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North American Studies

- Master´s programs

John-F.-Kennedy Institute for North American Studies
Prof. Lora Viola, Ph.D.
Lansstr. 7-9
14195 Berlin
(030) 838-52885

For admittance to the master’s program applicants need to fulfill the following admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent degree in one of the following subjects: North American studies, history, cultural studies, literature, political science, sociology, economics, or in an interdisciplinary subject with at least 90 credit points in one of the aforementioned subjects.
  • Proof of English skills (level C1 CEFR).

The admission is limited.

Students do not pay tuition fees. The university only charges semester fees each semester. The fees of approx. 300 Euros per semester include access to public transit free of charge.

The MA program North American Studies focusses on historical developments, structures, and institutions in North America that are analyzed and interpreted in their respective cultural, economic, literary, political, and social contexts. The program provides in-depth knowledge of North America in the following six disciplines: politics, sociology, literature, economics, culture and history. Students may choose two areas of concentration (out of the six disciplines listed above). In addition, interdisciplinary and regional aspects and issues are addressed in compulsory courses on current topics and research fields in North America.

The John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies (JFKI) is an interdisciplinary institute for research and training at Freie Universität Berlin. Its MA program offers students the opportunity of an academic specialization in numerous facets of North America (US, Canada). Courses are exclusively taught in English. German language skills are not required.

The MA program at the JFKI combines academic training in six academic disciplines with interdisciplinary perspectives. Besides studies in two of the six following disciplines – cultural studies, economics, history, literary studies, political science and sociology – the curriculum includes courses taught by two faculty members with different disciplinary backgrounds. The curriculum further entails lecture series focusing on a specific issue by researchers of all disciplines taught at the JFKI. No other American/Canadian studies program in German offers a comparable breadth of disciplines devoted to the North American hemisphere.

As an outward looking Area Studies Institute the JFKI prides itself on an excellent network – at home and abroad. The Institute maintains ties to numerous American and Canadian Studies Institutes via the Erasmus Program. Students may benefit from a year abroad at an American or Canadian university as part of the university-wide direct exchange program. Due to the Graduate School’s prestigious visiting professor program well-known researchers from North America regularly teach at the JFKI. The Institute also closely cooperates with the US- and Canadian embassies and institutions such as the American Academy. In addition, the Terra Foundation for American Art funds a visiting professor program in art history.

Freie Universität Berlin offers students of North American an ideal and vibrant environment characterized by a multitude of research projects. Besides numerous invididual research projects of faculty members, collaborative research projects focus on popular culture and seriality, American art history (funded by the Terra Foundation), the alt-right movement and trust and transparency in an age of surveillance (TATAS). Faculty members are also active in the two research clusters Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS) and Temporal Communities.

Since its foundation in 2006, the Graduate School of North American Studies (GSNAS) award doctoral degrees in all of the six disciplines taught at the Institute. The JFKI is therefore one of the few institutes in Germany which offer training at the undergraduate (BA) and graduate level (MA, PhD).

The research library is based in the Institute and offers access to over 900,000 books, newspapers, journals, DVDs, cartoons, records and other digital media. Its easily accessible open stacks collection makes it one of the most sought-after research libraries on the US and Canada in Europe.

The JFKI has a very active student body. Students run a cafeteria in the basement of the Institute and organize regular events such as movie nights.

1st Semester Admissions
Restricted admission
Admission for Higher Semesters
Restricted admission (for 3rd semester for winter semester, for 2nd and 4th semester for summer semester)
Application and Registration Period
Only for 1st semester: April 15 – May 31 (for winter semester), only for higher semesters: July 1 - August 15 (for winter semester), and January 1 - February 15 (for summer semester)
Program Start
Winter semester
Master of Arts (M.A.)
4 semesters

The course of study comprises three fields of study: studies in the first discipline (core discipline), the second discipline and compulsory, interdisciplinary module. In addition, students take part in a colloquium of their core discipline, ideally during or shortly before writing their MA thesis.

The course of study is specified in the examination rules, which provides detailed information on study content, exam requirements as well as regulations for the final thesis. It includes an overview of the credits points for each course as well as the respective workload in hours (according to the ECTS specifications). Students have to select one of the two areas of concentration as their core discipline. The MA thesis has to be written in the core discipline.

Students are encouraged to spend parts of their studies abroad; studying abroad is however no mandatory component of the MA program.

After successful completion of the program, students are awarded with an M.A. degree.  

Modules MA North American Studies

Disciplines (2 of 6)


Module A North America in the World
Module B North American History until 1865
Module C North American History since 1865

Cultural Studies

Module A American History of Ideas and Theories of American Culture
Module B Culture of Nationality and Diversity
Module C Cultural History of Individual Media and Aesthetic Forms of Representation

Literary Studies

Module A Literary History
Module B Literary Theory
Module C Literarische Textanalyse

Political Studies

Module A Theories and Methods of Political Science
Module B Institutions, Actors and Processes
Module C Policy Areas/Policy Research


Module A Sociological Theories of North America
Module B Social Systems, Institutions and Regulations – Sense and Function
Module C The Study of Social Process – Problem, Conflict, Crisis


Module A North American Economic Policy in its Historical Dimension
Module B US Domestic Economic Policy
Module C US Foreign Trade Policy

Interdisciplinary Studies

Current Topics and Research Areas in North American Studies 1

Current Topics and Research Areas in North American Studies 2

Current Topics and Research Areas in North American Studies 3