American Studies

American Studies at Russell Sage College is an interdisciplinary major that offers students the opportunity to get to know the United States as a geographic, cultural, and political entity. Students explore the shared values and diverse character of the American experience, shaped as it is by gender, race, class, geography, and ethnicity. The academic experience is placed in a practical context of today's global economic, cultural, and political relations.

The core of the American Studies program focuses on the study of U.S. literature, culture, and history. Other courses offer a rich diversity of topics including U.S. economics, social policy, arts, and global relations, allowing students to take their study of the U.S. in a broad range of directions.

Students are encouraged, but not required, to develop emphases within the American Studies program that allow them to pursue their interests in specific related areas including U.S. Culture, Material Culture, or American Communities. Internship opportunities with Rensselaer County Historical Society, the State Legislature, and other local organizations allow students to develop these emphases in individual ways.

What you can do

  • Become a librarian, archivist, or museum curator.
  • Write or edit for a newspaper, magazine, or other publication.
  • Contribute your skills and knowledge to a non-profit organization.
  • Work in government as a lobbyist or legislator.
  • Go on to graduate school in law, business, American Studies or another field that you feel passionate about.

What you'll earn

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in American Studies can earn between $30,000 and $66,000 per year. Salary depends upon job setting and requirements, geographic location, and level of experience and education.

At Sage you'll...

  • Have conversations about the meanings of America, its shared values, diverse cultures and communities, and global contexts.
  • Become familiar with the key issues, figures, and debates currently shaping the country.
  • Be encouraged, but not required, to develop an emphasis within the American Studies program, allowing you to pursue interests in specific areas within the program.

Examples of American Studies Courses

  • U.S. History I & II
  • American Environmental Literature
  • Latino/Latina Literature
  • Native American Literature
  • The 60s and the U.S.
  • Women and U.S. Social Movements
  • History of Contemporary Art
  • American Political Thought
  • Modern American Novel
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Selecting an Emphasis

American Studies students choose electives from a diverse range of interdisciplinary and special topics courses and are encouraged to develop an emphasis in their own area of interest. Examples include:

US Cultural Studies: Students interested in the arts and culture can take courses in theatre, music, and literature, and might pursue internships with arts organizations, museums, or local media.

Studies in Material Culture: Students interested in museum studies, library studies, or other public culture fields might select electives in the arts, sociology and communications, and intern with local museums and historical societies doing research, archival, or educational work.

American Communities: Students interested in community development, social action, or law and government might select electives in sociology and political science. These students might intern with the State Legislature, a community action group, or NYPIRG.

Renaissance Baccalaureate: Your Degree in Three

For those students who qualify, the B.A. in American Studies can be completed through Russell Sage's Renaissance Baccalaureate program, an accelerated honors program that allows students to earn a bachelor's degree in three years. This innovative program emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and independent work. After their first year, students participate in Russell Sage's "Summer on the Hudson" program, an integrated, interdisciplinary program which fulfills a range of general education requirements. The following summer is dedicated to an internship with a local historical society, non-profit agency, or other organization of the student's choosing.

Program Contact

Shealeen Meaney, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
English and Modern Languages
Carriage House, Troy
518-244-2424
meanes@sage.edu