Asking the difficult questions

Whether the focus is national or global, students and faculty focus on big questions. 

  • What is America?
  • Who is American?
  • What does it mean to be an American?

We interpret textual sources and visual culture as we employ diverse disciplinary perspectives to think about those questions, including approaches from history, politics, art, literary studies, and media studies.

Diverse perspectives

At Notre Dame, we have unusual strength in the study of America’s religious diversity, offering courses on Catholicism, Buddhism, and Islam in America.

The department includes experts in the study of art and architecture, African American novels and Latino films, the natural environment and the urban landscape, as well as gender, race, class, and immigration. Whatever their specialization, departmental faculty share a commitment to think about diversity in U.S. culture. We are proud to be one of the places on campus that leads difficult dialogues about what divides Americans and what brings us together.

Notre Dame’s department includes faculty who write and teach about U.S. cultural exchanges with Mexico, Cuba, France, Italy, Japan, Iran, and Turkey.

The department welcomes students from abroad and has undergraduate exchange opportunities with a German and a British university, so some of our juniors can look back on the U.S. from across the Atlantic.

The department’s loyal graduates come back to tell us that our long-standing emphasis on written and oral communication, along with the recent focus on undergraduate research, has helped their careers in business, medicine, law, education, journalism, media and entertainment, and social service.

Journalism: A life skill

The department is also home to the Gallivan Program’s Minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy.

Notre Dame has been educating future journalists for more than a century. Today, The Gallivan Program—which is open to undergraduates of any major across the University—continues the tradition of preparing students for careers in all forms of contemporary news media.

Our courses cover the craft of journalism—everything from ethics to multimedia reporting. A student can begin the minor in either the sophomore or junior year.

A storied tradition

American Studies, initially called “American Civilization,” began during the 1930s, with the first programs at Harvard and Yale. The American Studies Association, a learned society, was chartered in 1951. Today that organization’s 5,000 members study U.S. history and culture from multiple perspectives, and there are American Studies departments and programs across the country and around the world.


The Department of American Studies welcomes your support in any number of ways. We value the time, talent, and treasure of our graduates and friends and welcome collaborative efforts to further our work. Make a gift by clicking our donate button down below or connect with the department about other ways to get involved. Please contact Jason Ruiz at jruiz3@nd.edu for any questions about ways to support the department.