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Undergraduate Program


Our interdisciplinary program draws from the diversity of resources across William & Mary.

Our location provides access to foundational sites and resources.

As a nation born of immigration and encounter, the United States has always included diverse groups. Our diversity is a catalyst for endless social change and transformation. On one hand, Americans often splinter into rivaling sub-groups based on race, gender, and class. On the other, we take pride in participating in a society shaped by ideals of democracy and equality. This dissonance is fuel for wide ranging study.

You will learn to work with a wide array of methods, themes, and materials from several disciplines. American Study courses explore history, anthropology, sociology, gender, sexuality, Africana studies, and the arts. Our interdisciplinary approach encourages personal initiative and creative, critical thinking.

Our alumni pursue a rich variety of careers. Some have gone on to graduate work in american studies, history, and English; others have pursued careers in law, business, teaching, and museum fields. An American Studies degree is particularly appropriate for students planning careers in law, communications, government, social work, and journalism.

Major in American Studies

The American Studies Program offers a B.A. in American Studies. Our majors explore the commonalities and differences among Americans through an interdisciplinary course of studies.

You will work closely with your advisor to assemble a set of courses that represents the diversity of cultures and social forms within the United States and the Americas. You will choose which significant themes or questions to explore in depth. For example, you might examine

  • comparative perspectives on the United States
  • how major political movements are represented in art.
  • the American experience of industrial capitalism as a variant of a global phenomenon.
  • the evolution of attitudes towards sexual diversity among American populations.

We offer many opportunities for experiences outside the classroom and independent work. Our majors

  • Go on class field trips to nearby historic sites and museums.
  • Conduct research 
  • Do internships
  • Study abroad 
Major Advising

To declare a major in American Studies, ask one of our professors to serve as your advisor. If you don't know who to approach, talk to the Undergraduate Director

Minor in American Studies

It can feel like life in the United States is chaotic and out of control. An American Studies minor can help put current events into perspective, and give you the understanding and skills to be a prepared, active citizen. Like our major, the American Studies minor can be designed around a specific theme. Though a minor advisor is not required, we encourage you to discuss your plans with a professor who can help you select courses to meet your goals.

Get Started in American Studies

A degree in American Studies requires at least one "Introduction to American Studies" course. The courses that count towards this requirement are listed in the Undergraduate Catalog. You should take the course of your choice in your first year at W&M.

At least 20 of the 33 credits required for the major (our 13 of the 20 for the minor) must be in courses numbered 300 or above. Many 300-level courses have prerequisites. .

For High School Students

If you are a prospective American Studies major, we strongly recommend that you get a solid background in History, especially American History; and English, especially American Literature. Take the time to develop good writing skills. 

Explore your interests. American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that looks at issues through an American lens: American art, the experience of American immigrants, religious life in America... What excites you about life on this hemisphere beyond your high school classes? It might be possible to incorporate that passion in the work towards your bachelor's degree.

Pre-matriculation transfer and test credit

Though there are no standardized tests that would substitute for any introductory American Studies course, some of our more advanced courses have prerequisites that may be fulfilled through test credit. See the Undergraduate Catalog's chart detailing the credit or courses that may be exempted through standardized test scores.


American Studies offers courses at every level, from Freshman Seminars to 200-level introductory courses to upper division special topics seminars.  American Studies also cross-lists a number of courses offered by other departments. See the Undergraduate Catalog for all AMST courses. Not all courses are taught every semester, see the Open Course List for upcoming ones. 

Courses approved for the AMST major or minor

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field. This means that some of the courses you take as part of your degree will come from other disciplines. This list is to clarify which courses may fulfill specific degree requirements. It is not a complete list - course offerings are constantly evolving. 

There may be courses which you encounter across campus which are not listed here but which you may feel are relevant to an American Studies major or minor; you are invited to bring these course syllabi to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for consideration.

Courses that Meet the ALV Requirement for American Studies

Courses that have been approved for the ALV requirement include but are not limited to:

  • AMST 202. Cinema & the Modernization of US Culture
  • AMST 209.  Race, Literature and the Law: Interracialism
  • AMST 211.  The Age of Soul: Jazz, R&B, Rock n Roll in American Life
  • AMST 212.  Gender and Digital Culture
  • ARTH 383. Twentieth-Century American Art
  • DANC 220. History of Modern Dance
  • ENGL 371. Topics in American Literature*
  • ENSP 302. Philosophic History of American Environmentalism
  • HISP 207. Culturas de in(ex)clusión en el mundo hispánico
  • THEA 332. Sex, Race, Plays & Films, Dramatizing Diversity*
Courses that Meet the CSI Requirement for the American Studies

Courses that have been approved for the CSI requirement include but are not limited to:

  • AFST 205. Introduction to Africana Studies
  • AMST 203. American Medicine: A Social and Cultural History
  • ANTH 324. Native People of the American Southwest
  • HIST 224. Southern Cultures: Field Holler to Nascar
  • HIST 235-236. African-American History
  • RELG 346. Religion, the State, and American Politics
  • RELG 347.New Religious Movements in America
  • SOCL 304. Gender in Society*
  • SOCL 308. Environmental Sociology*
  • SOCL 361. Social Movements and Social Change*
Other Recommended Courses

If you think a course is relevant to the American Studies, please reach out to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for consideration of the class towards your major or minor. Past American Studies students have benefited from taking the following courses, among others:

  • AFST 425. Blacks in American Society
  • ENSP 440. Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy*
  • FILM 351. Special Topics in Film Studies*
  • HISP 207. Cross-Cultural Perspectives: The U.S. and the Spanish-Speaking World
  • HISP 380. Cultural Transformations: The Case of Cuba and Puerto Rico
  • GSWS 221-222. U.S. Women's History, 1600 -Present
  • GSWS 380. Rhymes with Witch
  • GSWS 414. Major African American Women Writers
  • GSWS 416. Literature and the Formation of Sexual Identity *
  • GSWS 420. Topics in Gender and Sexuality in Popular Culture

 * = these must be approved every semester, and they are approved only when the topics covered are substantially relevant to American Studies.

Talk to Us

Want to know more? Our faculty want to connect with you.

  • Undergraduate program: [[mlweis, Professor Lynn Weiss, Director of Undergraduate Studies]]