Emphasis Plan

What is an Emphasis?

The American Studies Emphasis is where students personalize the American Studies major to their own educational interests and goals. Together with the Faculty Undergraduate Advisor, you will select five upper-division courses organized around a single theme or focus related to American Studies. You should draw these courses from two or more departments or programs in addition to AMS. Ideas include (see below for details):

  • Queer and Trans Studies
  • Social Movements
  • Disability, Health, and Injustice
  • Food Studies
  • The US and the World: Borders, Migration, Diaspora, and Imperialism
  • California Studies
  • Politics, Identity, and Art/Design/Literature
  • Diverse and Dissident Histories
  • Nature and Environment
  • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Gender and Women
  • Pop Culture, Media, and Communication
  • Public Memory and Community History

Emphasis Unit Requirements

The American Studies Emphasis requires 20 units of emphasis coursework from a minimum of three different departments (including AMS).

  • May include a maximum of 8 units of upper-division AMS electives; faculty advisor may permit exceptions to allow
    more than 8 units to count toward total
  • May include a maximum of 4 units of internship (192)
  • May include a maximum of 8 units of 190A/190B (senior research/creative project units)

Declaring the Emphasis

Approval of the American Studies Emphasis is required for graduation for all students in the major. The American Studies Emphasis is approved through a two step process where students: (1) submit their emphasis topic/theme and proposed coursework for preliminary approval, and (2) submit their Emphasis Plan Narrative paper for final approval.  

By fall of their junior year, students should have met with the Faculty Advisor and/or Student Affairs Officer to discuss the focus of their emphasis and proposed coursework. Students should submit their proposed emphasis topic/theme and courses via the Emphasis Plan Part I form. Upon approval, this Emphasis topic and coursework will be noted in the student's advising file. Students are free to renegotiate their topic and resubmit the Part I form for faculty advisor approval at any time. 

During their senior year, students are required to submit their Emphasis Plan Narrative paper for faculty advisor approval. The paper is the final steps in approval of the emphasis and must be on file before you can be certified for graduation. Students are encouraged to submit their Emphasis Plan Narrative paper no later than the quarter before graduation via the Emphasis Plan Part II form.

  • Suggested Emphasis Plans
  • Review suggested emphasis topics and sample coursework plans via our American Studies Suggested Emphasis Plans handout
  • Emphasis Plan Narrative Submission
  • Submit your Emphasis Plan Narrative no later than the quarter before your intended graduation via our AMS Emphasis Plan Form
  • Emphasis Plan Narrative Examples
  • Prior to submitting your Emphasis Plan Narrative, we recommend you review Emphasis Plan Examples to gain a better understanding of what is expected for the narrative portion of the plan.