grow each semester as students find out how this degree can help with their career goals,” Holliday said.

Jana Brown, from Cleo Springs, was the program’s first graduate. She was immediately hired at Northwestern as a history instructor.

“The American Studies program allows students to explore some of their own historical interests more deeply by teaching them how to look at the "little picture" within the larger historical narrative,” Brown said. “One of the most enjoyable aspects of the American Studies program is that students can tailor their research and writing to topics that they find interesting.”

Mark Sontag, a recent graduate from Tulsa, was hesitant to start a graduate program until the American Studies program was developed at Northwestern.

“The American Studies graduate program provided me with an opportunity to selectacurriculum orfield of study that fit my goal for a master's degree,” Sontag said. “I wanted to have optionsthat I could apply toeither history, English, political scienceor adult education as an employment opportunity to teach college level courses or to work as an administrator at a community college or regional university. I plan on extending mycurrent transcript ofcourses in thefield of studies mentioned for this program.”

Before graduating, Sontag was offered a job as a museum curator, which he declined. Since then, he has been asked to sit on two museum boards in the Tulsa area, which allows him to network with important people throughout the state.

Alica Hall, a graduate student from Alva, has a wide variety of interests and wasn’t sure she could find a master’s degree program that could combine all of them, but the American Studies program has done that for her.

“The field of American Studies is able to encompass history, political science, literature and even theatre,” Hall said. “I never imagined that I would find a course of studythat would let me choose the classes I love, but this program does.”

Rebekah Wagenbach, a graduate student from Kiowa, Kan., added that “this program has helped me develop sound research skills that I didn’t develop as an undergraduate. These skills will not only aid me in my future career, but will also prepare me for a Ph.D. program.”

More information on this new degree program can be found by visiting

Other graduate programs offered at Northwestern include:

  • Master of Counseling Psychology – Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor
  • Master of Education – options in Adult Education Management and Administration, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Elementary Education, Reading Specialist; School Counseling; Secondary Education, and a Non-Certificate program.
  • Certification options available include Early Childhood Education, Elementary/Secondary School Principal, National Board Certification, Reading Specialist Certificate, School Counselor Certificate and Special Education

More information on these programs or the requirements to become a master’s student can be found at or by contacting Holliday at (580) 327-8589 or