Areas of distinction in research and teaching are:

  1. Transnationalism, Globalization, and Colonialism
  2. Critical Regionalism and Southwest Studies
  3. Critical Race and Class Studies
  4. Environmental and Social Justice
  5. Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
  6. Comparative Cultural and Popular Culture Studies.

The Department of American Studies was the first Department to offer the PhD at the University of New Mexico. The Department promotes critically-engaged innovative academic research and teaching, and is a vital center for recruitment of diverse undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty.

American Studies is a formal academic discipline that began more than seventy years ago as the United States was undergoing a series of crises over the meaning of the nation. Then, as now, American Studies has posed critical questions to Americans about the meaning of the United States in a global society. UNM's program, one of the first four American Studies programs in the nation, remains a dynamic place of critical inquiry, as well as a leading resource for scholarly explorations of the Southwest and New Mexico in particular.

Students have the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary approach to their specific areas of interest, and receive training in a broad range of historical, literary, visual, and ethnographic theory and methods.