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American Studies

American studies uses the things all around us to explain the diverse cultures of the United States and the nation's past and present place in the world. It examines everything from art, literature, historical texts and news to fashion, food and popular entertainment.


Major in American Studies

Students at SLU are not confined to studying only what Americans do in the U.S., nor do they focus on a single culture. Instead, our students become deeply engaged in the way that that the nation’s many communities, cultures, and political and economic relationships cross boundaries and are shaped by interaction.

Saint Louis University's American studies department takes an interdisciplinary approach to the historical study of the cultures of the United States. Exceptional students may also apply for SLU's accelerated five-year Bachelor of Arts in American studies and Master of Arts in American studies in their junior year.

If you choose American studies, you'll be prepared for a career that emphasizes creativity, writing, analysis, communication, research and civic engagement.

Full Curriculum

The major consists of 30 total credit hours: nine credit hours from the department core, plus 21 additional credit hours selected either from American studies or related fields. Courses include:

  • ASTD 1000: Investigating America
  • ASTD 4910: American Studies Internship or a service learning course
  • ASTD 4960: Senior Capstone

Students are encouraged to work with their faculty mentors to build into their American studies curriculum a cluster of courses that focus on a particular topic or method of research. A thematic emphasis might be organized around a broad concern such as American identities, visual culture, religious experience, the U.S. city, work and labor, transnationalism, popular culture, or social movements. A methodological emphasis might be organized around a particular research approach or theoretical perspective, such as literary criticism, oral history, museum-based display, feminist theory and criticism, musicology, ethnography, or visual-studies analysis.

Internships and Careers

SLU graduates with degrees in American studies have careers in museums, government, law, media and education. American studies training can also be used for work in public relations, marketing, advertising, diversity outreach and tourism. Foundations, agencies, arts institutions and nonprofit organizations value the broad education students receive in American studies. They serve as professors, curators, exhibit designers, foundation directors, grant writers, housing advocates, journalists, labor organizers, lawyers, public policy analysts, public relations specialists, radio producers, ministers, politicians, priests, speech writers, teachers, web designers, art educators, and book editors.

SLU American studies students have held internships at the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri History Museum, Circuit Court Records Project, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the City Museum, among other sites. An internship is treated like a three-credit course, requiring a minimum of 50 hours per each credit or 10 hours per week.

All internships are designed in close consultation with the department’s internship adviser and participating organizations or institutions.


SLU’s award-winning faculty are trained specifically in American studies. All have worked extensively in the field as scholars, teachers, curators or creative artists.

  • Heidi Ardizzone, Ph.D. department chair
  • Benjamin Looker, Ph.D.
  • Emily Lutenski, Ph.D.
  • Matthew Mancini, Ph.D.
  • Kate Moran, Ph.D.
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
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Minor in American Studies

To complete an American studies minor, students take the department's introductory course — ASTD 1000: Investigating America (three credit hours) — plus 15 additional credit hours of American studies elective coursework.

Undergraduate Mentoring

A Dedicated Faculty Mentor

Upon declaring a major or minor, American studies students are matched with faculty mentors who share some of their key academic interests. Students and their mentors work together to create a unique plan of study. Across a student's time in the department, her or his faculty mentor is always available for discussions about career goals and priorities.