University of Iowa

American Studies

A self-critical and historically grounded examination of the United States and its diverse people must be viewed from both a local and global context. Those of us who dedicate our education to the study of our own culture can benefit especially from living and working in another place. Learning about our country from the outside offers whole new perspectives on American culture. A study abroad experience provides American Studies students with a point of view they would be unable to gain without venturing outside the confines of our nation’s borders.

Many foreign universities have American Studies departments that offer students the ability to fulfill their major or General Education requirements, all while enjoying the excitement of living abroad. You could take a course on American Musicals, and then catch a weekend show in London’s West End. Or study U.S. Presidential elections during a Finnish presidential election year!

London, England

You can also fulfill American Studies elective requirements, take General Education classes, explore general electives in subjects that interest you, or immerse yourself in language study and internships.

Freshman: New American Studies majors may be best served by spending their first year at Iowa, completing foundation courses and determining which area of focus they would like to pursue.

Sophomores: Sophomore year is an excellent time to go abroad to complete General Education requirements or American Studies major requirements.

Juniors: Junior year is probably the best time for the American Studies major to spend a semester or year abroad completing upper-level coursework.

Seniors: Senior year can be another great time for a study abroad experience. Consider taking courses not offered by the University of Iowa that will enrich your understanding of American Studies. Consider taking advantage of an internship for credit while abroad; it is a wonderful way to help ease the transition into post-academic life.

General Education Program and Elective Courses


Golfing in Swansea, Wales

Many study abroad locations will offer coursework that will count towards the General Education Program requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Study Abroad office approves GEP courses, so please talk to your Study Abroad advisor for instructions.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires that all students acquire either fourth-semester competency or the departmental equivalent in a foreign language. If you need to complete your World Languages GEP requirement, you could consider studying abroad to fully immerse yourself in a language and complete this requirement in as little as one semester.

Taking elective courses abroad is exciting because you have the chance to explore a topic you could never study in the U.S.

Please see the American Studies Undergraduate Requirements website for more information on degree requirements.

At least 24 semester hours of the major must be earned at the University of Iowa, unless special approval for an exception is granted in writing in advance of study abroad by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in American Studies.

  • The American Studies department allows its students to transfer credit earned abroad toward the six hours of required American History.
  • In general, the Department accepts 12 credits transferred from abroad, but if you would like to study abroad longer than a semester, the Department may be open to accepting more credits on a case-by-case basis.
  • The three required courses (45:020 Sources in American Studies, 45:025 Diversity and American Identities, 45:090 Seminar in American Cultural Studies) may be taken abroad with prior approval.
  • It is important to remember when planning your course of study that American Studies is an interdisciplinary major and that courses taken overseas in one of the focus areas must have American content. For example, you may choose to take a music class that focuses on Jazz or Blues and examines its position as an American art form.
  • If you would like to study in a non-English speaking nation, there are many programs that offer pre-sessional language classes that can widen study abroad opportunities even further.
  • See the Programs section for further details on these and other opportunities.
  • Planning ahead is the key to a successful experience!


Programs in Europe

Regents Semester in Wales

American Studies at Swansea is a broad-based inter-disciplinary degree which is among the most challenging choices for students interested in the liberal arts and social sciences. The department is one of the leading centers for American Studies in the U.K. and offers a wide range of courses in American literature, history, politics, and popular culture.


The Hague, Netherlands

Radboud University Nijmegen Exchange

Radboud University Nijmegen is one of the leading academic communities in the Netherlands. It was established in 1923 and is situated in the oldest city of the Netherlands. Instruction in English is available.

International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) Finland

ISEP is a multilateral exchange program involving hundreds of universities around the world. The University of Iowa is a member of ISEP. Participating on an ISEP exchange program requires an independent, confident attitude. For more information, schedule an appointment with a Study Abroad advisor.

Dortmund University Exchange

Take a semester or year abroad in Germany’s metropolitan heartland! The University of Dortmund exchange offers UI students a unique blend of courses that combine language and culture studies with academic work in their major and minor subjects. Please note: proficiency in German is required for this program.