Program in American Studies

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in American Studies is an interdepartmental plan of study. Combining a wide range of disciplines, the Program aims to give students an understanding of American society — its culture, its institutions, its intellectual traditions, and the relationships among its diverse people. We encourage study and debate about America’s place in the world and the world in America, as well as what it means to grapple with the horizons and limits of America’s democratic aspirations. The Princeton Program in American Studies, founded in 1942, is one of the oldest interdisciplinary programs at Princeton and continues to be an innovator in curricular development in the 21st century. By bringing together students and faculty from the arts, the humanities, and social sciences to explore questions that cross disciplinary boundaries, the Program reflects a generative field of intellectual curiosity and creativity, a nexus of energy and engagement. American Studies scholars share a dynamic commitment to democratic inquiry rather than a universally agreed upon canon of required methods or venerated works.

The field encompasses an eclectic array of practices and pedagogies that cohere around openness to studying diverse research objects, asking a broad range of research questions, and engaging with diverse scholarly approaches, methods and theories. We strive to gain a deeper and broader perspective on issues that profoundly affect contemporary life and scholarship, including questions of migration, colonization, race, borders, and diaspora; art, culture, and language; law and public policy; environment and health; gender and sexuality, and more.

The cooperating departments from which the program draws faculty and other resources include African American Studies, Anthropology, Architecture, Art and Archaeology, Economics, English, History, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. We also enjoy close relationships with other interdisciplinary programs such as the Program in Environmental Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Program in Law and Public Affairs.

Admission to the Program

Students from all departments are welcome to enroll. Students may enroll in the American Studies certificate program at any time, including freshman year. There are no prerequisites, and courses taken prior to enrollment may count towards the certificate requirements. Students may take AMS 101 at any time during their studies, including after enrollment in the certificate program. Interested students are encouraged to meet with the associate director, professor Rachael DeLue, to discuss the program and plan a tentative course of study. To enroll in the program, students should schedule a meeting with professor DeLue through the web appointment scheduling engine (WASE) and bring a copy of the completed enrollment form to that meeting.

Program of Study

Students may earn a certificate in American studies by successfully completing the following requirements, consisting of five courses:

  1. AMS 101, America Then and Now
  2. Three courses in American Studies, either originating in the program or cross-listed, and preferably representing disciplinary breadth in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. No more than one course taken in fulfillment of the student’s concentration may be counted toward the certificate.
  3. A capstone seminar in American Studies, preferably taken in the senior year.

Certificate students should meet with the associate director during course enrollment periods to discuss course selection.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill all the requirements of the program will receive a certificate in American studies upon graduation.