American Studies is a major that focuses on the study of the United States and its diverse peoples, cultures, institutions, regions and histories in a transnational context. American Studies at the University of Hawai’i provides a strong foundation in traditional American Studies areas along with a special focus on the United States’ relations with Asia and the Pacific. The program provides a broad liberal arts education as well as excellent preparation for further graduate work in many fields and professions.

American Studies allows you to blaze your own path but with the full support of a regular faculty and a vibrant community of students. With small, seminar-style classes, our undergraduate program emphasizes critical thinking, writing and research. It combines the perspectives and techniques of multiple approaches to knowledge to enliven the process of learning. American Studies students fuse examinations of the past (history), analyses of culture (arts and literature) and considerations of the social order (politics) in order to come to a fuller understanding of the different dimensions of the American experience. Our majors devise individual programs that integrate a variety of fields, including film, literature, politics, music, popular culture, ethnic studies, gender studies, media, and sports in their efforts to understand how the world works and how it came to be. We also encourage our students to take classes outside the department, allowing them remarkable freedom to design their own course of study.

Develop a solid foundation for success


Effective writing

Effective writing is important in any job that requires a college degree, and American Studies’ writing-focused curriculum will prepare you to be an effective communicator.

Critical analysis

Critical analysis skills are important for jobs that require independence of thought and the ability to digest, translate and relate different kinds of data with the appropriate tools, and come up with creative and practical solutions to problems.

Research skills

Research skills are vital to virtually any jobs in this information age. The ability to finding out crucial and reliable information about past practices and polities, events and issues, as well as find out new information or how to generate new, better data, is a crucial skill.

Interdisciplinary thinking

Interdisciplinary thinking and training allows you to think about a problem or issue from different perspectives and in multiple ways, to analyze it using a variety of tools, and to draw from different traditions of thought when formulating a solution.

Study what matters


The interdisciplinary training that American Studies majors receive provides a solid foundation for success in many fields. American Studies majors go on to careers in law, education, business, politics, research, journalism, entertainment, the arts, and social organizing.




Art, Design, Media



Scholarships + Financial Aid

The Danny Kaleikini Kahala Hilton Hotel Scholarship

Established in 1982 to honor Danny Kaleikini’s 15th anniversary at the Kahala Hilton Hotel, this scholarship supports UHM graduate and undergraduate students with a declared Arts and Humanities major.

Hands of Hope Scholarship

Established by the Hands of Hope Foundation, this scholarship supports UHM undergraduates with a declared major in American Studies, History, Philosophy, Religion, or Speech

Goto Foundation

To assist students who are pursuing interdisciplinary studies to foster volunteer activities and research which will contribute to world peace and to the promotion of the mutual understanding and friendship between the people of Hawai‘i and Japan.

“Kokoro” Scholarship

Endowed by the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation, this award assists students who are pursuing Japanese American Cultural Studies

Brown-Denney Award

Provides recognition for academic excellence for students in American Studies

American Studies fosters close relations between faculty, students and community. Here’s how we do it:


A mentorship program that connects our new majors to our older majors or to graduate students.

Careers in American Studies

The Careers in American Studies Series features informational panels and workshops to help students explore careers, graduate and professional schools.

American Studies Undergraduate Leaders Club

The American Studies Undergraduate Leaders Club, which was created by undergraduates for undergraduates who want to build a community of scholars, and to encourage scholars who want to be involved in the community


Academic Advising

As a small major, we pride ourselves on the mentoring and advising relationships our faculty fosters with our students. From the advising you receive in your courses to the advising we provide for our majors, American Studies is a department built on supporting undergraduate success.

Once you are a declared major, you are required to meet with the Undergraduate Chair prior to registration each semester to make sure you are on track, to discuss any problems you might be having, or to go over course choices, scholarship applications, and plans for the future.  As a major or minor, you will receive emails regarding mandatory advising hours every semester, as well as reminders regarding advising, registration, and graduation deadlines.

The Undergraduate Chair’s office hours vary each semester, and can be obtained from the department office. It is best to make an appointment when coming to see the Undergraduate Chair during and outside of office hours.

Undergraduate Chair:

Joyce Mariano
Moore Hall 334

Forms and Resources




The American Studies undergraduate major requires the completion of 30 credit hours in the following manner.

American Studies Core Courses: 2 courses (6 credit hours)

  • Approaches to American Studies (AMST 383; 3 credits)
  • The Senior Capstone (AMST 484; 3 credits)

Electives: 24 credit hours

Your 24 remaining credits (8 courses) to fulfill AMST major requirements can include up to six credits (two courses) of AMST courses at the 100 or 200 level. Students may also fulfill up to nine credits (3 courses) of the upper-division AMST major requirement with upper-division allied humanities and/or social sciences courses. This allows our majors to craft a concentration in a particular area by using courses outside of the major.

  • These courses must be Pre-Approved-allied-courses OR
  • Approved in advance by the Undergraduate Chair (if there is a credible amount of American content, then courses are usually approved)
Declaring a Major

To declare your major, first make an appointment with the Undergraduate Chair to complete required paperwork and to talk about what the major is about. Before you declare your major, the Undergraduate Chair will sit down with you and explain the courses required for the BA degree, and the different options and opportunities open to our majors.

You will need to fill out a Declaration of Major Form, and have it signed by the Undergraduate Chair during this initial meeting.

