Saint Louis University

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: 9 credit hours from the department core, plus 21 elective credit hours selected from American Studies course offerings and sometimes also from related fields.

The Department Core

  1. ASTD 1000: Investigating America (3 credit hours)
  2. Experience Component (3 credit hours) 
    • Service Learning Course or
    • Approved Internship for course credit (ASTD 4910)
  3. Capstone Course (3 credit hours)
    • ASTD 4100: Senior Seminar

Electives and Emphasis

In addition to the 9-credit department core, 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 (2 Options)

Through the major's experiential learning component, students gain opportunities to engage in the life of the community beyond campus. Students also develop skills and perspectives that prove valuable for future careers in fields related to American Studies. Majors fulfill this component for SLU course credit, working in close consultation with department faculty. All projects should have clearly defined purposes, goals, avenues of reflection, and outcomes.

Option 1: Service Learning Course

A service learning course is a course that contains a substantial project in service geared toward the community. Faculty mentors will help American Studies majors electing this option to identify relevant SLU courses incorporating robust service learning experiences. 

Option 2: Internships

An American Studies internship is taken as a 3-credit course (ASTD 4910), requiring a minimum of 50 hours per credit hour granted, or approximately 10 hours per week. St. Louis is rich in important institutions at which American Studies students have held internships, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Zoo, the 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. Internships are designed in close consultation with the department's internship director and participating organizations or institutions. The internship plan should be discussed and approved at least five months prior to the internship's start date.

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 Seminar course (ASTD 4100), 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.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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