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Undergraduate Program

The American Studies major at the University of New Mexico offers undergraduate students unparalleled flexibility in designing a course of study of their own choice, one that draws on a curriculum of remarkable breadth and taught by a faculty of national prominence.

In no other department on campus can a student find such a wide exposure to so many areas in cultural, political and environmental studies.

The large faculty in American Studies offer courses in six major areas:

  1. Transnationalism and Globalization
  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.

These areas of emphasis offer undergraduate students intense and rigorous introduction to American studies from a critical and fascinating vantage point.


American Studies majors complete a minimum of 36 semester hours that includes a three-credit introductory course and three other required seminars. The remaining 24 credit hours consist of courses selected by students. We provide this flexibility because the field of American Studies is interdisciplinary, and we believe the major should reflect that. Students, therefore, are encouraged to work with a faculty mentor to develop their own emphasis, design their own course of study and count approved courses in other departments toward their work in American Studies.

Southwest Concentration

For students with a particular interest in the history, environment, cultures and politics of the U.S. Southwest, we offer an emphasis in Southwest Studies. This concentration is tailored to students interested in studying the particular cultural formations and unique history of this region from a faculty with an unmatched expertise.

Departmental Honors

Students majoring in American Studies can receive Departmental Honors if they complete an honors thesis. As part of writing an honors thesis, students work with faculty mentors to develop a 30-page thesis.

If students are interested in Departmental Honors, they need to meet with the Undergraduate Director in their junior year to discuss possible faculty mentors. Once the student has a faculty mentor, they fill out an application, which is signed by their faculty mentor and the Undergraduate Director. During the semester when the student plans to complete the honors thesis, they register for American Studies 499, using the section number designated for their faculty mentor. In addition to AMST 499, students must also successfully complete AMST 485, Senior Seminar in the Culture of the United States. They must also maintain a minimum of a 3.20 overall grade point average. 

What can you do with a major in American Studies?

Careers for people majoring in American Studies are as diverse as the students who select the major. A bachelor’s degree in American studies prepares students to ask critical questions and conduct sophisticated research using multiple methods. You will leave UNM armed with the necessary skills in research and writing necessary for success in law school or graduate school. You will acquire the critical writing skills essential for a career in almost any professional or creative field.

If you are a motivated and independent thinker, you’ll find a home in the department of American Studies and preparation for a rewarding career after college. In the years after our students graduate from UNM, they routinely find success in law school, graduate school (and not only in graduate programs in American studies but also in History, Geography, Anthropology and English), in journalism, and art. They become professors. They work in positions in government agencies, in museums and as independent writers. They are filmmakers and artists. If this challenge and these possibilities resonate with you, explore the website. Familiarize yourself with the path-breaking work of our faculty, read the descriptions of the fascinating courses we offer every semester, and then make an appointment with Dr. Michael Trujillo (, the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, to talk about joining the department.