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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) Environment, Science and Technology Studies; (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.

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.

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. David Correia (dcorreia@unm.edu), the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, to talk about joining the department.


Undergraduate Major Testimonials


Amy K. Coplen, BA in American Studies ('07) - Environment, Science, and Technology

After graduating from UNM, I spent three years working in Environmental Planning at

Sandia National Labs. I then earned a Masters degree in Environmental Management  

from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. In the fall of 2012, I began a

Ph.D. program in Urban Studies at Portland State University as a National Science

Foundation ESUR-IGERT fellow.


Why did you major in American Studies?

The most interesting classes are in American Studies! American studies gave me the flexibility to draw on a variety of disciplines to explain our relationship with the environment. I was guided through basic qualitative research techniques and applied these to produce an honors thesis about a topic I was passionate about.


How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

While some thought I was crazy to study Chemistry and American Studies at the same time, this multidisciplinary education gave me a leg up in the job market. My experience doing independent qualitative research prepared me for graduate school and demonstrated to admissions committees that I was a capable researcher. My background in American Studies taught me to approach research from many angles and made me confident in drawing on a variety of resources from different disciplines. I carry these skills with me throughout my graduate studies.



Danielle Gilliam, BA in American Studies ('07) - Comparative Cultural & Popular Culture Studies

Upon graduation I accepted a position as a staff member here at The University of New Mexico. As a Program Specialist, I have worked in many areas of the University, most notably in developing our alternative and sustainable transportation programs. I have earned a Masters in Public Administration and will soon begin a Ph.D. program.


Why did you major in American Studies?

I was attracted to the inter-disciplinary nature of the studies. Not only did this give me more control and opportunity to craft my learning to my interests, but it provided a solid foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and writing experience that I could easily build upon my career and additional educational pursuits.


How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

The material in American Studies is extremely engaging, thought-provoking, and often challenging. It is the kind of challenge you enjoy so much you hardly notice how fervently you are advancing your critical thinking skills. I have this program to thank not only for the breadth of knowledge I received, but for strong problem solving abilities and very useful interpersonal communication skills.



Sarah Haynes, BA in American Studies ('07) - Comparative Cultural & Popular Culture Studies/Southwest Studies

I was an academic advisor for three years while the health field continued to pull at me,

so I am in my final year of graduate school with the Community Health Education

program. In the meantime, I coordinate a school garden and I have written and received

grants. I am also a founding member of a community health organization.


Why did you major in American Studies?

Well I have to admit, I majored in American Studies because I had interests in so many different academic fields and I thought that this would be a great fit. Little did I know that this major would actually provide me a toolbox with different lenses that allows me to have a very colorful viewpoint within the health field.


How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

Health in America, like so many other aspects of American life, is a trickle down process and many are marginalized as a result. I can recognize hidden obstacles through the health care system and design ways to make health fields more available and accessible while maintaining strong cultural value systems on both local and global levels. I appreciate this experience every day.




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