Appalachian Studies


Radford University’s geographical placement in Southwest Virginia provides the optimal location for a program in Appalachian Studies. The undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in Appalachian Studies has been in place since 1981, and multiple course offerings in Appalachian topics have served a variety of majors in both undergraduate and graduate education for years. The graduate certificate in Appalachian Studies builds on those foundations and draws from existing courses in the initial phase of the certificate offering.  

The certificate serves community college and K-12 teachers desiring course work at the graduate level in Appalachian Studies, as well as those with a general interest in the discipline. Also, the Master’s program in English at Radford University regularly attracts students wishing to focus on Appalachian topics, as do occasionally Master’s programs in Education and other disciplines. The certificate in Appalachian Studies, then, may stand alone as a non-degree curricular unit, or it may become a corollary to a Master’s degree in a related field.


The certificate is based in the Appalachian Studies Program in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. It is supported by the English Department and other departments having graduate-level courses with Appalachian content. The contact person is Dr. Theresa Burriss, Chair of the Appalachian Studies Program and Director of the Appalachian Regional Studies Center.  

Scope and Sequence:

The certificate in Appalachian Studies consists of 18 graduate credit hours chosen from among those courses listed below. Other courses may be added to the list with the approval of the Appalachian Studies Committee. Courses do not have to be taken in a particular sequence since each is a complete entity within itself. Therefore, students may begin the curriculum in any semester.

Courses Include:

ENGL 590:  Summer Workshop (3 s.h.)  - A two week summer institute - Appalachian writing and culture.  Students may enroll twice (2 summers), as the course content changes.

RU graduate Evening Courses, taught fall and spring semesters.
ENGL 648: Studies in Oral and Written Literature of Appalachia (3 s.h.)
Students may enroll twice, as long as the content differs.

APST 560: Seminar in Appalachian Studies (3 s.h.)
Students may enroll twice, as long as the content differs.

APST 698: Directed Study (3 s.h.)

Total Credits:  18 s.h.

Delivery Strategies and Resources:

Most of the courses listed above are currently offered in accelerated summer workshops or in evening classes on campus and are therefore accessible to educators and others working full-time.  As the certificate offering develops, alternate delivery strategies will be investigated to accommodate distance learners and other scheduling needs.

Duration and Review Process:

The Certificate in Appalachian Studies can typically be completed within a two-year time frame by students taking courses on a part-time basis.  Students who are able to take fuller course loads may be able to complete the Certificate requirements in a shorter time frame.

Admissions Criteria: 

Applicants wishing to pursue the certificate should apply as non-degree seeking students, submitting graduate application including “Appalachian Studies Certificate” in the comment field, the application fee, and official transcripts.  Those wishing to take the certificate with a degree program should apply to the graduate program of interest and, when admitted, complete a Certificate Declaration Form.  All applicants should notify Dr. Burriss of their intent to pursue the certificate.

Dr. Theresa Burriss
Appalachian Regional Studies Center
P.O. Box 7014, Radford University
Radford, VA  24142