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American Studies - Research

The UCD structured PhD programmes allows students achieve the best possible experience of graduate research and training. Making a substantial and original contribution to knowledge, normally leading to peer-reviewed publications remains the core objective of doctoral studies. A research degree is based primarily on a research project, usually proposed and developed by the student, who undertakes their research under the supervision of a supervisor and a Doctoral Panel.

A PhD typically takes 4 years full-time and 6 years part time to complete. The examination for the degree is based on a description of the candidates research written up as a dissertation and defended in a viva voce (orla examination). The Institute offers expert supervision in all major areas of American Studies (do we add particular topics eg American Politics and Foreign Policy, American Literature and Culture, Media and Conflict, Irish and US Relations)

As part of the structured PhD programme the College of Arts and Humanities require all incoming PhD students to obtain at least 30 credits in addition to the dissertation before a PhD will be awarded. Twenty credits may generally be awarded for prior learning (taught MA or equivalent), subject to the approval of the Graduate School Board of the College of Arts and Humanities. The selection of the remaining 10 credits should be discussed with your supervisor. Students are also required to undergo assessment of the progress in the dissertation (a Transfer Panel) 12-18 months after beginning their studies. The Transfer Panel will decide whether the student can progress from stage 1 of the PhD programme to stage 2. Details of both aspects of the PhD are given below.

Entry requirements

In general applicants for the PhD must hold a BA and MA or equivalent qualifications, with a distinguished record of academic achievement. However, there are no automatic criteria which make students eligible for a research degree. The Institute takes all elements of the application into account with close attention given to the quality of the applicants' application form, research proposal, their referees recommendations and their academic record. Applications from students without evidence of a completed postgraduate degree can only be considered in exceptional circumstances . Such applications will be considered on a case-by case basis.

It is advisable to contact the Institute in advance of submitting an application as it may be beneficial in shaping your research proposal and to identify a suitable supervisor in advance.


MLitt 3 years full-time
PhD 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time.

Further enquiries

Application date

Closing Date – there is no closing date. If your application is accepted, your studies can begin in September, January or May.

In addition to completing the online application form, student will be asked to upload the following documents:

A research proposal (4-5 pages). The proposal should provide a provisional title for the thesis, explain the central idea, question, or problem you wish to research and justify the choice material you intend to study. You should also give an indication of how you expect your research to contribute to knowledge on your choice topic and in wider fields of study. You should explain what methodologies will be used in the course of your research.

A provisional bibliography of major scholarly publications in the subject you wish to research- the bibliography should provide a comprehensive list of the major publications on the topic you wish to research, or in the general area of your research. This should indicate that you have conducted a preliminary survey of existing research and understand how your research might build upon existing research and scholarship.

A proposed schedule for completing your research and dissertation within four years. This might be divided into years or semesters.

Copy of official transcripts of your academic qualifications

Copy of passport or birth certificate

If English is not your first language you are required to produce and IELTS certificate to a standard of 8 or equivalent, with no section less than 7.

Two academic references supporting your application

Copy of any additional qualifications or evidence of any expertise, which may be advantageous to your studies.

The Institute reserves the right to request a Skype interview with applicants and the right to request a sample of your written work.

Research areas

The Clinton Institute fosters interdisciplinary research on the United States by developing a broad programme of research projects, seminars and events.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: To be agreed with the school.

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