Requirements of the Major

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:

Note: Effective Fall 2023, all main campus courses have been renumbered using a new 4-digit numbering system.

The American Studies major consists of 14 courses:

Sophomore year, two core courses:

These foundational courses foster a common language and set of methodological approaches to interdisciplinary work.  Students engage critically with a variety of texts that expose cultural dispositions towards race, religion, gender, class, and diversity throughout various periods of American history.

Junior year, two core courses:

These core courses, taught by American Studies faculty, build on the knowledge and methods that students learn in the foundational courses and help students prepare for the rigor of the senior thesis.

Senior year, two core courses:

During this year-long sequence, students develop expertise that complements the broad and interdisciplinary approaches of the major. They hone their skills in project and time management; design a research project; collect and analyze primary and secondary sources; and build confidence as they articulate and present their conclusions.  Students may write an original essay of approximately 60-80 pages, or they may present their research in an alternative form, such as a short documentary film, website, or a digital story. This process of producing a substantive piece of scholarship helps students prepare to move from college to the professional world.

At any time during the three-year major:

2 American history courses: 
History courses help students develop an understanding of how social, economic, and political forces have shaped ideas, conflicts, policies, and everyday life in the U.S. over time. 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 their first or second year of undergraduate study.

6 electives chosen from an extensive list provided each semester, with courses from art history, American history, literature and media studies, sociology, and other fields

Electives enable students to explore American cultures in both deep and wide ways. Students are encouraged to select electives intentionally, with an eye to developing significant knowledge of a central theme, cultural form, or period. This can help students prepare for the senior thesis as well as for future careers.

A Note on Reserved Seats for American Studies Majors
Live registration no longer allows students to prioritize certain classes, but we have reserved seats for declared American Studies majors in our junior-level core classes. If you have not declared American Studies prior to registering for your junior year classes, you will not be able to access these seats.