Making Sense of American Experiences

An interdisciplinary program, American Studies encourages you to explore social, cultural, political and other aspects of America and American society. Learn to evaluate information from disparate sources, weaving it together to make sense of America. Through American Studies at HWS, you'll work to make the invisible visible and amplify access for those unheard.

Student SpotlightTaylor Ashe '24

Major: American Studies
minor: Economics 

"As I’ve progressed throughout my years at the Colleges, I’ve really enjoyed the freedom American Studies has given me to explore my interests and various facets of American life. One of my favorite projects was research on women's fashion and liberation in the Baby Boomer generation. The program has amazing professors who support and push you to grow as a writer, researcher and critical thinker."


Experiential EducationTake Control of Your Learning

In the classroom, American Studies students often drive the discussion, bringing current events and topical issues to their coursework. Rather than lecturing, faculty encourage students to develop their voices as activists, artists, writers and thinkers, and to use those voices outside their coursework.

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.




No Borders:Global Education

Whether you’re studying systems that created Jim Crow laws in Belgium or American television representation of Asian women in Hong Kong, you can take American Studies out of America by studying abroad.

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.




Honors and Research

And Research

All American Studies students complete an independent study as part of the senior capstone course. Culminating in a 20+ page research paper with significant academic sources cited, the experience prepares students for post-graduate education.

Students looking to further deepen their engagement in their work can also complete an Honors project on a topic of interest with the mentorship of an American Studies faculty member.

Belonging, Diversity and Equity

Born out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, belonging, equity and diversity are at the core of American Studies coursework. You’ll gain insight into cultural, political and social movements combating injustice and oppression, how those movements were shaped, what the results have been and where the next steps lead.

More than that, you’ll be led by faculty who are active on these issues in the local community and pride themselves on practicing what they teach.



Become immersed in historical, cultural and artistic aspects that make American Studies a diverse, interdisciplinary subject.

AMST 202 Drawing for Study and Storytelling

Introduce yourself to habits and approaches in drawing as a creative tool to think, represent and interpret the world and ourselves visually.

AMST 222 American Empire

Study the history of the American empire and its impact abroad.

AMST 330 Digital Humanities

Through a mixture of seminar discussions, hands-on tutorials and project-based work, gain theoretical and practical foundation covering topics such as digitalization, encoding, analysis and visualization.

related courses

Arth 214 Intro to museum studieS

Develop a foundation in the history and theory of museums, institutional collection and the interpretation of culture. 

Alum ImpactFrom Reaction to Action

Benjamin Greiner ’18

CEO and Founder at The TAD Project

A firsthand experience with a friend dealing with depression led Benjamin to take action. Through the Colleges’ Pitch Contest, that action became The TAD Project, a website that provides support and resources to help people discuss depression and mental health.


American Studies Outcomes

American Studies offers students the flexibility for multiple career and post-graduate pathways. Students have gone on to careers in journalism, law, community organizations and teaching. As an interdisciplinary program, the possibilities are limitless.