Study Abroad in American Studies

Updated February 2019


Before you start: If you want to study abroad, you need to declare yourself as an American Studies major. In order to do this, you must fill out and submit the appropriate paperwork to the Dean’s office, and you must fill out and submit the American Studies Planning Document for Majors. Only once you are declared as an American Studies major and have discussed your Planning Document with your AMST adviser will you be able to have your study abroad meetings. This is important because your study abroad experience will be profoundly influenced by your American Studies work, and you should be sure about it. You can find instructions on how to declare your major and the Planning Document at:

1.     When deciding to do study abroad, and selecting a region or program it is important to take a “Big Picture” view and get as much advice as possible. Once you’ve selected your region or program with the help of the Office for Global Education (who may be able to help you navigate individual program deadlines and course listings), make an appointment with the American Studies Study Abroad Point Person (Colva Weissenstein). If you would like to spend more than a single semester abroad, you need to plan this as early as possible. If you intend to spend more than a single semester abroad during your junior year, planning should begin during the spring of your sophomore year.

Things to Bring (to  your meeting with Colva before you go)

–       A sense of how your study abroad experience will tie into your American Studies goals.

–      Your Study Abroad Proposal Form (this outlines the courses you *think* you’d like to take and can be found at the Dean’s Office. If you don’t feel ready for this step at your first meeting, we can set up a second meeting. But this form MUST be signed by the AMST S.A. Point Person and your Dean.)

There are overseas programs that have American Studies departments and courses that will give you a sense of how America is studied overseas.  There are also overseas programs that have no clear tie at all to the United States or the field of American Studies. These too can be quite edifying if you’re interested in comparing cultures and immersing yourself in foreign environments.  Consider how you may tie courses of interest to your American Studies goals.

2.     Submit the Study Abroad Proposal Form. This will need to be signed by the AMST S.A Point Person and your Dean. This will be submitted with your Study Abroad application.

The Study Abroad Proposal Form will allow you to list the proposed courses you’d like to take. List as many as you are interested in, as you may not be able to take the exact courses you planned on taking. It’s better to list more courses. Also, make sure you have an understanding of how each of your proposed courses would work as American Studies electives. Remember that listing a course on your Study Abroad Proposal Form does not mean that the course will automatically count for credit when you return. You must follow up upon your return in order for your courses to count for credit in American Studies.

3.     Go forth! You’re studying abroad, enjoy yourself, explore, and follow your interests.  It is okay to take courses or approach your assignments differently from what you planned before you left, keep your American Studies backpack of tools, and the lessons you learned in AMST 203  and AMST 204 close at hand. You’ll work through the implications of this when you get home, or via email with the AMST S.A Point Person. Please keep copies of your syllabi, your term papers, and assignments. Also, keep in touch with us – consider sending pictures and a story about your experience that we can post on our website under Student Profiles. We love hearing about your adventures!

4.   Once you get home; Initiate the Transfer of Credits:  Getting your courses to transfer is in your court. This is your responsibility.  The courses you put on your Study Abroad Proposal Form will NOT automatically transfer.  You must make an appointment with the AMST S.A. Point Person. You must have this meeting and get your signed paperwork to your Dean prior to the end of the add/drop period.

Things to Bring:

–       Your filled out Evaluation of Transfer Credit Form.

–       Copies of your syllabi, final papers, course materials, assignments, and any other materials to justify the rationale for your courses being counted for AMST electives.

–       A sense of how to explain, clearly and rationally how your courses work as AMST courses.

5.     Finalize Transfer of Credits:  Once you’ve gotten approval from the American Studies study abroad point person, bring your Evaluation of Transfer Credit Form, filled out and signed, to your Dean for final approval.  Double-check your transcript and follow up with your Dean if you have questions.


Your study abroad experience can be very helpful for your American Studies major. You may count up to two courses per semester abroad as American Studies upper-level elective credit.  You may not count study abroad courses towards your American Studies history requirement or your other American Studies course requirements.  Counting these courses toward your major requirements as AMST electives is contingent on two main factors:

1.     You have a reasonable, responsible rationale as to why these are American Studies courses.

2.     You provide clear, accessible, adequate documentation to support your rationale.

Courses fall into three broad categories:

1.     Courses which are obviously American Studies courses:

These courses may be taken in an American Studies Program abroad, they may have very similar counterparts at Georgetown, and they may be about America, American history, culture, or society. For these courses you will need to provide, at the least, a title and description of the course, and the syllabus of the course. You will also need to be able to discuss the course.

For example: American Jazz Culture, American Civil War History, etc.

2.     Courses that are not obviously American Studies courses, but your coursework and final papers are American Studies centric:

These courses may not be explicitly about American culture, but because of the way you did your coursework, or the topic you selected for your final paper – the work you did in the course was American Studies work.  You may have to talk to your professors for these courses and ask if you can modify your paper topics to include an American spin. If the coursework was not done in English, please provide translated versions of your papers and work.

For example: If you took a course on Apartheid in South Africa where you wrote your final paper on American activists involvement in the apartheid struggle, or a course on Shakespeare in film and you wrote your final paper on American cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare and how they reflect American society, you would submit these final papers for evaluation. For these courses you will need to provide a title and course description, the syllabus, any relevant coursework, and your American Studies centric final paper, as well as be able to discuss the course.  

3.     Courses that are not obviously American Studies but have direct and meaningful ties to your thesis topic:

This is the category that requires the most justification.

For example, if you took a course on women’s issues in modern India, and you want to write your thesis on the experience of Indian-American women in the US, or if you took a course on education policy in urban centers in Brazil, and you want to write a comparative thesis on education in South America and the Midwest these courses could count for credit because of their ties to your thesis. For these courses, you will need to provide a title and course description, the syllabus, any relevant coursework, and a 3-page, double-spaced reflection essay in which you articulate the connections to your thesis and the ways in which the course informs and supports your thesis work/topic/research.