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Careers in American Studies

What can I do with a degree in American Studies?

Unlike pre-professional degrees, American Studies majors do not have a ready-made job waiting for them when they graduate. Only a small percentage of majors go on to work in the field of American Studies. However, the interdisciplinary training that American Studies majors receive provides a solid foundation for success in many fields. Most of our majors go on to careers in law, education, business, politics, research, journalism, entertainment, the arts, and social organizing.


Our student learning outcomes (SLOS) tell only part of the story.

  • Effective writing skills are important in any job that requires a college degree, and American Studies’ writing-focused curriculum will prepare you to be an effective communicator.
  • Critical analysis skills are important for jobs that require independence of thought and the ability to digest, translate and relate different kinds of data with the appropriate tools, and come up with creative and practical solutions to problems.
  • Research skills are vital to virtually any jobs in this information age. The ability to finding out crucial and reliable information about past practices and polities, events and issues, as well as find out new information or how to generate new, better data, is a crucial skill.
  • Interdisciplinary thinking and training allows you to think about a problem or issue from different perspectives and in multiple ways, to analyze it using a variety of tools, and to draw from different traditions of thought when formulating a solution.


So how do these skills prepare me for a job?

  • One pathway leads to graduate school, either in American Studies or in a more traditional discipline like English or history. Another leads to professional school—law, urban planning, architecture, or social work.
  • An American Studies major can also lead directly to 
careers in politics, business, media, education, or the arts.
  • Careers successfully pursued by past American Studies graduates include teacher, university professor, law school dean, research archivist, television reporter, journalist, U.S. Congressman, Governor, novelist, architect, museum director, political organizer, foreign service officer, state historic preservation director, attorney, advertising/public relations executive, environmental consultant, real estate agent, graphic designer, university president, Hollywood 
screenwriter, actor, sports analyst, Broadway producer, corporate executives in a wide variety of fields, and much more.

short, while many undergraduate programs set you on a narrow career-track—often prematurely—American Studies expands your horizons.


Careers in American Studies Series

  • American Studies also regularly schedules different informational panels and workshops to help students find out more about different career tracks, professional school and graduate school. Examples in the past include “Careers in Law” and “Careers in Education.”
  • Panels and workshops often include an American Studies alumni, practicing professionals, and graduate or professional school faculty advisors.