Curriculum Overview

The American Studies Program offers one of the most flexible majors in the College, enabling students to pursue innovative research that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Unlike other majors at Georgetown, American Studies takes 6 semesters to complete. This means that students begin their coursework for the major in the fall of their sophomore year. This early start helps to build an intellectual community among majors and prepares students for a year-long senior thesis project—two unique and important aspects of the American Studies major. To complete the major, students will take the following required and elective courses:

American Civilization (Civ I & II) – both required, taken as a sophomore 

These core courses are designed for sophomores who are very interested in pursuing the American Studies major.  Civ I is offered in the Fall; Civ II in the Spring.  These courses foster an intellectual community among students and core faculty in the program, and they introduce students to a broad range of approaches, interdisciplinary lenses, and historical time periods relevant to the field of American Studies.

History Courses - two required, ideally taken in first or second year 

The major in American Studies requires two history courses that provide context for the other core courses. We recommend HIST I80 (Fall) and HIST 181 (Spring), but students may choose from other pre-approved alternatives that fall within the ranges HIST 180-199 or HIST 280-299. We encourage students to choose one history course that covers pre-1865 and one that covers post-1865 America. We recommend that students fulfill the history requirement during the first or second year of undergraduate study. During the third and fourth years, students may wish to take other history courses as electives. Study abroad courses cannot fulfill the history requirements.

American Civilization III (Civ III) – taken as a junior

For a course to fulfill the Civ III requirement, students must take it during the junior year. These core courses are designed to build upon Civ I and II. Options in the fall and spring semesters allow juniors to study abroad and still complete the Civ III requirement during the junior year. Because Civ III courses also count as electives in the major, students may take as many as they like, as long as at least one is taken during the junior year.

American Civilization IV (Civ IV) - taken as a junior 

For a course to fulfill the Civ. IV requirement, students must take it during the junior year. Civ. IV courses enable juniors to learn about the field of American Studies in more specialized ways. Assignments in these courses prepare students to develop a senior thesis proposal. Options in the fall and spring semesters make it possible for juniors to study abroad and still complete the Civ. IV requirement during the junior year. Civ. IV may be taken simultaneously with Civ. III. Because Civ. IV courses also count as electives in the major, students may take as many as they like, as long as at least one is taken during the junior year.

American Studies Electives - 6 required, ideally including 2 Special Electives 

American Studies Electives allow students to follow their interests, develop expertise in areas potentially relevant to the senior thesis, and build relationships with potential thesis advisors. As students choose electives, they shape an individual concentration uniquely suited to their interests. As such, we encourage students to think creatively about elective courses and to challenge themselves by taking courses outside of their comfort zones. Students should consider approaching their areas of interest from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Electives may come from three different venues:

Special Electives — We recommend that students in the major complete at least two of these. Core faculty in American Studies teach these courses and design them with American Studies majors in mind.

Cross-Listed Courses – Choose AMST Electives from the 50+ cross-listed courses each semester; Special Electives are courses taught by core American Studies faculty that may be of particular interest.  

Study Abroad — We encourage students in the major to study abroad. Students may earn credit for up to 2 American Studies electives during a semester abroad, with special approval. Students should please inquire with the Program Manager for course-transfer criteria and other guidance about progressing through the major while abroad.

Other Courses – Perhaps a course is not cross-listed, but it is particularly suited to your interests, and can help inform your work on American culture (submit request, with written rationale, and copy of syllabus to Director and Dean)

Senior Thesis I and II – taken as a senior 

The senior thesis is a hallmark of Georgetown’s American Studies Program. The thesis seminar helps students to become independent scholars with deep expertise in their chosen areas of interest. This focused project complements the broader liberal arts education students receive at the College. The thesis experience sets American Studies majors apart from others as they seek employment or pursue postgraduate study.

A Note on Preregistration for American Studies Majors

During preregistration, American Studies majors get priority over non-majors in registration for courses with the AMST prefix. Students should declare the major as early as possible in order to receive this preference but should continue to prioritize course registration according to their individual goals. During preregistration, sophomores should not prioritize Civ. II, and seniors should not prioritize the senior thesis seminar: these course enrollments are completed by faculty permission and can be adjusted as necessary.