American Studies

American Studies is a field of study which examines the core values and ideas that define American culture, while at the same time emphasizing the diversity of its expressions in past and contemporary times. This scholarly inquiry draws upon the content of several disciplines and capitalizes also on the interdisciplinary content already common in courses offered on campus under English, History, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology and other disciplines. Students in American Studies will not only come to a deeper understanding of their own culture, but will gain an appreciation for the challenges involved in the understanding of any culture. This course of study thus provides a thorough training in the liberal arts and is an excellent preparation for the job market or graduate study in a variety of fields, such as: state, local, and federal policy, writing and editing, cultural resource management and historic preservation, curation, library science, banking, insurance, and stock analysis.

Prerequisites to the Major

For the American Studies major, students are required to complete 4 prerequisite courses for a total of 12 credit hours from the following:

Select 12 hrs from the following:12
Introduction to AAAS
Survey of Mass Communication
Intro to Lit: African American
American Lit: Colonial to 1900
The American Past I
The American Past II
Intro to Arab American Studies
Intro to American Government
Intro to Women's & Gender Stud
Total Credit Hours12

Dearborn Discovery Core Requirement

The minimum passing grade for a Dearborn Discovery Core (DDC) course is 2.0. The minimum GPA for the program is 2.0. In addition, the DDC permits any approved course to satisfy up to three credit hours within three different categories. Please see the General Education Program: The Dearborn Discovery Core section for additional information.

Foundational Studies

Written and Oral Communication (GEWO) – 6 Credits

Upper Level Writing Intensive (GEWI) – 3 Credits

Quantitative Thinking and Problem Solving (GEQT) – 3 Credits

Critical and Creative Thinking (GECC) – 3 Credits

Areas of Inquiry

Natural Science (GENS) – 7 Credits

  • Lecture/Lab Science Course
  • Additional Science Course

Social and Behavioral Analysis (GESB) – 9 Credits

Humanities and the Arts (GEHA) – 6 Credits

Intersections (GEIN) – 6 Credits


Capstone (GECE) – 3 Credits

Foreign Language Requirement

Complete a two-semester beginning language sequence.

Ancient Greek I and IIMCL 105 and MCL 106
Arabic I and IIARBC 101 and ARBC 102
Armenian I and IIMCL 111 and MCL 112
French I and IIFREN 101 and FREN 102
German I and IIGER 101 and GER 102
Latin I and IILAT 101 and LAT 102
Spanish I and IISPAN 101 and SPAN 102

Major Requirements

Upper Level

At the upper level, students must complete 9 courses (a total of 27 credit hours), beginning with AMST 300, the gateway course, which provides an introduction to the subject matter and methods of American Studies.

The remaining 8 courses must be chosen from the tracks listed below. An American Studies advisor will provide guidance to students in their choice of courses, as there are other courses that may be relevant to the American Studies major. Students may be able to count these courses in the major with approval of the faculty advisor by petition. Students are also strongly encouraged to take an internship or independent study course in their senior year.

Track 1. Comparative American Identities

One of the distinctive features of American culture is the multiplicity of subcultures it includes. This makes the process of finding a personal and social identity a more complex process than in other more homogeneous societies. A number of courses can give a further understanding of the historical development and intersection of the variety of racial, ethnic, gender, or class identities in American life. Some representative courses for this track are:

SOC 423American Social Classes3
ENGL 44520C/21C Women Authors3
ENGL 4705Black Women / Lit, Film, Music3
HIST 368Black Exp in U.S.:1865-Present3
HIST 370Women in Am-Hist Perspective3
HIST 384Immigration in America3

Track 2. Work, Technology and Globalization

This track encourages an understanding of American Studies through the world of work and technological innovation. Students will study how work and technology define and shape American culture – both in historic and in contemporary contexts. Students will explore how technology in America shapes both work identities and work environments. They will also consider how the American workforce is affected by the globalization of labor and other resources. Some representative courses for this track are:

STS 300Intro to Sci & Technol Studies3
ECON 321Labor in the American Economy3
WGST 481Gender and Globalization3
SOC 460America in a Global Society3

Track 3. Literature, Arts and Culture

This track provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of literature, music, the visual and performing arts, popular culture, architecture and the environment, with the objective of understanding the arts in relation to major issues and themes in American social, political and historical development. In this track, exploration of the arts offers opportunities to further engage questions central to the American Studies field, such as, what is “American” about this novel, this school of painting, this music? What has been the role of the arts in the evolution of an American national identity? How has art inspired or reflected various American identities? The courses offered under this rubric feature a variety of historical periods as well as a diversity of gender, racial and ethnic special interests. Some representative courses for this track are:

ARTH 361American Art3
ARTH 375Urban Design Perspectives3
ENGL 452Major 20C/21C American Authors3
ENGL 469Contemporary African Amer Lit3
JASS 457American Cinema3
MHIS 331Music of America3
MHIS 120History of Jazz3
SOC 304Studies in Det.Hist. & Culture3

Track 4. Society, Religion and Politics

This track examines the ways in which both personal and national identity are shaped through a dynamic process of interaction between American citizens and the broad array of civic, religious, and cultural institutions in American society. Within this framework, students will study competing ideas of citizenship and nationhood as they operate in a variety of historical and contemporary contexts. In addition, this same perspective affords students the opportunity to explore regional topics of interest such as Detroit culture, the history and sociology of the auto industry, and the diversity of religious experience in Southeastern Michigan. Some representative courses for this track are:

SOC 441Sociology of the Auto Industry3
HIST 363Rel in Amer Hist:1607-18653
HIST 3695American City3
POL 304American Political Thought3
POL 360American Policy Process3


  1.  At least 15 of the 27 upper level hours in the American Studies major must be elected at UM-Dearborn.
  2. Some upper level courses may require additional prerequisites.
  3. Other courses may be relevant to the American Studies major. Students may be able to count these courses in the major with approval of the faculty advisor by petition.


American Studies majors are required to consult with an American Studies advisor.  To inquire, contact the CASL College-Wide Programs office, 2036 CB, 313-593-4925.

AMST 300     Comparat. American Identities     3 Credit Hours

This course will confront and complicate the following key questions: what does it mean to be an American? What is American culture? Participants in this course will respond to the questions central to the American Studies field by reading and discussing historical, sociological, literary, artistic, material culture, political, economic, and other sources. Students will use this interdisciplinary study to examine the multiple identities of Americans - as determined by factors such as gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion. While emphasizing the diversity of American culture, participants will consider some core values and ideas uniting America both in historical and contemporary society. Students will be invited to seek out and share fresh narratives of the American experience.

Prerequisite(s): COMP 106 or CPAS with a score of 40 or COMP 220 or COMP 270 or COMP 280

Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

AMST 390     Topics in American Studies     3 Credit Hours

Examination of problems and issues in selected areas of American Studies. Title in the Schedule of Classes will change according to course content. Course may be repeated for credit when specific topics differ.

AMST 499     Ind. Study in Amer Studies     1 to 3 Credit Hours

The independent study is designed for American Studies majors to provide an opportunity for pursuing a significant scholarly project that explores a topic of interest in American Studies while synthesizing insights gained from prior coursework in American Studies. The course can be repeated for up to 6 credits.

Prerequisite(s): AMST 300 or HIST 3602 or ENGL 306 or SOC 306 or COMM 306

Can enroll if Class is Senior
Can enroll if Major is American Studies


An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.

Frequency of Offering

The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally