About the Department
The American Studies Program is an honors-track major that is interdisciplinary in its approach to American Studies. The major draws on a broad range of faculty from the humanities and social sciences so that students can examine components of U.S. culture, 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 conduct a senior research project, usually a thesis. Study abroad and upper level foreign language proficiency are encouraged. Freshmen and sophomores in Weinberg College and the School of Communication can apply for admission to the major early in spring quarter. Because this selective honors program has more applicants than available space, admission depends in part on academic distinction and on demonstrated interest in American cultural study in a broad context.
Since its inception in 1974, the program has drawn upon the expertise and guidance of dedicated instructors while allowing students the freedom to shape their course of study, culminating in their senior research project. In this way, the American Studies major successfully combines the advantages of a small and individualized program with the broad resources of a leading university. Among its other distinctive qualities are intellectually challenging seminars, a close working relationship between students and faculty, a strong focus on the development of the skills of analysis and expression, and an opportunity for every student to do a year-long independent research project.
The Program is located in Kresge Hall, where it has its own student lounge. Seniors pursuing their research also have access to a dedicated study room in the University Library.