American Studies Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is American Studies

American Studies is a dynamic interdisciplinary study of the American culture and society. The study of American culture goes on all around us every moment, in every corner of the world. Journalists report and analyze the latest in popular or avant-garde arts and styles. Film critics comment on the relations between box-office hits and American attitudes towards race, gender, class, war, and sexuality. Historians interpret the past. Politicians gamble their careers on the “mood” of the public, their notions of the “national character”, or the “meaning of America.” Businesses both here and abroad risk fortunes on their understanding of changing demographics, economic behavior, social structure, and cultural trends within the United States. Foreign governments try to comprehend and influence United States domestic affairs as well as international policy. And authors provide us with an unending supply of theories about who Americans are, where they have been, and where they might be headed. Few, however, have had the benefit of a systematic and multidisciplinary education in the subject. A nation which has such enormous global impact as the United States must know itself in all its complexity. This is what American Studies is all about.

Career Opportunities in American Studies

The American Studies major prepares students for careers in Advertising, Arts and Cultural Heritage Organizations, Business and Marketing, Community Organizations, Education, Government and Politics, Journalism, Law, and Publishing. Broad interdisciplinary training is excellent preparation for graduate and professional school programs in Business, Education, Law, Museum Studies, or Public Policy.

Salary Trends in American Studies

An Arts and Sciences degree can propel students into limitless directions. Majors are not always the deciding factor as to what career path is followed. As with any degree, pre-professional experiences (volunteerism, work experience, internships, etc.) enhance the chances of obtaining desired employment and further, affect the projected salary.

High School Preparation

Literature, History, and Social Science are core American Studies disciplines, so electives in these areas would be helpful. Students who are undecided about a major because they are interested in two or all three of these areas should consider majoring in American Studies.

How to Major in American Studies

There are no progression requirements for American Studies.
Prerequisites are:
1) English 231 American Literature I: Colonial Era to the Civil War, and
2) Either English 232 American Literature II: Civil War to the Present or
English 233 Major Black Writers.

The American Studies faculty come from many departments; some courses are cross-listed between American Studies and their home departments, but many additional courses are approved to count toward the American Studies major. Prospective majors should meet with the program chair for additional information.

Requirements for American Studies

The major concentration consists of 27 upper-division semester hours.
1) American Studies 310 Introduction to American Studies;
2) At least two approved history courses in American History;
3) Six hours of approved social science courses from the following disciplines: anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology;
4) At least one course which specifically focuses on one or more American ethnic minority cultures;
5) At least three courses chosen in consultation with an American Studies advisor selected to help the student achieve a topical focus within the field. (Examples of focal areas are Appalachian Studies, popular culture, government and politics, or topics in literature or history.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Majors are encouraged to take AS 493 Independent Study during their senior year. Projects may take advantage of special library resources at the University of Tennessee, such as the Great Smoky Mountains Collection, or be developed around internships. Organizations that can provide internship opportunities include the McClung Museum on campus, the East Tennessee History Museum, Jubilee Community Arts, Museum of Appalachia, and Oak Ridge Children’s Museum.

Highlights of American Studies

Each year the American Studies program hosts international students who are majoring in American Studies at their home universities. Recently students from Wales, Ulster, Germany, France, and Japan have enriched our classes with their perspectives on American Culture and Society. The seminar American Studies 450 is an opportunity for UT majors, international students, and American Studies faculty from many departments to become acquainted and exchange ideas. In this seminar, students learn about resources for research and research interests of faculty in the program. The seminar offers an opportunity to develop plans and identify mentors for independent study projects.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities.
Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office web site ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Following this four-year plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.  Milestone courses have been identified as the minimum courses that must be completed.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language 6
Natural Science Lab Sequence 8
Quantitative Reasoning 6-8
Social Sciences 3
Elective 0-1
Milestone courses: English 101, social science (3 hrs), quantitative reasoning (3 hrs)
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Non-US History 6
Natural Science 3
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Social Sciences 9
English 231 and 232 or 233 6
Milestone courses: English 102 and 231, natural science (3-4 hrs), elementary foreign language proficiency
Junior Year Credit Hours
Arts and Humanities – List B 3
Upper Division Electives 6
American Studies 310 3
American Studies (major) 12
General Elective 6
Senior Year Credit Hours
American Studies (major) 12
Upper Level Distribution 6
Communicating Through Writing 3
Communicating Orally 3
Upper Division Electives 3
General Electives 3
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

A list of courses approved for the American Studies major is published each year. All prospective majors and minors should contact the program chair.

For More Information

Dr. Mark Hulsether
Department of Religious Studies
501 McClung Tower



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.