Major in American Studies

Major Course Requirements:

The American Studies major leading to a bachelor’s degree consists of 36 credits: 15 credits of American Studies core courses, 18 credits of coursework distributed across 3 core themes, and 3 credits of applied experience (internship, student teaching, service learning, applied research). A minor program is available for students majoring in other fields who wish to complete a concentration in American Studies. All courses applicable to the major or minor, excluding the applied experience, must carry a grade of C or above.

For a complete list of American Studies course descriptions, please consult the university catalog. GEP designations: Arts and Humanities [AH], Culture [C], Social Science [SS], and Writing Intensive [WI] are listed included in the course list below.

Minors: We offer a minor in American Studies, Asian American Studies, and host the CAHSS minor in public humanities.


American Studies Foundational Core (15 credits). The American Studies Foundational Core provides a foundation in the key research and writing practices of the discipline. Two lower-level courses (AMST 100 and 200) introduce students to fundamental American Studies concepts. Students build knowledge and engage in professional writing and research practices in an upper-level methods course (AMST 300), and one advanced seminar (a 400-level topics course), and a capstone research seminar (AMST 490).

  • AMST 100 Introduction to American Studies [AH]
  • AMST 200 What is an American? [AH or C]
  • AMST 300 Approaches in American Studies [WI]
  • AMST 400-level Seminar
  • AMST 490 Senior Seminar [WI]


Core Themes (Six upper-level courses, two in each of the core themes listed below, for a total of 18 credits). One 200-level course may be applied to the core themes. We suggest that one course in the core themes should be a 400-level seminar. Students select two courses exploring each theme from the following lists. A maximum of 9 credits from related disciplines may be applied to the Core Themes with the approval of the department. A maximum of 6 credits in independent study may be counted toward the major.

Core Themes A—U.S. Social Structures: American Regions, Institutions, and Communities. Courses in this category focus on particular institutional structures and practices that shape and are shaped by the experiences of individuals and social groups in American society.

  • AMST 310/GWST 310 Gender and Inequality in U.S. Society [AH]
  • AMST 317 Nonviolence and American Social Movements [SS]
  • AMST 320 Television in American Culture [AH]
  • AMST 326 On the Move: Public Transportation in Baltimore
  • AMST 350 Critical Decades
  • AMST 356 Special topics in U.S. Social Structures
  • AMST 380 Community in America [AH]
  • AMST 410 Seminar U.S. Social Structures
  • AMST 413 Policing & Prisons in U.S. Society
  • AMST 422 Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore
  • AMST 424 Theories of Space and Place
  • AMST 480 Community Research Seminar

Core Themes B—Global America: The U.S. in the World, The World in the United States. Courses in this category explore the relationships of America with other countries and cultures, including globalization, migrations, immigration, diasporic experiences in America, and transnational cultures.

  • AMST 245/GWST 245 Arab and Muslim Experiences in the U.S.
  • AMST 324 The Road Movie in America and Abroad
  • AMST 345 Indigenous Heritage: Issues of Representation and Ownership [AH or C]
  • AMST 352 American Culture in Global Perspective [AH or C]
  • AMST 357 Special Topics in Global America
  • AMST 372 American Food
  • AMST 375 Studies in Asian American Culture [AH or C]
  • AMST 403 Ethnography in America
  • AMST 420 Seminar in Global America

Core Themes C—American Signs: United States Literary, Visual, and Material Culture. Courses in this category provide interdisciplinary analysis of oral, written, visual, and material representations of American life and culture and the historical and social contexts in which they are produced and consumed.

  • AMST 322 American Culture in Film [AH]
  • AMST 323 Baltimore in Film
  • AMST 325 Studies in Popular Culture [AH]
  • AMST 358 Special Topics in American Signs
  • AMST 365 Asian American Fictions [AH or C]
  • AMST 376 The American Dream [AH]
  • AMST 395 American Music and Culture [C or SS]
  • AMST 430 Seminar in American Signs
  • AMST 464 Immigration Nation: Examining Narratives of Immigration to the U.S.


Applied Experience (3 credits: P/F or Regular Credit) includes internships, service learning,

undergraduate research, student teacher praxis, and AMST courses designed as applied research. Students in dual programs may fulfill this requirement by taking an approved applied experience course in the second department.

Some courses (such as AMST 422: Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore) fulfill the applied experience credit. Or you can do an internship advised by any fulltime professor in the department. Students are responsible for securing their internship in consultation with their advisor. All internships (AMST 498: section numbers vary according to advisor) have three basic requirements:

  1. 120 hours at the internship
  2. Regular (usually weekly) journal entries reflecting on the experience (including a tally of hours)
  3. Final project reflecting on the internship experience and relating it to issues in American studies (usually a paper but can be an innovative project)

Please talk to your advisor about completing an internship while at UMBC. The university also offers information on internships on the Jobs & Internships page and at the Shriver Center.

NOTE: All internships are taken with the Pass/Fail grading option, and therefore cannot be used toward the core or the emphasis area. They are variable credit and students must enter the 3 credits upon registration.


AMST 497: Independent Study

Students working with an American Studies faculty member as an advisor develop and execute an original research project. Please see your advisor for more information.