In keeping with its interdisciplinary profile, the institute works towards a close coordination of course offerings in the seven disciplines represented at the John F. Kennedy Institute. The success of this approach is born out by the overwhelmingly positive student evaluations. The institute scores well above average in almost every category measured by the Student Barometer. Current course offerings are listed in the "Kommentiertes Vorlesungsverzeichnis" (KVV).
Students at the institute are enrolled in either a Magister, a Staatsexamen (teacher training) program, a Bachelor, or a Master program. In addition, graduates have the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. within a single discipline. In compliance with the harmonization of academic degree programs within Europe laid out by the Bologna Treaty, the Freie Universität Berlin is in the process of restructuring its degree programs. Consequently, the Magister and Staatsexamen programs are not open to incoming students.
The Magister program consists of a two-year Grundstudium with obligatory introductory courses and seminars in two selected disciplines and a two-year Hauptstudium with further specialization in these disciplines. In order to complete the Magister program, students must take a written exam and an oral exam in the two disciplines which they have selected as their course subjects as well as write a final thesis in one of these subjects. Interdisciplinary work is an important and integral part of this program.
The Master program was introduced in winter term 2005/06. Prospective students are expected to hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in North American Studies or a related subject. In this rigorous two year program, students gain analytical skills through work in a variety of disciplines including history, culture, literature, political science, sociology and economics. Students will concentrate on two of the above disciplines, but will also complete an interdisciplinary module in which all six departments participate.
The Bachelor program has been introduced in winter term 2006/07 and allows students to earn their first degree after six semesters of intensive study. The modularized program is comprised of introductory and interdisciplinary courses together with specialized courses in particular disciplines. A further component of the new program is a term abroad at a North American university (or at an American Studies program of an ERASMUS-contact university).
Ph.D. students have the opportunity of working closely with an adviser of their choice. In addition, students are offered the opportunity to present "work in progress" in the institute's disciplinary colloquia. Dissertations are evaluated by a five-person committee, consisting of four members of the institute and a member of the appropriate disciplinary department at the Freie Universität. The Graduate School of North American Studies started its doctoral program in October 2007. Selected candidates have the opportunity to receive a one-year fellowship, which will be extended annually upon good progress towards completion of the doctoral degree.