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American Studies

Our bachelor's degree in American studies is an interdisciplinary program in which students draw upon multiple fields of study to critically analyze the meaning and influence of U.S. history and culture.

Explore American Culture

Our program focuses on the question of national identity: What characteristics, traditions, ideas and values shape the American people and their institutions? Students explore American culture through the lens of diverse academic fields such as art, economics, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, politics, religion and sociology in order to examine the nation’s intellectual and social foundations.

Our majors are characterized by their ability to think critically, make intellectual connections and communicate effectively. The broad and rigorous education our students receive prepares them for graduate school and careers in a wide variety of fields, including business, education, government, journalism, law and the nonprofit sector.

Program Spotlight: National Summit

Jennifer Page '20, an American studies major and history minor, was one of only 15 scholars nationally selected to attend the 2018 Presidential Sites Summit, hosted by the White House Historical Association.

This experience was an amazing opportunity to see what careers are possible with the degree I’m pursuing and to network with professionals within the history field. As a history student, the panel discussions were a great chance for me to meet historians that I normally read about in my books, like Cokie Roberts, Mark Updegrove and Jon Meacham.

Our Faculty

Befitting an interdisciplinary field of study, our faculty are scholar-teachers with expertise in a variety of disciplines, including political philosophy, communications and social media, military history, and American literature and cinema.​

Meet Our Faculty

Life After Salve

Employers and graduate schools seek applicants who can think critically, communicate effectively and are self-starters. With its flexible curriculum, personalized faculty mentoring, interdisciplinary approach and senior thesis project, our program creates an ideal environment for students to develop those sought-after skills.

In the Workforce

  • Business: Graduates acquire the creativity, organizational skills and cultural awareness necessary for careers as successful entrepreneurs.
  • Education: Graduates are well prepared for teaching and administrative positions in primary, secondary and higher education.
  • Government: Graduates have held positions at the local, state and federal government levels.
  • Nonprofit sector: Graduates can pursue careers with advocacy organizations, electoral politics, libraries, museums, research organizations and think tanks.

Graduate and Law School

  • Humanities and social sciences: Graduates can pursue masters and Ph.D. programs in American studies, ethnic studies, history, literature, political science, sociology, urban planning and urban studies.
  • Education: Graduates interested in teaching careers can earn the M.A.T., while those interested in educational research, advocacy or administration may pursue M.A., M.S., Ed.D. and Ph.D. degrees.
  • Public administration and public policy: Graduates can pursue master’s and Ph.D. programs in public administration and public policy.
  • Law school: Graduates acquire the research skills, critical analysis and clear writing necessary for the demands of law school.

 The American studies program gave me a thorough understanding of culture and historical events in New England that informs my work as an archeologist every day. And the skills I learned during my internships at Salve were so valuable - I felt well prepared for the workplace. 

Melissa Andrade ’14
Architectural historian, Public Archaeology Laboratory

Program Spotlight: Going the Extra Mile

Clarissa Verleur '17 recently earned her juris doctor degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law, where she indulged interests in intellectual property, real estate and international trade. She credits her relationships with faculty for helping her realize what she expressed as her eighth-grade yearbook "career goal."

The resources at Salve are here. The professors are amazing. They're a wealth of information and they are willing to help you. I don't think everyone here takes advantage of that, but somehow freshman year I figured out that I probably should.

Major in American Studies (B.A.)

14 courses | 42 credits

Required courses:

  • AST201: American Civilization I: Introduction to American Studies
  • AST202: American Civilization II: Theory and Practice
  • AST262: Classic American Philosophy
  • AST390: American Civilization III: Research Methods
  • AST490: American Civilization IV: Senior Thesis Capstone

One of the following arts courses:

  • AST215: American Music
  • AST303: American Art: 1650-1950
  • AST397: Special Topics in Film

One of the following cultural and historic preservation courses:

  • AST190: Introduction to Archaeology
  • AST301: American Architecture Survey

One of the following literature courses:

  • AST314: Realism and Naturalism in 19th Century American Literature
  • AST315: The American Literary Renaissance

One of the following history courses:

  • AST313: American Immigrant Experience
  • AST322: Urban America

Students also choose five elective courses in consultation with their advisor and with approval from the program coordinator. Majors are encouraged to study abroad and complete an internship.