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American Studies PhD: Boston University vs William and Mary


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Any sense of which of these programs has more success in placing people in academic jobs? Or which programs are better at guiding people through the PhD process?

Both seem like really supportive, friendly places... obviously there's a difference in terms of lifestyle (Williamsburg is a small town and Boston is, well, Boston), which is a factor. 


Great offers from both- full funding for 5 years. $21,000 from BU with the offer of $3,000 in summer funding for the first two years. $20,400 from William and Mary and an additional fellowship for $5,000 for my first two years. Comparable, though the cost of living is much lower in Williamsburg.


What are people's experiences with these programs? Reputations? 


Thanks for any help you can provide!

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You should be able to ask the programs directly about their placement record and get that information. You will also want the placement record of your POI at each school since that can make a huge difference, especially in an interdisciplinary PhD. 

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$20K is going to go a LOT farther in Williamsburg than Boston. William & Mary seems to be a top 5-10 program in American Studies, whereas Boston U is more like top 15-20 - not a huge difference, but could be the tiebreaker. I agree that you need to ask in your department about placement rates. You might also want to ask about time to degree and additional funding beyond 5 years; American studies is a hybrid of the humanities and social sciences, and often PhDs in our field take a little longer than 5 years.

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