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American Studies, B.A.

Saint Louis University's American studies program uses film, food, fashion, buildings, sports, popular media, the environment, art, literature and historical texts in order to understand the diverse cultures of the United States and its place in the world in the past and present.

  • American studies is interdisciplinary, using a variety of sources and methods (literature, social science, film and community institutions) to understand American cultures.
  • American studies is global and diverse, paying close attention to international and regional relations, as well as to the variety of racial, ethnic, religious and other communities within and around its borders.
  • American studies is practical, which means the everyday is taken as seriously as the esoteric, and the lessons learned in the classroom are applied to work in communities and public institutions.

As a result, SLU's American studies degree trains students in critical thinking, complex problem solving, and clear written and oral communication.  American studies graduates from SLU have experience working in diverse groups and applying their knowledge to the world around them.

These are sought-after skills transferable to a variety of fields. Graduates from SLU's American studies program have gone on to work in higher and secondary education, media and communications, nonprofit organizations, government, political organizing, social work, law, museums and other cultural institutions.

Curriculum Overview

A major in American studies is 30 credits, including ASTD 1000 Investigating America: An Introduction to American Studies (3 cr); a breadth requirement in “Contexts: Period and Place,” “Identities: Social Difference and Agency,” and “Practices: Cultural Forms and Interpretive Methods” (9 cr); and ASTD 4960 Senior Capstone (3 cr). The remaining 15 credits are selected from American studies courses. With the approval of a student’s faculty mentor, up to nine of these credits may be fulfilled by relevant courses offered outside of the Department of American Studies. At least one course taken for the major must have the department’s “Community Engagement” attribute.

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

Internships completed through SLU's American studies program are student-designed in close collaboration with the department's internship supervisor and participating organizations and institutions. Internships count as a three-credit course, requiring 120 hours total, or about eight hours per week. Past students have partnered with the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, International Institute, Missouri History Museum, Circuit Court Records Project, City Museum and Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, among other sites.


A degree in American studies provides a broad education that prepares graduates for careers that emphasize creative thinking, strong writing, critical analysis, clear communication, skilled research and civic and community engagement.

The following list is just a small sample of jobs for American studies graduates:

  • Curator
  • Editor
  • Exhibit designer
  • Foundation director
  • Grant writer
  • Journalist
  • Labor organizer
  • Lawyer
  • Librarian
  • Nonprofit management
  • Politician
  • Professor
  • Public policy analyst
  • Public relations
  • Social worker
  • Speechwriter
  • Teacher

Admission Requirements

Begin Your Application

Saint Louis University also accepts the Common Application.


All applications are thoroughly reviewed with the highest degree of individual care and consideration to all credentials that are submitted. Solid academic performance in college preparatory coursework is a primary concern in reviewing a freshman applicant’s file.

To be considered for admission to any Saint Louis University undergraduate program, applicants must be graduating from an accredited high school, have an acceptable HiSET exam score or take the General Education Development (GED) test. 


Applicants must be a graduate of an accredited high school or have an acceptable score on the GED.

Students who have attempted fewer than 24 semester credits (or 30 quarter credits) of college credit must follow the above freshmen admission requirements. Students who have completed 24 or more semester credits (or 30 quarter credits) of college credit must submit transcripts from all previously attended college(s).

In reviewing a transfer applicant’s file, the Office of Admission holistically examines the student’s academic performance in college-level coursework as an indicator of the student’s ability to meet the academic rigors of Saint Louis University. Where applicable, transfer students will be evaluated on any courses outlined in the continuation standards of their preferred major.

International Applicants

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

There are two principal ways to help finance a Saint Louis University education:

  • Scholarships: Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, service, leadership and financial need.
  • Financial Aid: Financial aid is provided in the form of grants and loans, some of which require repayment.

For priority consideration for merit-based scholarships, apply for admission by Dec. 1 and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1.

For information on other scholarships and financial aid, visit the student financial services office online at

  1. Graduates will be able to explain the development and contexts of American cultures and ideas.
  2. Graduates will be able to comprehend the diversity of American cultures and experiences both within the nation-state and abroad.
  3. Graduates will be able to practice interdisciplinary research methods in the study of American cultures through critical interpretation of a wide variety of artifacts, such as material, visual, literary and popular.
  4. Graduates will be able to articulate arguments and information effectively in writing and presentations.
  5. Graduates will be able to synthesize American studies knowledge with surrounding communities and public life, particularly in service of questions of social justice and solidarity.

American Studies students must complete a minimum total of 30 credits for the major.

