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American Studies

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School of Humanities and Sciences

An interdisciplinary undergraduate major that seeks to convey a broad understanding of American culture and society in all their complexity.

What You'll Study

The Program in American Studies is an interdisciplinary undergraduate major for independent thinkers.  The major  provides students with a multifaceted understanding of the United States in all its complexity and diversity. Rooted in courses in history and social sciences, literature and the arts, and race and ethnicity, it invites students to develop fresh, insightful interpretations of America‚Äôs past and present, while also preparing them for the future as deft critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers. 

The core requirements illustrate how different disciplines approach the study and interpretation of American life and include three courses in each of two main areas: History & Institutions; and Literature, Art, and Culture. The required gateway seminar, "Perspectives on American Identity," explores the tensions between commonality and difference from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Beyond the core requirements of the major, American Studies expects students to define and pursue their own interests in interpreting important dimensions of American life. Accordingly, each student designs a thematic concentration of at least five courses drawn from fields such as history, literature, art, communication, theater, political science, African American studies, feminist studies, economics, cultural and social anthropology, religious studies, Chicana/o studies, law, sociology, education, Native American studies, music, and film. At least one of the five courses in a student's thematic concentration should be a small group seminar or a colloquium. With program approval, students may conclude the major with a capstone honors research project during their senior year.

Degrees Offered

  • BA
  • Minor
  • Honors

More Information

Learn more about American Studies in the Stanford Bulletin

Exploratory Courses


Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (CSRE 108, FEMGEN 101, TAPS 108)


Imagining the American Frontier in Popular Culture and Fiction. (CSRE 114, FEMGEN 114A)


The American West (ARTHIST 152, ENGLISH 124, HISTORY 151, POLISCI 124A)


The Lost Generation: American literature between the World Wars (ENGLISH 125C)


Starstuff: Space and the American Imagination (ARTHIST 264B, FILMEDIA 264B)


Steinbeck (ENGLISH 146A)


Introduction to English II: American Literature and Culture to 1855 (ENGLISH 11B)


Women and Medicine in US History: Women as Patients, Healers and Doctors (FEMGEN 156H)


Perspectives on American Identity (ENGLISH 165)


Understanding Jews (JEWISHST 215)


Mark Twain and American Culture (ENGLISH 68N)