The American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary, comparative, and internatinally oriented.  The competitive-admissions major examines the development and expressions of national culture alongside those of borderland and diasporic American cultures and amongst global cultures.  It draws on a broad range of faculty from the humanities and social sciences so that students can examine components of US culture and the diverse experiences of Americans and others affected by Americans locally, nationally, and globally.  Students are allowed a wide-ranging yet disciplined exploration that crosses the boundaries of traditional academic fields.  All students write a thesis explicitly dealing with the United States in a comparative or global dimension.

Because this selective honors program has more applicants than available space, admission depends in part on academic distinction and on demonstrated interest in comparative American cultures.  First - and second-year students apply for admission to the major early in spring quarter.

Study abroad and upper-level language proficiency are strongly encouraged.

Major in American Studies


  • 301-1 during sophomore or junior year
  • 301-2 or -3
    • 1 approved course from African American, Asian American, or Latina and Latino Studies; to be taken the same year as 301
  • 390-1, 2 during senior year


  • Must be at the 200 or 300 level
  • 2 of the following, preferably 1 History and 1 English:
    • History 210-1 or 210-2
      History of the United States. 1. Precolonial to the Civil War. 2. Reconstruction to the present.
    • English 270-1 or 270-2
      American Literary Traditions 1. Puritans to Moby Dick.2. Mid-19thcentury to the present.
  • 8 additional courses chosen in consultation with the director.
    • Theme of courses should have strong US dimension but also global or comparative implications.
    • At least 1 course must be relevant to the theme but not centered on the United States.

In senior year all majors participate in the senior project seminar (390-1,2) and work on a thesis on a topic of their choice.  Students meet weekly with their project advisers, the seminar instructor, and fellow seniors to discuss their projects and common concerns.  Students whose senior theses and grades are judged to meet program criteria are recommneded to the college for graduation with honors.  For more information consult the program director.

AMER_ST 301-1,2,3: Seminar for Majors
Set of required courses structured to share a broad comparative or internationally oriented theme, integrating methods and materials from different disciplines.  Change of instructor each quarter; change of theme every theme every year.  Limited to 20 students.

AMER_ST 310-0: Studies in American Culture
Readings and discussions of topics in American cultural life - for example, law in 20th-century America or television news in contemporary US culture.  Limited enrollment with emphasis on student participation.  Prerequisites vary.  may be repeated for credit with consent from program director.

AMER_ST 390-1,2: Senior Project
Thesis or field study.  Required of majors.

AMER_ST 399-0: Independent Study
Reading and conferences on special subjects for students purusing their theme within the major.