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Folklore & American Studies MA/MS

The Folklore and American Studies program at Utah State University offers students the opportunity to explore American life and cultures from interdisciplinary perspectives. The program's interdisciplinary structure provides students an opportunity to integrate studies in various fields into a broad understanding of American culture and its antecedents. With special strengths in the American West, Canadian and Mexican borderlands, American history, literature, and folklore, as well as creative nonfiction and studies in visual culture and the environment, the Folklore and American Studies program allows students to forge an individualized plan of coursework that crosses both geographical and intellectual boundaries. By equipping students to analyze and synthesize a broad range of cultural expressions, an American Studies degree will lay the groundwork for careers in academic or professional fields. The MA degree requires students to gain proficiency in one or more foreign languages. The MS degree is identical except that it does not require foreign language study.


  • Folklore: Folklore students study all forms of vernacular folk culture. Folklore classes cover traditions from all over the world and include such topics as folktales, urban legends, personal experience narratives, children’s folklore, folk art, graffiti, the supernatural, etc. The program allows students to choose between two concentrations within the folklore specialization: academic and public folklore. The public folklore concentration prepares them for jobs in academia, government, arts administration, and museum management.
  • American Studies: Currently the American Studies specialization is not accepting new students.
folklore iconography on a map of the us

Admission Requirements

Folklore and American Studies is an interdisciplinary program, therefore applicants are welcome from various undergraduate backgrounds. The American Studies specialization is currently not admitting new students, so Folklore is the only specialization available to applicants for the Folklore & American Studies program.

Application Requirements:

  • Fill out the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Standardized tests are NOT required for this application
  • Provide a copy of your transcript
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • Submit a portfolio of writing materials with the following components:

1) Statement of Intent: Applicants must submit a statement of intent that explains their reasons for seeking a master's degree in "Folklore and American Studies" at Utah State University. This statement should briefly describe their previous academic work, identifying central themes, areas of interest, and skills acquired, and applicants should explain how these prior academic experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter a graduate program in "Folklore and American Studies." The statement of intent may also address any relevant professional experiences and explain how such experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter this graduate program. Within this statement of intent, applicants should identify some of the specific topics or disciplinary areas they would like to focus on for their graduate work. Applicants should also make an effort to show that they are familiar with the specific requirements and features of the "Folklore and American Studies " program at USU.

2) Preface to Writing Sample: Applicants should write a one-paragraph preface for their writing sample that explains the following:

  1. Context: Applicants must explain when they wrote this writing sample and for what purpose. Who was the original audience? And what were the original goals for this piece of writing?
  2. Relationship to Folklore: Applicants must explain how this writing sample demonstrates knowledge and skills that are applicable to the field of Folklore

3) Writing Sample: Applicants must submit a 10-15 page sample of academic writing which demonstrates that they are ready to write at the level expected for graduate seminar assignments. Ideally, this writing sample should focus on a topic related to Folklore and demonstrate the applicants critical thinking skills, research skills, and strengths as a writer.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

The department has the following deadlines:

  • Fall semester – January 15
  • The department will continue to review applications submitted after these dates, but chances of acceptance and financial assistance are better for students who apply earlier.

Master's Degree Plan Options

Students can receive the MS or MA by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete 24 credits of graduate coursework and write a six-credit thesis, with an oral defense meeting.
  • In the Plan B option, students complete 27 credits of graduate coursework and write a three-credit paper or creative project, with an oral defense meeting.

Financial Assistance

Students can apply to become Graduate Instructors (GI). GIs teach English 1010 and English 2010, general education courses that all USU undergraduates are required to take. GIs in the English Department are currently paid $14,000 per year for two academic years. Students who are GIs might also receive tuition awards through the School of Graduate Studies, as well as subsidized health insurance. For more details about admission, financial aid, and scholarships, please see Graduate Financial Information.