The Program in American Studies is an interdisciplinary plan of study that trains students to make intellectual connections in the world through the experiences and place of America in current and historical times. We understand “America” as a concept that travels locally and globally and is grounded in particular histories and cultural projects. Combining a wide range of fields, areas, and disciplines, the program helps students explore different conceptual framings of America, as well as the role of the United States as a nation in global, local, and transnational relationships. The program is grounded in the social, cultural, institutional, and intellectual histories and experiences of the diverse people and cultures that make up the United States of America. We encourage study and debate about what America(s) are/is, the role of the U.S. in the world and the world in the U.S., as well as what it means to grapple with the horizons and limits of U.S. democratic aspirations. The Princeton Program in American Studies, founded in 1942, is one of the oldest interdisciplinary programs at Princeton and continues to be an innovator in curricular development in the 21st century. By bringing together students and faculty from the arts, humanities and social sciences to explore questions that cross disciplinary boundaries, the program reflects a generative field of intellectual curiosity, collaboration, and creativity.
The field encompasses an eclectic array of practices and pedagogies that cohere around openness to studying diverse research objects, asking a broad range of research questions, and engaging with diverse scholarly approaches, methods and theories. We strive to gain a deeper and broader perspective on issues that profoundly affect contemporary life and scholarship, including questions of migration, colonization, race, borders, and diaspora; art, culture, and language; law and public policy; environment and health; gender and sexuality, and more.
The cooperating departments from which the program draws faculty and other resources include African American studies, anthropology, architecture, art and archaeology, economics, English, history, music, philosophy, politics, psychology, religion, sociology, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. We also enjoy close relationships with the Program in Environmental Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Program in Law and Public Affairs.
Admission to the Program
Students from all departments are welcome to enroll. Students may enroll in the American studies certificate program at any time, including in their first year at Princeton. There are no prerequisites, and courses taken prior to enrollment may count towards the certificate requirements. Students may take the gateway course AMS 101 at any time during their studies, including after enrollment in the certificate program. To enroll in the certificate program, students should complete the online enrollment form. Certificate students should meet with the associate director or undergraduate administrator before the end of their first year of enrollment, to review their plans for fulfilling the certificate requirements.
Course of Study
Students may earn a certificate in American studies by successfully completing the following requirements, consisting of five courses:
- AMS 101: America Then and Now
- Three courses in American studies (AMS), either originating in the program or cross-listed, and preferably representing disciplinary breadth in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. No more than one course taken in fulfillment of a student’s concentration may be counted toward the certificate. Asian American studies (ASA) and Latino studies (LAO) courses may count toward the AMS certificate, but no one course can be counted toward more than one certificate program.
- A capstone seminar in American studies, preferably taken in the senior year.
Certificate of Proficiency
Students who fulfill all the requirements of the program will receive a certificate in American studies upon graduation.