As a student in the Department of American Studies, you can connect with faculty, study contemporary and historic topics from a variety of perspectives, and bridge your classroom work to local and global communities.
For majors and minors—as well as for undergraduates who move through our classes—our department constitutes a close, engaged intellectual and social community within the larger university. As such, we contribute to the university’s retention efforts and its effort to, in the words of the University mission, build “a sense of community [for students] that facilitates their development as men and women for others.”
Our courses reflect our commitment to helping students develop rigorous, interdisciplinary research and writing skills while also encouraging them to think about the intersections between their academic work and service to their community.
Undergraduate Mentoring Resources
Undergraduate students in the department of American studies benefit from one-on-one mentorships with faculty members. Students who declare a major or minor in American studies are matched up with a faculty mentor who shares some of their key academic interests. Through in-depth conversations about each student’s intellectual aspirations and creative passions, faculty mentors get to know their advisees as individuals – not just numbers on a spreadsheet. Students and mentors work together to make each student’s experience unique – and each student’s faculty member is available throughout his or her time in the department for discussions about career goals and priorities.
With help from their faculty mentors, American Studies majors have presented papers at national undergraduate research conferences, successfully applied for grants to visit far-off archives, published their writing in student research journals and developed individually tailored internship experiences. The department also provides intensive academic mentorship through the senior-year capstone process.
American studies undergraduates have opportunities to learn about a variety of potential career paths—and to speak with creative professionals in public humanities, media, non-profit organizations and other exciting fields—through the department's ongoing mentorship series, "How Did You Get Your Awesome Job?"
Every semester, students travel with faculty members to a specific employment site in St. Louis, where they meet interesting people who have carved out innovative careers in areas related to American studies. Students learn from employees about what they do, how they got involved and how current American studies students can take similar paths. Past sites have included the St. Louis Mercantile Library, the Missouri History Museum and KDHX Radio.
Study Abroad Opportunities
Exposure to international perspectives challenges and deepens our understanding of American culture. For this reason, the department encourages students, when possible, to spend a semester or year abroad. Saint Louis University maintains a campus in Madrid, Spain, and the American Studies Department offers semesters abroad at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
For information on study abroad opportunities, visit the Office of International Services in Des Peres Hall 102. To learn more about how to fit a semester or year abroad into your American Studies major schedule, make an appointment with Heidi Ardizzone, Ph.D., at 314-977-7212.
The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of American Studies have several opportunities for students to request funding to travel for research purposes, attend conferences, visit museums, or support other academic endeavors.
American Studies Alumni Research Fund
The American Studies Alumni Research Fund at SLU offers financial support for research travel undertaken by current American studies graduate students and undergraduate students. This support is made possible in large part through the generosity of SLU American studies alumni donors.
Grants totaling up to $1,000 per year, with a maximum per recipient of $500, are awarded. The department faculty reviews applications in fall and in spring. Awards are made in the spring semester only if the fund has not been exhausted during the preceding fall semester's application cycle.
Preference is given to applications proposing research travel with a clear relationship to a significant requirement within the applicant's program of study (e.g. senior capstone project, M.A. thesis, pre-dissertation exploratory work, or Ph.D. dissertation research).
- October 1: Fall-semester award cycle
- February 1: Spring-semester award cycle
If a listed due date falls on a weekend or a University holiday, applications will instead be due on the University's next regular business day.
Applications are considered on a competitive basis. To apply, send the department chairperson a proposal containing:
- Your name and contact information
- The title of your research project, a brief abstract and an explanation of the project's relationship to your trajectory through your American studies degree program
- Projected dates of travel
- The archive(s) you will visit or the other research activity requiring travel
- Which collections you expect to examine, or what other primary sources you expect to consult or collect, and an explanation of these sources' relevance to your project
- An itemized funding request, along with a basic budget showing cost estimates for travel, lodging and research expenses
Travel expenses are on a reimbursement basis. Coordinate with the department administrative secretary before incurring any expenses for which you expect reimbursement. All funded travel must be completed within six months of your original application due date. Recipients must submit a one-page report to the department chairperson within one month of the completion of the funded travel.