Why American Studies?

A Research versus Professional and Creative Program


While many ASE students will inevitably go on to be effective professionals in the worlds of arts, policy, and community organizing, we are not a professional program per se. Our goal is to train research-based scholars. If you are not interested in developing a sustained program of independent research, you might want to consider a more professionally-oriented program.



Some applicants are interested in combining their creative work with critical inquiry. While we do not offer training in creative writing, screenwriting, or sculpture, we do have a number of students who are accomplished artists and seek to integrate their own professional practice with scholarly analysis. We are doing our best to accommodate such students, but we do not always offer the number of specialized courses that they may need and desire. Students wishing to work at the intersection of creative and critical work must be highly innovative and enterprising, and take the initiative, for example, in developing student-led seminars.

Exploring ASE

Besides requesting an application packet, there are several other steps serious applicants should consider in determining whether ASE might be the place for you. First and foremost, carefully review our Web site and identify those faculty that you might actually consider working with. Students should contact relevant faculty through e-mail.  This will give you a much better idea of what that faculty member is all about, and at the same time, will allow that faculty member to get to know you better.  Do your homework: Does that person’s publication list interest you? What are his/her future research projects? What kind of training did s/he receive? is s/e taking any new students? Please be advised that even though a faculty member may be enthusiastic about an applicant, s/he may not be able to accept new students if already supervising a large number, or going on leave.



Prospective applicants should also feel free to come and visit the USC campus. Getting to meet our students, faculty, and staff, and participating in ASE activities is a great way to decide whether this is a place where you would flourish.

  • Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Avenue
  • Kaprielian Hall 462
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-2534