American Studies

American Studies

Degree Type
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science
Honors Bachelor of Arts
Honors Bachelor of Science
College of Liberal Arts


What does it mean to be American? Our nation is young, yet deeply complex in its history and societal culture. It’s a country in transition and ever-evolving.

In the American studies program, you’ll work with faculty with expertise in literature, history, politics and art, as you take courses in the humanities and social sciences. They’ll bring you a diversity of perspectives that will help you understand the American experience and develop the ability to think critically, globally and democratically, and to communicate persuasively.


Program Information

American studies majors select at least one specialty option to complete their major requirements:

American Culture and Identities
This option brings the skills and methodologies taught in the American studies core to bear, especially on how identities are embedded in American publics, languages, communities and literatures. It investigates the role of key elements such as race, class, gender, national origin, sexual orientation and social justice in the formation and understanding of American culture and identities.

Culture and Natural Environments
In this option, students focus on the role of the built and natural environments in American culture. Both play a crucial part in the creation, continuity, and success or failure of American communities. This option studies the role of American cultures in their relation to the physical environment and the consequences of that relationship on local, national and global scales. The intersections of social justice and environmental justice are key elements of investigation.

General American Studies
American studies electives selected with your advisor to reach 21 credits, from the following disciplines: American studies, anthropology, communication, English, history, political science, and writing.

Pre-Law Studies
American Studies is an excellent pathway to legal studies. This option provides a key knowledge base for students who wish to apply to law school. This option teaches student to demonstrate ability to identify specific cultural tensions arising around freedoms protected by the first, second, and fourteenth amendments to the constitution. Students will articulate key concepts and events in American cultural history and their global impact.

Degree Requirements

A total of 180 quarter credits are required to graduate, including 60 upper-division credits. Requirements include:

  • Baccalaureate core: 48 credits
  • College of Liberal Arts core: 10-15 credits
  • Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science requirements: 15-24 credits
  • American Studies major requirements: 36 credits
  • Specialty Option: 21-23 credits (option selection is required)
  • Electives as needed for 180 credits

Degree Guide and Plans

B.A./B.S. in American Studies Degree Guide (PDF)

American Studies Sample Academic Plan (PDF)

American Studies Transfer Guides

American Studies transfer guides provide students with courses they can take at an Oregon Community College to complete major requirements.

Using the following course forecast information students will plan ahead and work with their advisor to create and update academic plans.

OSU Class Search - a term ahead course search

College of Liberal Arts Course Guide - CLA Core planning

American Studies Core and Option Courses by Term

As an American studies major, you’ll explore what it means to be an American in a historical and global context. Study literature, history, politics and art, gaining a diversity of perspectives that will help you understand the ever-evolving American experience. You’ll graduate with the ability to think critically, globally and democratically, and to communicate persuasively — valuable skills in any field.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Articulate key concepts and events in American cultural history and their global impact
  2. Demonstrate the ability to write clear analytical prose
  3. Demonstrate capacity to compare ideas and material objects from different disciplinary perspectives
  4. Develop research skills, including handling of primary and secondary sources, library use, and online scholarly search tools

The American Studies degree program is an excellent undergraduate pathway to various careers in legal studies or politics. The program provides a key knowledge base for students who wish to apply to law school.

There are a variety of resources and opportunities for students considering a career in law. Students at OSU-Cascades work with their major advisor in partnership with the OSU Pre-Law Advisor, and the OSU-Cascades Career Development Center to create their plans and pathway to apply to law school.


The American studies degree is only offered at OSU’s campus in Bend.


Stories matter. Top global economists say we need more people who can translate complex information into human stories.


Critical thinking is the #1 skill sought after by employers according to NACE.

A strong foundation for your future

The skills you’ll learn will help you navigate our information society and issues about equity, the natural environment and cultural diversity — and even spark new thinking and practices. Our alumni have gone on to work in business, education, the arts, law, medicine and politics — and pursued graduate programs in teaching, writing and other fields.

Considering law school?

After seeing families lose everything during the Great Recession, Andrew Ince set out to be the best attorney money could buy — for those who couldn't afford it. He earned a degree in American studies from OSU-Cascades and continued on to law school. He now works as an attorney in Bend. Many of our students plan to apply for law school after graduating and American studies is a great place to start.

Sample Courses

  • A Cultural History of American Art and Literature
  • Intro to U.S. Government
  • Intro to Sociology
  • Studies in Nonfiction
  • Political Thought
  • American Literature, Culture, the Environment
  • Ethnography
  • Native American Literature
  • Modern Political Thought
  • Environmental Law and Politics

Course Listing

Where do our graduates work?

  • Bend La-Pine Schools
  • City of Vancouver, Washington
  • Deschutes Defenders
  • Emory University
  • Multnomah County Library
  • Omnicom Media Group
  • Perkins Coie
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Hillsboro School District
  • Irresponsible Games
  • Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
  • University of Maine

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Contact Us

We're here to help! Future students can connect with an OSU-Cascades admissions advisor for admission and program questions.