North American Studies, PhD

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
  • Tuition
  • English (take IELTS)
Freie Universität Berlin ,
The Graduate School of North American Studies (GSNAS) at Freie Universität Berlin offers a three-year North American Studies doctoral study program to candidates pursuing research projects on North America in the humanities and social sciences (American/Canadian Studies). Doctoral degrees are awarded in the following six disciplines: economics, political science (PhD or Dr. rer. pol.), cultural studies, history, literary studies, sociology (PhD or Dr. phil.)
  • Overview
  • Programme outline
  • Key facts
  • Admission requirements
  • Fees and funding


The Graduate School is dedicated to fostering a lively academic community, providing training of the highest international standards, and promoting independent research in one of six disciplines: cultural studies, economics, history, literary studies, political science, and sociology. Its innovative interdisciplinary curriculum responds to the growing need to move beyond, yet remaining anchored within traditional disciplines. Individualized supervision, excellent infrastructure, and a large network of national and international partners all contribute to our doctoral candidates’ success in the program and beyond.

The North American Studies course is offered by Graduate School of North American Studies.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Study intensity Full-time
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Doctoral candidates complete three semesters of intense coursework, followed by three semesters devoted to research and writing. The courses aim at a balance between research-oriented interdisciplinary seminars and discipline-based seminars on theory and methodology. A third component consists of skills training.

Further individual training is made possible by more than 90 additional courses offered by the Dahlem Research School (DRS), the administrative board for all graduate programs at Freie Universität.

Teaching one course on a dissertation-related topic in the B.A. program of the Kennedy Institute is an additional compulsory component of our training.

The curriculum includes the following courses and seminars:

Interdisciplinary Courses:
  • History/Culture: Visions of America: American Exceptionalism, Liberalism, and the Rhetoric of Crisis
  • Political Science/Economics: Democracy in Crisis: Inequality, Global Markets, Political Polarization
  • Literature/ Sociology: Values in Conflict: Religion, Community, Identity
Research Methods:
  • Introduction to Disciplinary Theories
  • Advanced Disciplinary Research Methods
  • Colloquium: Research in Progress
Professional Skills
  • Advanced Academic Writing in English
  • Management Skills Relevant to Academic Professions
  • Presentation and Didactic Skills

The formal requirement for an application is a university degree (M.A. or equivalent) with above average marks in either North American Studies, or one of the disciplines represented at the John F. Kennedy Institute, or an academic program closely related to one of these disciplines: Cultural Studies, Economics, History, Literature, Political Science and Sociology.

The discipline of the intended dissertation must correspond to the discipline of the M.A. degree, or be closely related to it. The dissertation project must be related to North American, American, or Canadian Studies.

Since all instruction is in English, enrollment in the program requires English language proficiency at an advanced level.

Applicants must submit (in English):
  • CV, statement of purpose, copies of all diplomas, outline of the dissertation project, work plan or timeline, writing sample (in English or German), proof of language proficiency, two recent letters of reference
  • The Graduate School is highly interested in international representation and encourages international doctoral candidates to apply. In order to ensure an equal balance between male and female students, applications by women are particularly encouraged.

Tuition Fee

The only fee is the regular semester fee (currently at 311,59 EUR including a public transport ticket for six months) at Freie Universität Berlin


StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

Testimonial Registration Module

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, StudyPortals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.