Core Requirements
College core requirements57-66
For additional information about core courses
Introductory American Studies Course
ASTD 1000Investigating America: An Introduction to American Studies3
Breadth Requirement9
Students must take at least one 3-credit course in each of the following attribute categories: “Contexts: Period and Place,” “Identities: Social Difference and Agency” and “Practices: Cultural Forms and Interpretive Methods.”
Examples of courses with a "Contexts" attribute include the following:
ASTD 2300
Americans Abroad
ASTD 2600
American Places
ASTD 3000
American Decades
ASTD 3100
Making the American City: Culture, Space, & 20th-century U.S. Urbanisms
ASTD 3200
The Urban Crisis
Examples of courses with an "Identities" attribute include the following:
ASTD 2700
Gender, Race, Social Justice
ASTD 3400
Prisons in American Culture
ASTD 3500
Religion & American Culture
Examples of courses with a "Practices" attribute include the following:
ASTD 2100
Studies in American Photography
ASTD 3020
American Mosaic: Literature & Diversity
ASTD 3050
American Soundscapes
Capstone Course
ASTD 4960Senior Capstone3
American Studies Elective Courses15
Students are encouraged to work with their faculty mentors to devise a thematic or disciplinary emphasis; with approval of a student’s faculty mentor, up to 9 of these credits may be fulfilled by relevant courses offered outside the Department of American Studies.
Community Engagement
Examples of courses with a "Community Engagement" attribute include the following:
ASTD 4910
An approved service-learning course
General Electives24-33
Total Credits120

Continuation Standards

Students who pursue a major in American studies must earn a 2.00 GPA in the courses approved for completion of the major. If a student's major GPA drops below 2.00, the student will be placed on academic program probation within the department. A student may remain on academic probation for no more than two consecutive semesters, or for three semesters total, before being dismissed from the major.

Bachelor of Arts Core Curriculum Requirements

Please note: beginning in Fall 2022, all incoming SLU undergraduates—regardless of major, program, college or school—will complete the University Core curriculum. You can find more information about SLU’s common Core here:
Core Components and Credits
Foundations of Discourse3
Diversity in the U.S.3
Global Citizenship3
Foreign Language0-9
Fine Arts3
Natural Science6
Social Science6
World History6
Total Credits57-66

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete a minimum of 120 credits (excluding pre-college level courses numbered below 1000).
  • Complete either the College of Arts and Sciences Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Core Curriculum Requirements
  • Complete major requirements: minimum 30 credits required.
  • Complete remaining credits with a second major, minor, certificate, and/or electives to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for graduation.
  • Courses listed under the intensive English program do not count toward graduation requirements. EAP 1500 College Composition for International Students (3 cr), EAP 1900 Rhetoric & Research Strategies (3 cr) and EAP 2850 Nation, Identity and Literature (3 cr) count toward graduation requirements as equivalents to Department of English courses.

    In addition to those courses, six credits from EAP/MLNG courses at the 1000 level or higher may count toward graduation requirements
  • Achieve at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average, a 2.00 grade point average in the major(s) and a 2.00 grade point average in the minor/certificate, or related elective credits.
  • Complete department/program-specific academic and performance requirements.
  • Complete at least 50% of the coursework for the major and 75% for the minor/certificate through Saint Louis University or an approved study abroad program.
  • Complete 30 of the final 36 credits through Saint Louis University or an approved study abroad program.
  • Complete an online degree application by the required University deadline.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
ASTD 1000 Investigating America: An Introduction to American Studies 1 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
Elective 3
Elective 3
ASTD "Contexts" Breadth Requirement 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
Elective 3
Year Two
ASTD "Identities" Breadth Requirement 3
ASTD Elective 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
ASTD "Practices" Breadth Requirement 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
Elective 3
Year Three
ASTD 4910 Internship (Or another course with an ASTD “Community Engagement” attribute) 3
ASTD Elective 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
ASTD Elective 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
Elective 3
Year Four
ASTD Elective 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
Elective 3
Elective 3
ASTD 4960 Senior Capstone 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
Elective 3
Elective 3
 Total Credits120

Program Notes

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field; as a result, many ASTD courses satisfy A&S core curriculum requirements. These may include Cultural Diversity in the United States, Global Citizenship, Literature, Social Science, and Fine Arts, among others. American Studies majors may count courses for both their major requirements and core curriculum requirements, which would modify the roadmap above.

With the approval of a major’s faculty mentor, nine of the “ASTD Elective” credits listed above may be fulfilled by relevant courses offered outside the Department of American Studies.