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Prospective Graduate Students


Application Information:

Apply online: University of New Mexico Admissions Website

Applicants to the American Studies Department graduate program must submit all required application materials, except for official transcripts, through the online application process. The faculty admissions committee meets to evaluate applications once a year. The deadline for receipt of all application materials is January 15 for the next fall semester. Your application must include the following two parts:

Part One: American Studies Application Materials

  • A substantive letter of intent (3-5, double-spaced pages) summarizing prior academic training, explaining current academic and professional objectives, and justifying how these goals might be met in the Department of American Studies. The letter of intent should focus on scholarly and research interests and avoid personal histories and confessions.
  • Three letters of recommendation (a Departmental requirement which must be received by January 15).
  • A sample of recent written work, preferably academic work, not to exceed 30 pages.
  • One unofficial copy of transcript(s) from the university where the student received their BA and/or MA degree(s).

Part Two: UNM Admissions Application Materials

  • Online application and application fee.
  • One official copy of transcripts of all post-secondary academic coursework.

Submission Instructions and Deadlines:

Part Two: UNM Admissions Materials

  • One official copy of transcripts from all post secondary work should be sent to the following address: The University of New Mexico, Office of Admissions, Attn: Graduate Admissions, PO Box 4895, Albuquerque, NM 87196-4895

*Note: All of the items listed in Part One and Part Two must be received by January 15. Incomplete applications or applications received after the January 15 deadline will not be reviewed. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that their file is complete by the deadline, including letters of recommendation. Applicants are welcome to call both American Studies at (505) 277-3929, and the Admissions Office at (505) 277-8900 or 1-800-225-5866, ext. 1 before January 15 to verify that application materials have been received and are complete.


Guidelines for Letter of Intent - Department of American Studies, University of New Mexico

The letter of intent is perhaps the most important part of the applicant’s dossier for admission. In general, the letter should demonstrate some understanding of interdisciplinary American studies, suggest a framework for a coherent program of coursework offered within the department and in other departments, and in the case of the doctorate, project a plan for professional development stemming from the proposed course of study. The faculty also reads the letter of intent to assess how well the applicant can organize, condense, and present her/himself and her/his plans, both immediate and long-term.

The letter of intent should include the following, not necessarily in this order:

  • Summary of the applicant’s academic background and professional work experience.
  • Indication of how this training or work and other relevant personal background data have led to the candidate’s decision to apply to the American Studies graduate program.
  • An account of the applicant’s scholarly and research interests.
  • A rationalized, concrete statement of how the applicant’s scholarly goals can be met by the Department of American Studies and the University of New Mexico.
  • A statement indicating whether the applicant is interested in receiving financial aid (this statement should be in the conclusion).

The faculty will evaluate the letter of intent on the following grounds:

  • Does the applicant understand the nature of interdisciplinary study?
  • Does the applicant propose scholarly work in areas well matched to the resources of the American Studies Department and the University of New Mexico?
  • Has the applicant clearly explained her/his academic interests and displayed potential for research, analysis, and writing?
  • Has the student demonstrated an ability to write clear, well-developed, and organized prose?

The faculty has found that it is hesitant to accept a student who:

  • Cannot write standard academic prose.
  • Has only a vague idea of the field of American Studies.
  • Proposes to work in an area unfamiliar or unsuited to the faculty of this department.
  • Shows little understanding of the nature of interdisciplinary studies and would therefore do better in a department which focuses on a single discipline, such as History or English.
  • Is overly concerned with very narrow or localized issues and thus shows little interest in the larger American cultural context.
  • Presents a case for acceptance based upon dissatisfaction with other university departments, merely the need to obtain higher academic certification, or for validation of work already done elsewhere, either in civic or educational institutions. Taken individually, these are inadequate reasons for admission.

Note: Applicants should not expect the graduate director or any faculty member in the department to read drafts, criticize extensively, or edit the applicant’s letter of intent.


Department Aid

Starting Fall 2015, the department awards TA/GA positions upon admission to the PhD program. Admitted PhD Students are offered five-year funding packages. Department aid is not available for MA students.

PhD students working as TA's usually teach American Studies 182, 183, 184, 185, or 186. The GA has different responsibilities each semester. TAs/GAs must be registered for at least six (6) hours of graduate credit, and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in graduate work.

Advanced doctoral students at the dissertation stage may also apply to teach a 300 level course as a Teaching Associate. Teaching Associates do not receive a tuition waver. Teaching Associates must be registered for at least six (6) hours of graduate credit and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in graduate work.

Advanced doctoral students at the dissertation stage may also apply to teach a 300-level course as a Teaching Associate. Teaching Associates do not receive a tuition waver. Teaching Associates must be registered for at least six (6) hours of graduate credit and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in graduate work.

Other Sources of Aid

The Office of Graduate Studies offers a limited number of financial aid fellowships and awards. Some may be held concurrently with other forms of aid. Contact: Office of Graduate Studies, Humanities 107, 505/277-2711.

The University administers National Direct/Perkins Loans and Federal Direct Student Loans and cooperates in the administration of a number of other such funds, as well as work study and student employment programs. Short-term emergency loans are also available to currently enrolled full-time graduate students. Contact: Student Financial Aid Office, Mesa Vista North, 505/277-8900.

The Student Research Allocations Committee provides money for student research projects and for travel expenses to conferences and workshops directly related to the student's degree program. Contact: SRAC, Graduate & Professional Student Association, Student Union Building (SUB), Room 1021, 505/277-3803.

Student members of the American Studies Association who have had papers accepted for annual meeting may enter the ASA-wide competition the Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize, which includes a certificate and $500 in cash awarded for the best paper presented by a graduate student at the meeting. Annette K. Baxter travel grants are awarded to up to five graduate students in national competition, and provide reimbursement for travel expenses up to a maximum of $300 per recipient. Deadlines are in early September.

Some funding for travel and/or research is usually available through the Department's American Studies Graduate Student Association.

The Department encourages graduate students to investigate outside sources of funding for study/research. Listings of grant opportunities are available through the Office of Research, 327 Scholes Hall 505/277-6128.