About the Undergraduate Program

The Department of American Studies and Ethnicity integrates humanistic and social scientific perspectives and brings them to bear on an examination of the United States with a particular emphasis on comparative study of the peoples, cultures, history, and social issues of the Western United States. The program offers four separate majors in American Studies and EthnicityAfrican American StudiesAsian American StudiesChicano/Latino Studies, and American Popular Culture; and minors in American Studies and Ethnicity, American Popular Culture, and Jewish American Studies.

Drawing upon the cultural resources of a cosmopolitan city on the Pacific Rim, and upon the strength and diversity of departments in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences and of USC’s professional schools, these degree programs provide a richly interdisciplinary curriculum that is unique for its constitution of American Studies and Ethnic Studies as a comparative and interethnic program that takes as its focus a region — Los Angeles, California, and the West — marked by challenging social and cultural changes.

Learning Goals

American Studies & Ethnicity (ASE) at USC is unique because of its new approach to both American Studies and Ethnic Studies by bringing them together within one department. ASE includes multiple academic disciplines in both the humanities and social sciences to critically examine American culture and racial, ethnic, and gender inequalities towards social change and social justice. ASE emphasizes comparative work to examine these issues within the diversity and complexity of the United States, North America, and the Western Hemisphere.

The learning objectives of the ASE majors include:


  • Knowledge of the changing theoretical and empirical debates in the study of such central areas of society as race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion and how such scholarly debates impact the study and analysis of social issues.
  • An understanding of the diverse peoples and cultures that have composed the United States and critical perspectives on the cultural and material practices that have shaped this country in it regional, ethnic, class, and gender diversity.
  • Knowledge of a range of theoretical frameworks in the field and the ability to evaluate empirical evidence to provide the skills to analyze social issues in society and to be a critical reader of published research.
  • As an interdisciplinary major, knowledge of the research methods used in the humanities and social sciences, and the development of a research project utilizing the appropriate methods carried out under faculty supervision.
  • Application of knowledge through the completion of an internship and/or participating in public service in an area specially related to the fields of study.

Honors Program

The department offers a two-semester honors program for qualified students, first identified in ASE 350 or by the program advisor. Students spend their first semester in the honors program in an honors senior seminar, ASE 492, focused on developing their research and methods for the honors thesis. During the second semester, all honors students are required to take ASE 493, in which each completes a thesis project on a topic of his or her own choosing under faculty direction. Contact the program advisor for further information. To graduate with honors, program majors must successfully complete an honors thesis and have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in their major course work.


Contact Us

Department of American Studies & Ethnicity

Located in Kaprielian Hall on the University Park campus, ASE faculty, graduate students, and staff are available to assist you with information and resources about our academic programs and research specialties.


University of Southern California

3620 South Vermont Avenue

Kaprielian Hall 462

Los Angeles, California 90089-2534