American Studies Requirements

  • Knowledge of our own culture, its history, literature, and politics, is indispensable to responsible American citizenship. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of American culture enables us to appreciate the ways in which our own culture affects our perception of other cultures. The American Studies program provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American life through which students can fully appreciate both its unity and diversity. The American Studies major and minor are useful for students interested in graduate study in American Studies and all the participating disciplines, as well as professional study in areas such as law, social work and journalism. It is also an appropriate major for those seeking certification to teach social studies.

    The American Studies major is interdisciplinary. All majors must take AMST-200, a course that demonstrates the possibilities of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American society. Interdisciplinary study works best, however, when the student is well grounded in at least one specific discipline to serve as a point of departure. American Studies majors accordingly choose a disciplinary concentration by taking an introductory or methods course, a capstone course, and two American Studies-related electives from one of the core disciplines of the program (English, History, Media and Communication Studies, Politics, and Sociology), as well as electives from American Studies disciplines beyond the concentration. The American Studies major can easily accommodate a dual major, should a student wish to pursue mastery of more than one discipline, but no more than two courses can count for both majors. The major can be completed with 36 credits.

    Special topics courses relevant to American Studies may be included in the major or the minor with the prior approval of the Coordinator.

    Requirements for Majors

    Required course for all majors: AMST-200 – Issues in American Studies. American Studies majors can fulfill the writing requirement by taking a W course within their disciplinary concentration, and the oral presentation and capstone requirements by taking a 400-level seminar in that same concentration.

    Disciplinary concentration:

    Students will elect four courses in one of the American Studies disciplines, including a methods class, an American-themed capstone, and two electives. At least one course in the disciplinary concentration must be at the 300-level or above. The exception to this rule is the disciplinary concentration, sociology, which requires Sociology 391 as a prerequisite for the capstone. Only one elective is required in this disciplinary concentration.

    English concentration:

    • Methods: ENGL-290W.
    • Capstone: a 400-level seminar in American literature.
    • Electives: two courses in American literature, one of which must be at the 300-level.

    History concentration:

    • Methods: HIST-200W.
    • Capstone: HIST-425W, 426W, or 450W on an American topic.
    • Electives: two courses from HIST-125, 126, 212, 225, 226, 227, 228, 330, 332. If on a relevant topic, HIST-150, 250, or 350 may also count. One of the electives must be at the 300-level.

    Media and Communication Studies concentration:

    • Methods: MCS-292W.
    • Capstone: MCS-460W or 462W or 464W on an American topic.
    • Electives: MCS-205 and one course from MCS-315, 319, 340, 360, 366.

    Politics concentration:

    • Methods: POL-300.
    • Capstone: POL-418W.
    • Electives: POL-218 and one course from 310, 314, 316, 321, 322, 325, 330, 355.

    Sociology concentration:

    • Methods: ANSO-200.
    • Theory: ANSO-210
    • Capstone: ANSO-460W on an American topic.
    • Electives: one course from SOC-100, 220, 255, 258, 263, 288.

    Four electives must be taken from at least three different departments outside of the student’s disciplinary concentration. Students may choose any of the above listed courses (except methods courses); as well as from ART-290; ECON-210, DANC-100, 350A; EDUC-100, 280; ENVS-332, 366; MUS-207, 306; RELS-221, 225. Other electives may be taken with the chair’s approval. Students cannot count more than four courses in any one discipline towards the American Studies major.

    Students are strongly encouraged to take more than one version (separate topics) of AMST-200. Students are also encouraged to consider a semester of off-campus study in a national program such as the Washington Semester or the Howard Semester program. The American Studies major is sufficiently flexible to accommodate study abroad.

    Students may elect to fulfill some of the above requirements by doing an internship or research courses (including honors) in American Studies.

    Students who are working on a double major must choose a disciplinary concentration in American Studies that is different from their other major.

    Requirements for Minors

    A minor concentration in American Studies consists of six courses dealing with aspects of American life and culture.

    • AMST 200.
    • One course each from four of the five disciplinary concentrations (English, History, Media and Communication Studies, Politics, Sociology), selected from the courses approved for the major (excluding methods courses: ANSO-200, ENGL-290W, HIST-200W, MCS-292W, and POL-300).
    • One elective selected from any disciplinary concentration or from the electives approved for the major.