Appalachian Studies Certificate

The Graduate Humanities Program is home for the Graduate Certificate in Appalachian Studies, a non-degree program of 15 hours composed of foundation courses (CULS 611 or 612), electives to meet specific educational goals, and a capstone research experience (HUMN 680).


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.

Home to 23 million people, the region has about 42 percent rural population. The economy has long depended on coal, timber, gas, and related manufacturing.

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.

Program in the News

Read about the Appalachian Studies Certificate program in Charleston’s local paper, the Daily Mail, here.  See especially the stories about Chuck Ocheltree & Royce Diehl, here, on what some of our recent graduates are doing.

Certificate Curriculum – 15 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 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, available here.

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 encouraged (but not required) to contact the Director before officially submitting their application.
  2. All students should apply to the Certificate of Appalachian Studies through Marshall University’s Graduate College, 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 here.
    • send your application to the Graduate College; 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.

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