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Requirements for a Major in American Studies
The American Studies major combines interdisciplinary methods to study US culture in its regional, national, and global forms.
To declare an American Studies major, students must have completed at least one university-level (i.e. UVA or college transfer) course in American history or culture, broadly defined (including literature, music, religion, art, anthropology, etc.), with a grade of C or better. AP and IB courses do not satisfy this prerequisite. Students are encouraged to declare the major in their 2nd or 3rd year of study. Students interested in declaring should bring a College declaration form to the office hours of the American Studies Director of Undergraduate Programs or the Director of American Studies (all hours are listed on the program website). The Director will assign an appropriate faculty advisor who will work with the student to complete a major declaration form. Declaration forms will be processed only in the Fall and Spring semesters.
The American Studies major requires a minimum of 10 courses (30 credits).
Distinguished Majors Program
The Distinguished Majors Program provides a selected group of exceptionally qualified students the opportunity to complete original and significant research on a specific area of interest. Selection for the DMP is a process that takes into account the student’s GPA, intellectual interests, and plans for study. The deadline for submitting application material is in the spring semester of the 3rd year; the exact date will shift slightly from year to year and will be posted on the department website.
In close consultation with a faculty advisor, DMP students will design a research topic for independent thesis work during their fourth year. These students must hold a cumulative minimum GPA of 3.4 to qualify for the DMP program and must maintain it to qualify for graduation with distinction. DMP students take an independent study in the fall of their fourth year with a faculty advisor. In the spring of their fourth year they must enroll in AMST 4999, the Distinguished Majors Thesis Seminar, with the DMP Director. Throughout the fourth year the DMP student will craft a critical argument, researching and writing on topics that engage in the contemporary study of American culture. DMP students demonstrate intellectual rigor and a strong work ethic. The end result is a substantive piece of scholarship, a thesis of approximately fifty pages in length. Please contact the American Studies Director or the Director of Undergraduate Programs for more information.
Students must complete with a grade of C or better
Drawing on the University of Virginia’s unique and historic strength in the study of the US South, students in the Southern Studies concentration pursue their interests in the region across multiple disciplines, including English, music, history, art history, film studies, the history of photography, and architectural history. Recent students in this concentration have conducted their own research on southern foodways, applied comparative approaches to the study of southern literatures, designed and conducted oral history projects, investigated the history of local music, and made documentary films.
American Studies faculty members with expertise in this area include Anna Brickhouse, Jennifer Greeson, and Grace Hale.
Students concentrating in Southern Studies must take at least 2 courses from the following Core classes. The 2 courses must be from different departments.
Popular and Visual Culture
The Popular and Visual Culture concentration explores contemporary or historical artifacts of US popular culture and visual images in their expanding variety. Recent students interested in popular culture have worked on digital and social media (blogging, Twitter, Instagram), popular music (country music, alt rock, hip hop), genre fiction from crime to YA, and consumer culture (including advertising, the fashion industry, and the intersection of technology and style).
Students interested in visual culture have worked on photography and popular uses of photographic images, film studies including the impact of Hollywood cinema, and visual aesthetics across the mediums of paintings, drawings, and lithographs. Students in this concentration pursue their intellectual interests in American Studies and across the disciplines of art history, studio art, music, media studies, and literature.
Faculty members with particular expertise in this concentration include Sylvia Chong, Camilla Fojas, Lisa Goff, Grace Hale, Jack Hamilton, Matt Hedstrom, Carmenita Higginbotham, Carmen Lamas, and Sandhya Shukla.
Students concentrating in Popular and Visual Culture must take at least 2 courses from the following Core classes. One must fulfill a Popular Culture requirement and one must fulfill a Visual Culture requirement. The 2 courses must be from different departments.
Race and Ethnicity
The Race and Ethnicity concentration enables students to examine the relationship between race and ethnicity and US cultures in a global and interdisciplinary framework. Students can develop depth of knowledge, researching in comparative and historical terms specific racial or ethnic identities within the US and in other parts of the world. Alternately, students can pursue a comparative approach, examining commonalities and differences across Asian American, African American, Latino/a American, American Indian, and other racial and ethnic cultural formations. Only American Studies offers this comparative and global approach.
Recent students have examined Spanish-language popular music and television programming across the Americas, African Americans and the global popularity of hip hop and the blues, Black Power and Afrocentric movements in the US South, American Indians in Virginia, and images of Asian Americans in the last half century of Hollywood Cinema.
Faculty members with particular expertise in this area include Lawrie Balfour, Anna Brickhouse, Sylvia Chong, Marlene Daut, Camilla Fojas, Jennifer Greeson, Grace Hale, Jack Hamilton, Carmenita Higginbotham, Carmen Lamas, and Sandhya Shukla.
Students concentrating in Race and Ethnicity must take at least 2 courses from the following Core classes.
Student - Designed
American Studies students with a particular interest not covered by the aforementioned concentrations may design their own concentration. Working closely with American Studies faculty members, students may design, propose and execute their own academic plan.
The Self-Designed concentration includes consulting with faculty on a specific topic, selecting Core courses that will shape this academic specialty, and identifying electives that will provide a comprehensive and rigorous understanding of a specific field of interest.
Previous Self-Designed concentration topics have included Consumer Culture, Gender and Sexuality, Native American Studies, Transnationalism, and Social Media.
If you are interested in a Self-Designed concentration, please contact the American Studies Director of Undergraduate Programs.
Minor in Asian Pacific American Studies
Students are required to complete a minimum of six courses (18 credits) for the Asian Pacific American Studies minor. Students must complete three required courses and three electives. No more than three courses (9 credits) can come from the same department. No courses taken for the minor may be double-counted towards another major. No more than one course taken outside of UVa (study abroad or transfer credits) can be counted towards the minor.
1. One survey course on Asian Pacific American Studies:
2. One course on theory relevant to the study of Asian Pacific America, or on comparative racial formations in America:
3. One course on modern Asian transnational or Asian diasporic experiences from a pre-approved list, adjusted per semester depending upon availability.
Eligible courses include:
Three additional courses from a pre-approved list, adjusted per semester depending upon availability. One of the three courses must be a 4000-level seminar course in AMST or related discipline. Eligible courses include:
Minor in U.S. Latina/o Studies
Students are required to complete a minimum of six courses (18 credits) for the U.S. Latina/o Studies minor. Students must complete at least 2 courses from the core courses list and 1 from the comparative list. The remaining courses can come from the core or the electives list. Students must follow College rules on double counting any minor courses with their majors. No more than one course taken outside of UVA (study abroad or transfer credits) can be counted towards the minor.
Core Courses Requirement
Students must take at least two of the following U.S. Latina/o Studies courses (or another course with primarily U.S. Latina/o content approved by the director):
Comparative Race/Ethnicity Requirement
Students must take one course from the following list to explore history, theory, or culture in an adjacent field: Asian American studies, African American studies, Native American/indigenous studies, or another field approved by the director.
Students must take four additional elective courses. These must be from a pre-approved list maintained by the department. Some of the options include but are not limited to: