- Undergraduate Information
Degree Requirements for Majors and Minors
MINOR IN AMERICAN STUDIES
The American Studies minor consists of 18 total credit hours. To complete an American Studies minor, a student takes the department's introductory course—ASTD 1000: Investigating America (3 credit hours)—plus 15 additional credit hours of American Studies elective coursework.
With the faculty mentor's advance approval, 6 of the 15 elective credit hours may be selected from relevant courses offered by other departments or programs. However, courses from other departments or programs will only be considered for credit toward the American Studies minor if they are not also being counted toward another major or minor. Minors are welcome, though not required, to participate in other activities required for the major, including American Studies internships developed for course credit and the department's senior capstone course.
MAJOR IN AMERICAN STUDIES
The American Studies major consists of 30 total credit hours, including:
1. ASTD 1000: Investigating America (3 credits)
2. Experiential Learning Component (3 credits)
Option 1: Approved Service Learning Course (3 credits) or
Option 2: ASTD 4910: Internship (3 credits)
3. ASTD 4960: Senior Capstone (3 credits)
In addition, majors take 21 credit hours of American Studies electives. With the faculty mentor's advance approval, 9 of those 21 credits may be selected from relevant courses offered by other departments or programs. However, courses from other departments or programs will only be considered for credit toward the American Studies major if they are not also being counted toward another major or minor.
Students are encouraged to work with their faculty mentors to build into their American Studies curriculum a cluster of courses that cohere around a particular thematic or methodological emphasis. 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.
Experiential Learning Component
Experiential learning challenges students to expand their knowledge beyond the classroom by performing dedicated work off campus. The goal is to build connections between what students do in their American Studies courses and the practical and intellectual challenges outside of them. To do so provides applied experience and skills while connecting in a sustained and meaningful way with the Jesuit mission of Saint Louis University.
All American Studies undergraduate majors will complete 3 credit hours for the Experiential Learning Component of their degree. This can either be through an approved Service Learning Course or Internship. Undergraduate minors are not required to pursue experiential learning, but they are welcome to do so as an elective.
Service Learning courses feature a substantial community-based project. For example, as part of a course on farming in American culture, students worked with a local nonprofit devoted to providing fresh produce to underserved urban areas. They developed and implemented an oral history project that investigated inner-city residents' attitudes toward the new urban gardens in their neighborhoods. In another class on cross-cultural studies, students researched and interviewed the former parishioners of a small church near campus that a local art institution was turning into a public art space, with the goal of ensuring the revitalization project would include local voices and stories.
An internship is a 3-credit course, which requires student work at a partner institution for a minimum of 50 hours per credit, or 10 hours per week. American Studies students have held internships at institutions like the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Missouri History Museum, the Circuit Court Records Project, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the International Institute, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the City Museum-just to name a few.
The Capstone Project
Each American Studies major completes a capstone project during the final spring semester of study. Students develop these projects in the Senior Capstone course (ASTD 4960), working closely with the seminar's faculty leader and participating peers. These projects enable students to put forth their best scholarly and creative work as a final product of their American Studies undergraduate education. Generally, the capstone project takes the form of a 30–40 page research essay, though students are also free to propose projects in mediums such as creative writing, documentary film, audio production, museum exhibitions, performance, photography, painting, sculpture, or web design. See examples of past American Studies capstone projects.
Accelerated Bachelor's/Master's Option
American Studies majors are invited to consider applying to participate in the department's Accelerated BA/MA program. Such applications must be made in the fall semester of the student's junior year.