What courses will I take as an American Studies major?

American Studies, a twelve-course major (36 credits), uses interdisciplinary approaches to develop students’ knowledge and analytical skills. The interdisciplinary nature of the program makes it easy to double major. For the most recent version of the undergraduate catalog description, see this link.

Here is a breakdown of our major:

Methods Course:

  • AMST 201: Introduction to American Studies

Interdisciplinary Seminars (both required):

  • One 200-Level Seminar (besides AMST 201):
    • AMST 202: Special Topics Seminar—Seminar that explores a topic chosen by the instructor. It’s usually geared toward second-year students, but these courses are open for everyone.
    • AMST 203: American Protest—This seminar explores how social movements have demanded access to political, cultural, and economic institutions in order to generate change and promote social justice.
    • AMST 204: American Foodways—This seminar looks at the ways in which foodways relates to American society and culture in the past, present, and future. Students will have the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills and digital fluencies in this interdisciplinary course.
  • One 300-Level Seminar:
    • AMST 303: Special Topics Seminar—A seminar that explores a topic chosen by the instructor. It’s usually geared toward third-year students, but these courses are open for everyone.
      • AMST 303B: Virginia Studies—This seminar looks at the social, cultural, and political aspects of life in Virginia since the American Civil War.
      • AMST 303C: Civil Rights and American Memory—This seminar familiarizes students with the trajectory of the mid-century civil rights movement and its representation in public space today.
    • AMST 305: American Gender and Sexuality—This seminar explores the ways in which various disciplines discuss the behaviors and attitudes tied to gender and sexuality in the United States.
    • AMST 306: Museums in the US—This seminar explores the history of museums in the United States and examines how past practices inform ongoing debates, dilemmas, and opportunities in the field.

Electives: In addition to American Studies core courses, students will take eight electives to complete the major. To demonstrate the ability to transcend disciplinary boundaries, you will complete five thematically unified courses from affiliated disciplines approved by an American Studies advisor and the Program Director. To ensure breadth, no more than three of the eight elective courses may be from a single affiliated discipline. One of the electives must also deal with the United States prior to 1900; another must explore conceptualizations of race and/or gender.

Explore the exciting range of courses offered that qualify as electives for the major. Click here to see our list of electives for summer and fall 2021.

Disciplines Offering Electives:

American Studies History
Anthropology Interdisciplinary Studies
Art History Linguistics
Communication Music History and Literature
Economics Political Science
English Religion
Geography Sociology
Historic Preservation Women and Gender Studies

Senior Thesis:

  • AMST 485: Senior Thesis. An independent, semester-long project pursued under the supervision of an affiliated faculty member. Thesis research may be presented as a traditional paper or in other formats, like a documentary film or website.


  • AMST 499: Internship (optional). A wonderful way for students to learn about what careers that they might want to pursue upon graduation. Supervised off-campus experience, developed in consultation with the director of the program. Six credits may be taken but only three credits count in the major.

Learn more about internship opportunities for American Studies majors by reading about Lindsay Cutler’s and Mackenzie Hard’s experiences.