Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  Find People  | 
   

Requirements & Courses

The American Studies major provides for the interdisciplinary study of the history, culture and society of the United States. The program offers several American Studies foundation courses and a robust assortment of American Studies classes. In addition, the major encourages students to draw from the courses offered by other departments and programs. Majors concentrate their studies in one of four interdisciplinary clusters: Comparative Race and Ethnicity; Institutions and Power in the United States; Representation and Performance in the Arts and Humanities; and Community Based Studies.

The program also offers the option of an individually designed cluster, for students who propose a coherent, compelling course of study that does not fit into one of the existing clusters.

Before the senior year, majors should plan to take a class in theory and methods (for example AMER100), as well as at least one integrative seminar for which the completion of a research-length paper (approx. 20pp) is required. Learning the fundamentals of research and writing will serve students well if they opt to propose and are approved to pursue senior capstone projects or honors theses.

In the senior year, all majors will complete one of three options, a fall-semester capstone Senior Special Project (SSP), a two-semester Honors Thesis (HT) or an additional integrative seminar and an elective pertinent to their interdisciplinary cluster.

Requirements

Bachelor of Arts Degree in American Studies
Requirements for the BA in American Studies include the completion of ten courses, as follows:

  • One Foundation course AMER 10-20
  • One Integrative Seminar AMER 170-189
  • One History course with at least two-thirds of course content focused on some aspect of the U.S.
    (With the approval of a student's advisor, and the program director as needed, a student may petition to substitute a course from/or cross listed with the History department with a course from another program/department (e.g. art history, music, drama, etc.) that looks at a particular issue in historical perspective. Such petitions may be favorably considered if the course in question may better support a student's focus in the major.)
  • Five credits that form a coherent interdisciplinary cluster, including at least two courses at the 100+ level. The cluster provides students the opportunity to select relevant courses from at least two different departments/programs throughout the university. No more than ONE independent study course or internship will count toward the cluster. Internships for credit must be supervised by an American Studies faculty member and pre-approval must be granted by the program director.
  • Three options to complete the major:
    1. *American Studies 198 (Senior Special Project), taken only in the fall semester of the senior year, plus one elective course. The Senior Special Project must integrate or expand some aspect of the student's interdisciplinary cluster.
    2. *American Studies 199 (Senior Honors Thesis), taken in both semesters of the senior year. The Senior Honors Thesis must integrate or expand some aspect of the student's interdisciplinary cluster.
    3. In substitution of a Senior Special Project or Honors Thesis, a student may opt or be advised to complete the major requirements by taking an additional integrative seminar (AMER 170-189) and an elective pertinent to their interdisciplinary cluster.

Interdisciplinary Clusters
There are four interdisciplinary clusters, which provide the opportunity for students to design their own course of study: 

Comparative Race and Ethnicity
Institutions and Power in the U.S.
Representation and Performance in the Arts and Humanities
Community Based Studies
Individually designed cluster (please consult advisor)

With a faculty advisor's help, students select five courses from departments and programs throughout the university which will relate to a cluster's theme. Students have flexibility on course selection in completing their clusters, but the cluster as a whole should be intellectually coherent. Courses are approved by your advisor, in consultation with the program director as needed. Students' Senior Special Project or Honors Theses are to be considered capstone projects and therefore must be on a topic related to the cluster.

Overview of typical major requirements with an SSP or HT:
1. Foundation course AMER 10-20
2. Integrative Seminar AMER 170-189 (new numbering system)
3. One course from the History department that is two-thirds focused on the U.S. (or substitution as approved on a case-by-case basis by advisor or program director)
4.-8. Five credits that form a coherent interdisciplinary cluster, including at least two courses at the 100+ level. No more than ONE independent reading course or internship will count toward the cluster. Internships for credit must be supervised by an American Studies faculty member and pre-approval must be granted by the program director (this is not a change).
9. An elective pertinent to the cluster or to the SSP.*
10. SSP (AMER198).*
*HT writers will complete requirements 9-10 with their two-credit thesis (AMER199).

Students who do not wish to write an SSP or HT, or students not granted approval at the prospectus or proposal stage will complete their major cluster with an elective and a second Integrative Seminar (AMER170-189):

Overview of typical major requirements without an SSP or HT:
1. Foundation course AMER 10-20
2. Integrative Seminar AMER 170-189 (new numbering system)
3. One course from the History department that is two-thirds focused on the U.S. (or substitution as approved on a case-by-case basis by advisor or program director)
4.-8. Five credits that form a coherent interdisciplinary cluster, including at least two courses at the 100+ level. No more than ONE independent reading course or internship will count toward the cluster. Internships for credit must be supervised by an American Studies faculty member and pre-approval must be granted by the program director (this is not a change).
9. An elective pertinent to the cluster
10. An additional Integrative Seminar (AMER170-189) pertinent to the cluster

* Senior Special Project or Honors Thesis
In the senior year, majors who wish to complete either a capstone Senior Special Project (SSP) or an Honors Thesis (HT) which integrates or expands upon their course of study in the interdisciplinary cluster, must submit a two-stage prospectus and proposal and receive approval from the program.

All rising seniors must submit, to the program director, a concentration checklist by the last Friday of the spring term of their junior year signed by their advisor.

Additional Information on Major Requirements

  • AP courses may not count toward the American Studies major.
  • A grade of C- or better is required for a course to count toward the major.
  • A major in American Studies, who is also a major in another Department or Program, may count up to five courses from those major(s) toward the requirements in American Studies.
  • Students majoring in American Studies and minoring in an interdisciplinary minor may double count no more than two courses between the major, minor, foundation or distribution requirements.