American Studies Major and Minor

Unusual Flexibility in Your Education

Students who turn toward American studies keep their openness to the variety of liberal arts subjects; our majors avoid feeling locked into one disciplinary major. After our majors and minors graduate, they benefit from this training in flexibility by being open to many vocational possibilities. Future employers like to see this well-rounded education because it encourages the ability to see connections and think creatively on the job.

The Concentration Area

There is one distinctive feature of the major that should be emphasized: Each student's Concentration Area (sometimes informally called the Focus) is one way the department puts its interdisciplinary values into action. American Studies is built on the liberal arts tradition with students taking a variety of subjects and learning to make connections among them.

For the Concentration Area in the major, students take four courses from different departments -- courses that are related to a theme that cuts across the departments, for example culture and the arts or the politics of inequality. The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has an interactive time line that can help you think about your concentration. Each major writes a justification of how their courses are related, and when the department approves it, those four courses count toward the major.

So when you see that the American Studies major requires 38 credits, notice that 26 of those credits are courses in the American Studies Department and up to 12 of them can be in other departments--perhaps courses you have already taken, that you have been planning to take, or that are part of your existing major or minor. When you are ready to plan your major concentration, download the required form.

Similarly, for the minor in American Studies, there is a Mini-Concentration Area: a requirement for two courses that can be outside the department on a theme justified by the student and approved by the department. This means that for the Minor in American Studies, students need to take two required American Studies courses (one 100-level course and one 300-level), two elective American Studies courses, and two that can be outside the department. When you are ready to plan your minor concentration, download the required form.