North American Studies, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
  • English (book IELTS)
University rank #88 (WUR) ,
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.)

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

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
  • 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.

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.

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
Professional Skills
  • Advanced Academic Writing in English
  • Management Skills Relevant to Academic Professions

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Book IELTS
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test OF English as a Foreign Language – offers a paper-based test (PBT). The final, overall PBT score ranges between 310 and 677, and is based on an average taken from the three test components (listening, structure, and reading). The writing part of this test is scored separately on a scale of 0-6. Read more about TOEFL (PBT).

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

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.

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

Living costs for Berlin

  • 710 - 1230 EUR/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


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