American Studies Department
Why Study American Studies?
Tailor your major to your interests, drawing from a wide range of course offerings in the arts, literature, social sciences, and history.
The major is equally suitable if you want to do any of the following:
- Teach elementary school or high school social studies
- Go to law school or graduate school
- Work in the corporate world
- Work in law enforcement
Internship opportunities abound, and the department supports those who want to study abroad.
The United States is the richest and the most powerful nation in the world and is deeply enmeshed in global political, economic, and cultural forces. American Studies explores both the development of American society and culture and the ways in which the world responds to the United States.
American studies majors often win top honors at Fisher, including:
- John A. Murray Award in History
- Mary Ann Davis Prize in English
- Deirdre McKiernan Hetzler Award in Women and Gender Studies
- Kate Gleason Award in Women and Gender Studies
- Ruth Ann Constantino Award for outstanding academic improvement
- Excellus Undergraduate Diversity Scholarship
- St. John Fisher College Award for Childhood Education
The American Studies Major
With a major in American studies, you will:
- Understand multiple approaches to the study of American culture
- Develop your ability to conduct research into various dimensions of American culture, and to communicate the results of your research
- Be prepared for advanced study in American studies and related fields, as well as careers in professions such as education, law, public administration, and business
As an American studies graduate, you'll be able to find a career in a wide range of fields that depend on knowledge of American culture as well as on the critical thinking and communication skills that are developed through the American studies curriculum.
You may work in a museum, government office, or publishing house; be employed as a journalist, writer, or editor; become a teacher; or embark on a career in law, medicine, business, or urban planning. See a detailed list of career opportunities for American studies majors.
You may also pursue a graduate degree in American studies or a variety of related disciplines.
American studies is also an excellent major for if you are interested in adolescence social studies certification. For more information, please see the website for the Adolescence Education Department.
American Studies Alumni
Ryan Lown '03
Attorney at Phillips Lytle LLP, Rochester
I entered Fisher planning on attending law school afterward. Like many law-school hopefuls, I initially chose the Political Science major. However, when I enrolled in an American Studies class that studied the Vietnam War through literature and film, as well as through history and politics, I began to see the benefits of approaching a topic through multiple perspectives. As a result, I decided to become a dual major in American Studies and Political Science, which helped me better understand the social, economic, cultural and political dimensions of American society.
After graduating summa cum laude in 2003, I attended the University of Buffalo School of Law, earning my J.D. in 2007. The skills that I learned in American Studies were essential to my success as a law student. I developed key writing skills to effectively communicate clear and concise ideas, and I developed critical thinking skills to have creative and practical solutions to issues.
I’m now a homeowner living in Rochester and working as an attorney at Phillips Lytle LLP, a firm founded over 175 years ago. My practice focuses in the area of commercial real estate, including lending and development, leasing, secured financing and workouts, condominium and planned unit development matters and general project development. The skill sets that I learned through the American Studies program have translated into my everyday life and have been vital to my success so far as an attorney.
Soon after completing his degree in American Studies at St. John Fisher College, Dave Lester '07, created a tagline showing the evolution of key concepts in the field of American Studies. It's a simple and elegant way to visualize the transformation of a scholarly field. A longtime advocate for the digital humanities, Lester now works for Twitter.