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American Studies

American Studies is a multidisciplinary major that examines the American experience in all its rich diversity. It includes the study of American history, literature, and arts and the country’s social, economic, political, and philosophical development. As an interdisciplinary major, it crosses the boundaries of several disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, yet depends on the subject matter, insights, and techniques from those disciplines to help students understand the complex social, political, and cultural American experience.

American Studies offers students, in consultation with an adviser, the opportunity to design an individual course of study which is clearly coordinated with their future plans. The major requires 24 units of core courses in American literature, history, and cultural study. The core courses are followed by 12 units, chosen by the student, for in-depth study of themes, areas, or aspects of American culture.

Because of the multidisciplinary character of American Studies, most students easily complete at least one minor in one of the allied disciplines, and many graduate with a double major. For example, previous students have double-majored in history or political science or have minored in English, history, or anthropology. Students also use electives to pick up courses in communications, computer science, and business. Upper-division majors have the opportunity of gaining on-the-job experience by applying for internships in such fields as journalism, radio and television, historical research, and public relations. This flexibility is one of the advantages of American Studies. The goals and career plans of our students are diverse.

Faculty

American studies faculty are chosen from the academic departments participating in the program. These faculty, selected for their understanding of American culture, will help you widen your interdisciplinary perspectives. Because American Studies is an interdepartmental major, you have the opportunity of studying with top scholars from across campus.

Career Outlook

American Studies graduates have a number of advantages in the job market. In addition to having a broadly based liberal education, they read and think critically, synthesize information insightfully, and write fluently. These are qualities that every employer looks for in job applicants. Moreover, with their broad background, American Studies graduates are also flexible and versatile, so they find jobs everywhere. Our graduates have gone into business and banking, industry, teaching, government, museum work, law, public services, and the media.

Although you may not apply your American Studies course work directly on the job, you will have the advantage of a humanities/social science background and rigorous intellectual training. In every career, knowledge of American society will be of use.

As you think about choice of a major, remember that your college degree should be more than a vocational certificate. In a few years you may well be working in a career that is just being created today. You’ll learn work skills on the job, but you’ll get your intellectual experience here.