About  American  Studies

The American Studies program offers students the opportunity to explore the experience and values of the people of the United States as embodied in their history, literature, politics, art, and other enduring forms of cultural expression. The program seeks to prepare students to confront with historical awareness the pressing problems that face our society. In order to foster critical thinking, the American Studies curriculum requires deep and wide reading in works of cultural criticism, history, and social analysis. The program takes advantage of our location in New York by involving students with the life of the city, working with community service organizations such as the Double Discovery Center, which serves disadvantaged high school students, and by inviting leading figures on the New York political and cultural scene to participate in colloquia, public conferences, and in the classroom. It is a demanding interdisciplinary program designed to be open and flexible while taking seriously the challenge of striving for a liberal education that helps prepare students for responsible citizenship.

Each American Studies student is assigned an academic advisor. Coursework consists of a series of required courses and an individualized program of study developed by the student in close consultation with his or her advisor.

American Studies and New York City
American Studies students are encouraged to supplement their academic experiences with relevant professional opportunities in New York City. To search for available internships or other employment options, visit the Center for Career Education. Individuals who can make internships or jobs accessible to Columbia students and alumni can also post positions.

Declaring the Major
Although students generally declare their major or concentration in the spring of their sophomore year, you may want to take electives early on in areas that interest you but that will later connect with the American Studies major.

Major or Concentration
Students may choose American Studies as a major or a concentration. Coursework for both consists of a series of required courses and an individualized program of study developed by the student in close consultation with his or her advisor. 

Study Abroad
We encourage our students to study abroad and to take courses that examine America in an international context; we also suggest that students learn a foreign language. With careful planning, you can both study abroad and fulfill all the American Studies requirements. You should consult with your advisor early on about how to integrate study abroad into your program, and you should keep in mind that syllabi from courses taken abroad must be reviewed by your program advisor to determine whether they count towards American Studies requirements.

Career Opportunities
A major in American Studies can open doors to many careers as well as to graduate or professional school.  A number of our students, for example, develop a thematic concentration centered on the media that can take them into journalism, publishing, and other related areas. An interdisciplinary major like American Studies, in combination with your general education through the Columbia Core Curriculum, can also lead to opportunities in non-profit organizations or public affairs.  Over the last few years, our majors have gone on to graduate school, law and medical school, business, government and public-service organizations, as well as other post-college programs such as Teach-for-America.

Any grade lower than a C- cannot be counted towards a degree in American Studies. A grade of C- can be counted only with the approval of the Director or Associate Director of the program. Pass/fail courses will not count toward the major unless the course was taken before the student declared the major.

Departmental Honors
Students with a 3.6 minimum GPA in the major and an outstanding senior project will be considered for honors. By College policy, no more than 10% of majors are permitted to receive honors in a given year


Click here for the About American Studies 2009-2011 booklet or stop by room 415 Hamilton for more information.

Questions? Please feel free to contact:
Robert Amdur, Chair - rla2@columbia.edu
Jenna Feltey Alden - jfa2104@columbia.edu
Joanna Dee - jdd2002@columbia.edu
Andrew Delbanco - ad19@columbia.edu
Alicia de Santis - amd2114@columbia.edu
John Hay - jpw2111@columbia.edu
Tamara Mann - tbm2105@columbia.edu
Roosevelt Montàs - rm63@columbia.edu
Valerie Paley - vrp6@columbia.edu
Christine Smallwood - cms2197@columbia.edu
Maura Spiegel - mls37@columbia.edu
Lindsay Van Tine - mlv2124@columbia.edu