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American Studies Major

The major in American Studies equips students with an interdisciplinary skill set for interpreting the cultural heritage and contemporary trends in the United States. The program may especially appeal to foreign students seeking to acquire a clear grasp of the American experience in order to apply that knowledge, for example, to a career in international business. Read below to learn more about the American Studies Major.

Potential Careers:

  • Journalism
  • Community development
  • Public policy
  • Foreign service

American Studies Faculty

American Studies Major

Please see the Program Requirements Disclaimer when planning your coursework.

Mission Statement

The major in American studies equips students with an interdisciplinary skill set for interpreting the cultural heritage and contemporary trends in the United States. The program is grounded in a close reading of primary texts supplemented by interpretive frameworks drawn from the disciplines of history, literary studies, political science, and sociology. Graduates with a B.A. in American studies thereby possess the skills needed for careers in journalism, community development, public policy, foreign service, and other fields requiring a comprehensive understanding of American life. A minor in American studies provides a supplement to other majors by enhancing the perspective that a student would bring to careers traditionally associated with a B.A. in business, communication, English, history, psychology, sociology, etc. The program may especially appeal to foreign students seeking to acquire a clear grasp of the American experience in order to apply that knowledge, for example, to a career in international business.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Cultural Literacy: To demonstrate basic cultural literacy of the era, genres, movements, and historical events pertinent to American identity, and to identify correctly allusions, excerpts from particular works, and works written by key authors.
  2. Historical Understanding: To explain the roles of people, ideas, institutions, and actions in shaping key developments in American history.
  3. Social Awareness: To identify and evaluate social concerns on the national level in a manner that demonstrates knowledge of basic definitions, concepts, and theories in sociology.
  4. Critical Thinking: To apply contemporary literary theories, historiography, and sociological theories to the interpretations of written and visual media in dialogue with pertinent concerns of the Christian faith.
  5. Communication Skills: To polish with professional competence a work of formal academic writing, including documentation in the accepted style of the discipline, and to present a summary of one’s research orally.

Entry into the Major

Students should declare American studies as their intended major as early in their college career as possible by filing a Declaration of Major and Change of Advisor form with the registrar. The student’s advisor should be from the English or sociology department, depending upon which of the three tracks the student intends to complete within the American studies major. At least one of the lower-division electives in each of those three areas should be completed with a grade of C+ or higher prior to application for the major. Students must also have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above.

Core Requirements

Required lower division courses:

Required upper division courses: 24 credits for the history track. For the English track, 21 upper division credits and 3 lower-division credits see ENGL 210 in the “capstone sequence,” below):

Choose one English elective:

Choose one History elective:

Choose one Religious Studies elective:

Required Art History course (3 credits):

Required Sociology course:

Capstone Track

English Track:

History Track:

American Studies Minor

The minor in American studies requires:

Three of:

Next Steps

Interested in American Studies at Bethany? Schedule your campus visit today, or learn more about becoming a Bethany student.