Carnegie Mellon University

Masters of Literary & Cultural Studies Program

The Literary & Cultural Studies (LCS) graduate faculty bring students into contact with current work in the fields of performance studies, the history of books and reading, Shakespeare and early modern media, contemporary literatures both American and global, digital humanities, modern media studies, black studies, and gender studies.


The M.A. in Literary & Cultural Studies is designed to prepare students for the intellectual rigors of a Ph.D. program and sharpen key analytical and organizational skills that can be utilized in a number of non-academic careers. The program offers an intimate classroom and advising environment with small seminars and close mentoring relationships with faculty who will assist you in preparing for more advanced graduate work.

Along with intellectual mentorship, our program has a number of research assistantships available. These assistantship opportunities allow students to hone analytical, editorial and organizational skills by working alongside LCS faculty members on a variety of exciting projects. For those who decide to take a non-academic career trajectory, these assistantships can help strengthen skills that can be translated into a variety of non-academic career paths.  

Program Highlights

  • Field and Course Concentrations: The M.A. LCS program offers scholarly concentrations in Early Modern British Studies (1500-1850), Twentieth and Twenty-First Century American Studies, Global and Transnational Studies. Our faculty offer seminars in topical subjects such as Race and Media, The Sociology of Culture, Data Stories, 18th Century Media: Print and Theater, Transnational Feminisms, Contemporary American Literature.
  • Financial Support and Research Assistantships: Full-time and part-time students receive partial tuition remission and have opportunities to act as paid research assistants to faculty members on a variety of projects. For example: creating digital and conventional archive; editing a range of documents, from textbooks to scholarly articles and assisting with documentation.
  • Post-Graduation Placement: Graduates pursue a range of academic and professional careers after completing the M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies. They teach in secondary institutions and colleges as well as pursue professional careers in marketing, business, nonprofit, and publishing. The program has placed students in non-academic positions at the Utah Symphony and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art as well as Ph.D. programs at the University of California at Irvine, University of Texas at Austin, Northwestern University, Brown University and Johns Hopkins University.
  • The City: The city of Pittsburgh, once the home of the nation's largest industrial production base, is also attractive to our students because of its remarkable working-class history and affordable cost of living. A number of cultural institutions within the city such as the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, City of Asylum and The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, along with strong university links to local community groups through the Center for University Outreach, collectively make Carnegie Mellon a productive place to explore the intersection of culture, politics, and society.
Students and applicants with any questions about this program are asked to contact Jen Loughran, Assistant Director of Graduate Programs, and Jon Klancher, Director of Graduate Studies.

APPLY NOW for the Masters of Literary & Cultural Studies

Spotlight: Rich Purcell

Associate Professor, Director of the LCS Program, Director of Arts Greenhouse

Rich Purcell became the director of the LCS Program in Fall 2019. Rich's research explores the relationship between race and "the processes of subjectification" in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Rich teaches courses in post-WWII and contemporary American literature, critical theory, African-American literature, film and popular music. In addition to his scholarly work and teaching, Rich also directs the community outreach program: Arts Greenhouse.

Richard Purcell