About the Major

class1The American Studies Department offers one of the most varied and highly developed undergraduate majors in American Studies in the country. The Major is structured around a series of courses that give students breadth of knowledge in American cultures and encourages them to articulate specific fields of in-depth study.

How does an American Studies major give me an edge? Read here.

Am I eligible for a scholarship as an American studies major? Yes! Read here.

The Department sponsors courses during the winter and summer terms, including mini-courses and adventure courses. We have devised a sequence of core courses to help students develop skills needed for interdisciplinary work. Core courses taken in the second or third year (050:310 Approaches to American Studies and 050:389 Junior Seminar in American Studies) provide skills necessary for the research and writing expected of seniors majoring in American Studies. 

Requirements for the Major

Worksheet for Majors (rev 2014)

Coursework for the American studies major is composed of (1) six core courses in American studies that present the methodology and the conceptual framework for a cultural approach to the civilization of the United States and (2) six elective courses. Majors in American studies must take 101, 310, junior seminar, and a senior seminar. Majors must also take 225 and 227. Another 18 credits from American Studies course offerings are required. No more than 9 of these credits (three courses) may be selected from courses numbered below 300.

Students who wish to major in American Studies must complete the following courses:

  • Introduction to American Studies 050:101 (3 cr.) Introduces students to interdisciplinary work, through the use of primary documents, including novels, autobiographies, paintings, photographs and films. (Fall and Spring)
  • Thought and Society in the American Past 050:225 (3 cr.) Examines central American cultural constructions of the long nineteenth century from the Revolutionary era to the eve of WWII: republicanism, revivalism, transcendentalism, populism, progressivism, and pragmatism, among others. Analyzes a variety of historical, visual, literary and performance texts from the era.
  • 19th Century American Literature and Culture 050:227 (3 cr.) Examines classic nineteenth-century texts written by Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, Whitman, and Dickinson, among others, with attention paid to the social and cultural context of these writings, including Transcendentalism, the Abolitionist movement, and the whaling industry.
  • Approaches to American Studies 050:310 (3 cr.) Surveys practice and research approaches in American Studies. It familiarizes students with important debates in the field, as well as encourage them to explore and apply these theoretical methods in a directed research project throughout the semester.  (Fall)
  • Junior Seminar in American Studies 050:389 (3 cr.) A required interdisciplinary seminar for majors focusing on writing in the discipline. The course follows a common syllabus on a theme chosen by the instructor. Prerequisites: 050:101 and 050:310. (Spring)
  • Seminars in American Studies 050:455 and above (3 cr.) Interdisciplinary seminars. Topics offered vary from year to year and depend on instructors. Prerequisites: 050:101, 310, and 389. (Fall and Spring)
  • Another 18 credits from American Studies course offerings are required. No more than 9 of these credits (three courses) may be selected from courses numbered below 300.

Independent Studies 050:390 or 490 (3 cr.), Special Problems in American Culture (390) and Advanced Problems in American Culture (490) allow American Studies majors, minors and other students to do independent work for credit.

Work on the Folk Festival may count for the major only twice.

For double majors, only 3 of these 12 elective credits may overlap with the major requirements of other departments.

Students may not take any courses in fulfillment of the major Pass/Fail.

All courses used for the major must have a grade of C or better.

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The SAS American Studies major received the stamp of approval as a UCC endorsed major for "Educating Today's and Tomorrow's Workforce." Find out if these adult-friendly & working-professional programs are right for you.