Appalachian Studies Certificate

The Graduate Humanities Program is home for the Graduate Certificate in Appalachian Studies, an all virtual certificate program of 16 hours composed of foundation courses, electives to meet specific educational goals, and a capstone research experience.

Courses in the Program are conducted in a virtual graduate-level seminar format, characterized by challenging readings, involved discussion, and mentored research and application. Importantly, the virtual delivery format allows the Program to engage with scholars and practitioners across the region, who work with students to undertake dynamic, collaborative explorations of Appalachian Studies.

Please note that many of our courses require fieldwork in the region.  The Certificate’s final project often involves engaging with local organizations within Appalachia.  Contacting the Director of the Graduate Humanities Program is strongly encouraged before making an application to the Appalachian Studies Certificate.


As defined in legislation, Appalachia is a region of 200,000 square miles following the contour of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. West Virginia is the only state to lie entirely within the region. Parts of twelve other states are included: New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Marshall University commits faculty and resources to Appalachian Studies. In addition to faculty and library resources, the University houses the office of the Appalachian Studies Association, and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia.

The Graduate Certificate in Appalachian Studies allows students and professionals to focus on the region in which they live and work. The interdisciplinary approach ensures that issues and subjects are covered from different perspectives. Individuals may select courses to meet personal educational goals. Lifelong learners are invited to select individual courses for information and enrichment.

Certificate Curriculum – 16 hours

Interdisciplinary Core Classes (3 hours). Choose One:

  • CULS 611 Appalachian Studies: Themes and Voices
    Orients students to the significant political, social, and cultural issues and research in Appalachian studies.
  • CULS 612 Time and Place in Appalachia
    Examines the importance of geography, topography, and geology to the history and development of the Appalachian region.

Electives (9 hours). Students may take a broad range of rotating and Special Topics courses. Examples include:

  • Appalachian Cultures
  • Appalachian Archaeology
  • Geography of Appalachia
  • West Virginia History
  • First Peoples of Appalachia
  • Images of Appalachia
  • Religious Traditions in Appalachia
  • Ethnic History of West Virginia
  • Coal Mine Life, Work and Culture
  • Sociology of Appalachia
  • Appalachian Writers –20th C.

> Please note: CULS 611 or 612 may count as an elective if not used for the interdisciplinary core requirement above.

Capstone Experience (3-6 hours):

  • HUMN 680 Independent Research Seminar
    This research colloquium affords students the opportunity to complete independent research or field work under the guidance of faculty mentors teaching in the certificate program. Seminar meetings allow students to share research and examine issues arising from the research. The completed research is shared in a public symposium.


Students may pursue the graduate certificate in Appalachian Studies while enrolled in the Humanities M.A. program OR as a certificate-only student. Students already enrolled in the M.A. degree program should submit to Graduate Admissions a Secondary Program Request form.

Applicants interested in the certificate-only program should apply for admission to Marshall University as a Certificate/ Professional Development student and select on the application form the Certificate in Appalachian Studies. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.

Admission Procedure

  1. Students are especially encouraged to contact the Director before officially submitting their application.
  2. As outlined in the Graduate Catalog, All students should apply to the Certificate of Appalachian Studies through Marshall University’s Graduate Admissions, following these procedures:
    • fill out a Marshall University Graduate Application for Admission, being sure to identify
      • the “Type of Admission” as “Certificate/Professional Development Program”;
      • the “Major Program to which you are applying” as “GX00 Graduate Certificate Program” (it’s near the end of the list);
      • the “Area of emphasis within your intended major” as “Appalachian Studies GXL3” (it’s also near the end of the list);  you may do this on on-line via Graduate Admissions.
    • send your application to the Graduate Admissions; and have the registrars at all colleges and universities you have attended to send official transcripts of your academic records directly to the Graduate Admissions Office (if you have not already had them sent for another application).
  3. For provisional enrollment, students must first apply to the certificate program following the procedure above. Should the Humanities Program decide to admit the student provisionally, the Director will contact the student directly.
  4. After submitting your application to Graduate Admissions, notify the Graduate Humanities Program Director.

Note: GRE or MAT scores are not required for the Appalachian Studies Certificate.