American Studies majors are required to take ten courses plus complete a senior project. The American Studies major includes two specific course requirements and eight other courses on American culture and society. These elective courses can be chosen, in close consultation with an advisor, from courses offered in many other departments in addition to American Studies.  The American Studies major offers enormous flexibility for interdisciplinary exploration.

American Studies 111/112

American Studies 111:  Global Valley uses analysis of the Connecticut River Valley’s history and culture as an introduction to American Studies methods.

American Studies 112:  The City similarly explores the imagined and conflicted experience of urban life in the United States through study of a single urban center such as New York or Los Angeles.

Either course is required of all majors.

American Studies 468

This seminar on research methods in American Studies is offered every spring semester and should be taken during the junior year. A student planning to be abroad in the spring of his/her junior year should take this course as a sophomore.

Community-Based Learning

All majors are required to take one course that not only studies but engages with American society through a significant community-based learning component. American Studies 221, “Building Community” is offered every spring semester and fulfills this requirement. With the approval of the student’s American Studies advisor, the requirement can also be met by other community-based learning courses taught at Amherst or across the Five College consortium. These links access full lists of each semester’s community-based learning courses at  Amherst College and across the Five College Consortium.

America Before the 20th Century

All American Studies Majors must take three courses with significant pre-1900 content. These might include a history course on some aspect of early America or the nineteenth century, a course on American literature, a course on pre-20th century American art or architecture, a Black Studies course on slavery or Reconstruction, a Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies course focused on these centuries, an Environmental Studies course on land use, an American Studies course on Native cultures, a Political Science course on the nation’s founding— any course that pays significant attention to America before the 20th century. Global Valley as well may count towards this requirement.


At least three, and no more than four, of the ten courses required for the major should be devoted to a single theme or academic discipline. For example, a student might have a concentration in Asian American Studies, Latino Studies, Native American Studies, sexuality, urban studies, or in literature, history, economics, or political science, or film and media.

Senior Project

In their senior year all American Studies majors will complete an interdisciplinary independent project closely supervised by a faculty advisor.  A student may choose to enroll in AMST 498 or 499 to produce a senior thesis, necessary to be considered for honors; or can choose to enroll in AMST 496 to produce a one-semester capstone project—either a shorter essay or some other form of independent interdisciplinary research and production.  In both cases, the senior project serves as the grounds for a comprehensive evaluation of each student's achievement in the major.

Use this form to keep track of your American Studies requirements: