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American Studies

Undergraduate Programs

Completing an American Studies degree prepares you to enter a range of graduate and professional programs, including law school, doctoral programs, and others. The skills acquired in the program are also useful for work in non-profit organizations, activist groups, media, government, and cultural and artistic fields, to name a few. Our programs explore socio-historical contexts and cultural perspectives that complement other fields of study at AU. 100% of our students have secured full-time employment or graduate school acceptance upon completing the requirements for the American Studies program.

American Studies in Washington, DC

American University student performers on stage

Washington, DC, is the perfect place to explore American Studies, an interdisciplinary, intersectional approach to understanding American life, politics, and culture. Our program combines student-centered learning and community engagement with courses that examine the latest scholarship in the field.  Our faculty are experts in the study of popular culture and discourse, disability studies, immigration studies, carceral studies, Native American studies, and more. Our students complete their own work to understand American institutions and culture with an original capstone project.


Dr. Elizabeth Rule joined New Book Network for a discussion about Rule's book Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s First Capital.

Dr. Tanja Aho and Dr. Mary Ellen Curtin have won the 2022-2023 Ann Ferren Curriculum Design Award for their creation of the “Disability, Health, and Bodies” undergraduate certificate. This award recognizes the collaborative work of two or more faculty who creatively integrate the values of a liberal education in the design of courses or curricula for majors or academic programs.

Stevie Marvin has won the 2023 University Award for Outstanding Service to the AU Community

Jules Losee won the 2022 Provost’s Summer Scholar Award for their research project "Where Love Grows: How Art Coaxes Queer Community Through Prison Walls."

Rachael Hesse won the AU Library’s Best Overall Undergraduate Paper Award for their capstone project “How Joan Rivers Created the Modern Female Comedian.”

Talia Marshall won an AU Provost Summer Scholars award for her research project  "Queer Time Meets Neurodivergent Time: Exploring Temporal Intersections.” Talia will be presenting her research at the Modern Language Association’s national conference in January of 2023.

Abigail Goldner-Morris won the University Award for Outstanding Community Service in Spring 2021.

Professor Tanja Aho discussed the new certificate Disability, Health, and Bodies in "American University launches certificate in Disability, Health, and Bodies."

Recent Events

Indigenous Health: A Roundtable Discussion

Virtual | November 17, 2022 4-5:30 p.m. ET

Join AU's American Studies Department for a conversation about Indigenous health with Josie Raphaelito (Diné/Navajo Nation), Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee), Candi Brings Plenty (Oglala Sioux), and Elizabeth Rule (Chicasaw Nation), moderated by Tanja Aho. Our panelists will discuss their work on Indigenous cancer research, Two Spirit and Native LGBTQIA+ advocacy and community work, resistance to colonial theft, exploitation, and gender violence, and reteaching Indigenous foodways.


Josie Raphaelito (Diné, Navajo) is a passionate advocate for tribal public health. Josie serves as the Research Project Coordinator for the new Center for Indigenous Cancer Research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also is co-author of the Indigenizing Love Toolkit.

Dr. Elizabeth Rule (Chickasaw Nation) is Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. Rule’s research on Indigenous issues has been featured in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and NPR.

Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee) graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and returned home where she developed Indigikitchen, an online tool for reteaching information about Indigenous foods.

Candi Brings Plenty (Oglala Sioux) is a queer, indigenous, Two Spirit, cis, Oglala Lakota Sioux Activist and Spiritual Practitioner. She works as an indigenous justice organizer with the South Dakota ACLU and specializes in advocating for Two Spirit warriors, community health, and protesters at the Keystone XL pipeline.

Dr. Tanja Aho is a Professional Lecturer of American Studies at American University, where they teach two core courses of the new Disability, Health, and Bodies certificate. They serve on the board of the Rainbow History Project and were a copy editor of the Indigenizing Love Toolkit.

Heather Roselle, photo by Patty Housman

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Statement in Solidarity with Anti-Racist Efforts from CRGC

The faculty of the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies join with protesters across the world to denounce police brutality and systemic anti-Black violence. 

Read the full statement