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 Focus Area

The Focus Area is a distinctive program feature that allows students to design part of their own major by choosing an area of concentration with selection of courses from different disciplines that address American Studies topics. The Focus Area requires four courses from different disciplines that explore a common theme, for example, culture and the arts, gender and popular culture, race and politics, or religion and values. In Class Search, look for courses particularly well suited to the Focus Area under both Subject (for AMST courses) and Interdisciplinary Programs (for AMST-Attribution courses). Of the 11 courses required for the American Studies major, 4 of them are in the student self-defined Focus Area. By the end of the first semester of the junior year, each major presents the Program Chair with a written Focus Statement that includes

  • a  descriptive title,
  • the list of four courses, and
  • a detailed explanation (about one page) of the Focus Area’s theme and the way the courses relate to each other.

The Mini-Focus Area for minors requires two courses, and the same type of Focus Statement. Of the 5 courses required for the American Studies minor, 2 of them are in the student self-defined Focus Area.