You will need to submit your signed Declaration of Major Form to the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Office in Queen Lili‘uokalani Center Room 113.

To declare a major in American Studies, you must have and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Declaring a Double Major

We partner particularly well with more traditional disciplines, and many of our students choose to double major. A double major will offer you more in-depth training in traditional disciplinary research methods and content partnered with the breadth, flexibility and independence of American Studies.

It is easy to double major within the College of Arts and Sciences, but students who want to double major from other academic colleges need to be aware of the added graduation requirements this might entail.

To double major, you must first consult with the Undergraduate Chair, who will check if you meet the requirements, fill out and sign the Declaration of Major form, and help you craft an academic plan for your new major.

If American Studies is your second major, you will need to fill out a Declaration of Major form to “add” American Studies to your major, then submit your signed Declaration of Major Form in Queen Lili‘uokalani Center Room 113.

Note: There is now no need to write an essay justifying a second major as indicated in the form, but we do recommend setting up a JUMP session in order to make sure your graduation requirements are in order.

Honors Program

The American Studies Honors Program is designed to allow our most talented and motivated students more opportunities for in-depth exploration of the interdisciplinary field. These opportunities include self-designed internships and independent studies with professors in particular specialties, taking graduate courses upon approval from the Undergraduate Chair, working with their professors to craft more extensive projects in their upper-division electives for the major, and producing original research projects.

Students wishing to pursue the Honors Track in American Studies must apply to, and be accepted into, the UHM Honors Program. They must complete all Honors Program requirements. These requirements are different depending on whether a student applies as a first or second year, or as an upper-division Honors Student.

Essentially the Honors Track adds 6 credits and an Honors Thesis to the regular American Studies graduation requirements. The six added credits usually take the form of a Honors Junior seminar (HON 491) and an added Independent Study (HON 496) to extend and deepen the American Studies senior thesis. In preparation for the Honors thesis project, students will need to find an undergraduate advisor and form an advisory committee to consult with over the course of their project.

Lastly, students who take the Honors Track will need to present their research proposals and findings at the Honors Symposia.

To find out more about the Honors Track in American Studies, go to the UHM Honors Program website.

Independent work/ Internships

AMST 499 is a course alpha for student-designed directed readings or internship experiences.

In consultation with the Undergraduate Chair and an advisor students may craft an independent reading course in a subject area not currently covered by existing American Studies coursework as a 499 course.

More often, students who are interested in designing a “bridge” experience from university to the real world will use a 499 to create a course around an internship.

This course can count as one of the courses toward the 9 credits requirement of upper division American Studies electives.

Curriculum Map

To help you plan out your coursework, American Studies has designed a curriculum map that outlines both major and graduation requirements.

This is only a suggested path to graduating with a major in American Studies. All students are different, and the best thing to do is to use it as a guide alongside advising from the Undergraduate Chair.

Completing your major

In the semester BEFORE the expected date of your graduation, you will be required to meet with the Undergraduate Chair to fill out the Goldenrod Form to demonstrate your completion of coursework for the BA in American Studies.

Here’s your checklist

  • Make an appointment with the Undergraduate Chair.
  • Fill out the form together and get it signed. If you are a double major or have a minor or certificates in addition to your American Studies major, we advise that you also complete the paperwork for these certifications at the same time in order to streamline your process.
  • Schedule a GRAD session with an advisor at the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Office in Queen Lili‘uokalani Center Room 113.

GRAD Sessions are mandatory group workshops for all Arts & Sciences Seniors. A GRAD Session should be attended one to two semesters prior to graduation.
Forms and instructions needed for JUMP and GRAD sessions can be found at the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising website.

  • Submit your Goldenrod. (and any other forms for other majors/minors, if pertinent)

In the semester that you plan to graduate, you are required to meet for an Exit Interview with the Undergraduate Advisor to discuss your final plans for completion, any obstacles on the path to graduation, possible incompletes, and future career or school choices. In preparation for this meeting, you will receive an Exit Interview Survey and submit your answers to the Undergraduate Chair in advance.

Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Substantial knowledge of American history, society, and culture, as well as a basic appreciation of different scholarly approaches to American Studies.
  2. Critical thinking skills necessary to analyze a variety of cultural artifacts (literature, primary documents, film, music, etc.), as well as historical and present-day sociopolitical issues.
  3. Competence in scholarly writing and oral communication.
  4. Basic research skills, including advanced research skills in one area of specialization (majors only).

For a minor in American Studies, students must complete 15 credit hours of 300- or 400-level American Studies electives with the advice of the undergraduate adviser (no more than 3 credit hours of AMST 499 may be counted).

AMST 383 (Approaches to American Studies, offered in Spring only) is not required, but is recommended as one of the electives.

Declaring a Minor

Make an appointment and meet with the Undergraduate Chair to discuss your decision and to go over the requirements for the minor.

Fill out a Declaration of Minor form, get it signed by the Undergraduate Chair, and submit your signed Declaration of Minor form to the signed Declaration of Major form to the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Office in Queen Lili‘uokalani Center Room 113.

Completing a Minor

Ideally, in the semester before your graduation, you will make an appointment with the Undergraduate Chair to fill out your Verification of Minor Form. This form needs to be signed by your Major Advisor as well as the American Studies Undergraduate Chair, then submitted to the signed Declaration of Major form to the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Office in Queen Lili‘uokalani Center Room 113.

Can’t find the right form?