Program Overview

All students majoring in American Studies must take fourteen term courses approved by the program’s faculty. Although a good deal of freedom in course selection is permitted, it is expected that all students will acquaint themselves with the materials, skills, and perspectives of cultural studies. 

Accordingly, the major requires completion (preferably by the end of the sophomore year, but no later than the end of the junior year) of:

  • at least two foundation courses in cultural history/cultural studies,
  • a broad survey course in American literature, and
  • a course of preparatory work in the student’s area of concentration, to be selected in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. 

Please note: One of these four courses must address material produced before the Civil War.

An additional five concentration courses from diverse disciplines must be taken for a letter grade during a student’s course of study. Please note: One of these five courses must incorporate a comparable topic from a non-U.S. perspective. Also required: Two electives chosen from the American Studies course offerings.

During their junior year, American Studies students must take two upper-level seminars (300-399). Please note: At least one of these two seminars must fall within the student’s area of concentration. Students are expected to produce a significant paper of 20-25 pages in each of these two seminars. Students may also elect to take AMST 390b, an interdisciplinary methods course, in place of one of the required upper-level seminars. 

Majors are encouraged to pursue a junior term abroad. Sophomores contemplating a junior term abroad are urged to take an upper-level seminar in the spring of their sophomore year. Typically, students are able to fulfill their non-U.S. requirement in the area of concentration through a course taken abroad. Students interested in venturing abroad should consult the director of undergraduate studies about eligible courses for American studies credit.

During the senior year, each student in the major completes work in their area of concentration in one of three ways. Students may:

  • enroll in an upper level seminar within their area of concentration (AMST 400-490),
  • complete a one-term senior project or essay (AMST 491A or 491B), or
  • petition to enroll in the Intensive Major (AMST 493A and 494B) and work independently for two terms.

For additional information, please consult Yale College’s website on Undergraduate Curriculum and the Undergraduate Courses page on this site.