The major in American Studies, appropriate for a wide variety of future professions, began as a program of coordinated study in the history, literature, and politics of the United States. These remain the core elements, but American Studies aims to be inclusive in its subject matter. Given the nation's diverse population and cultures, the program wants its majors to examine American experience in broad terms, drawing on the materials and methods of a variety of disciplines. Students who contemplate becoming American Studies majors are encouraged to speak with the program director as early as possible to arrange for a major adviser. Interested students can stop by the main office in M101 McGraw Hall and pick up an application packet for the American Studies Major.
All students majoring in American Studies must take a minimum of twelve courses selected from the American Studies roster, completing them with a grade of C or better. No more than six of these courses can come from any one discipline. Of the twelve courses at least three must have a substantial focus on material before 1900, at least two must deal with American diversity (American Studies 109 and 110 are especially recommended), and at least one must be a 4000 level seminar, either an American Studies 4300 course or an appropriate substitute seminar at the 4000 level (AMST 4997/4998, taught in Washington, D.C., does not fulfill the seminar requirement though it counts as one course toward the major). Note: a single course may satisfy more than one of these requirements: e.g., a course on Native Americans in the 1800s is both a course dealing substantially with pre-1900 material and one dealing with American diversity.
Although a good bit of freedom is encouraged in the selection of courses, American Studies majors, in consultation with their adviser, must define an area of concentration and complete six courses in that area. The area of concentration can be designed to fit the particular interests of a student, but it must include subjects in at least two disciplines. Possible areas of concentration include "visual studies," "cultural studies," "race and ethnicity," "legal and Constitutional studies," "American institutions," "class and social structure," "the American environment," community-engaged learning and research. (Courses taken to satisfy the concentration may be used to fulfill other requirements for the major.)
Students may find courses relevant to American experience that they wish to take but that are not on the American Studies course list. With their adviser's approval, students may count two such courses towards fulfilling the major.
Honors. Candidates for honors must maintain an average of B+ in courses pertinent to the major and have taken at least one course in which they wrote a research paper. Normally, at the end of the junior year students who wish to write a senior honors essay must approach a member of the American Studies Program faculty and discuss their ideas for a project. With approval from the faculty member students then register in the fall of their senior year for AM ST 4993, the honors essay tutorial. At the end of the fall semester, honors candidates will meet with their adviser and a second member of the American Studies faculty to discuss their progress. If satisfactory, honors students will complete their honors essays in the spring by enrolling in AM ST 4994.For information on internships and careers, please click here.