An American Studies degree is an interdisciplinary program that examines the history, culture, and politics of the United States. It is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of American society and its place in the world. American Studies programs are offered at many universities across the United States, and they typically require students to take courses in a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, sociology, and political science.
Students who major in American Studies gain critical thinking and analytical skills that are valuable in a wide range of careers. They learn how to analyze complex social and cultural issues, and they develop the ability to communicate their ideas effectively. Graduates of American Studies programs are well-prepared for careers in fields such as education, law, journalism, public service, and the arts.
One of the unique aspects of American Studies is its interdisciplinary approach. Students are encouraged to explore the connections between different disciplines and to think creatively about the ways in which they can be applied to real-world problems. American Studies programs also emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and they often include courses that examine the experiences of marginalized groups in American society.
What is an American Studies Degree?
Overview of American Studies
An American Studies degree is a flexible and interdisciplinary program that explores the history, culture, politics, and society of the United States. It is a combination of various fields, including history, literature, sociology, anthropology, political science, and cultural studies. The program is designed to provide students with a critical understanding of American society and culture, and to equip them with the skills necessary to analyze and interpret complex social phenomena.
History of American Studies
The study of American culture and society has a long history, dating back to the 19th century. However, the field of American Studies as we know it today emerged in the 20th century, in response to the increasing globalization and diversification of American society. The interdisciplinary nature of American Studies reflects the belief that no single discipline can fully capture the complexity of American society and culture.
Why Pursue an American Studies Degree?
There are many reasons to pursue an American Studies degree. For one, it is a highly flexible program that can lead to a wide range of career opportunities. Graduates with an American Studies degree can go on to work in fields such as law, education, journalism, politics, business, and the arts. Additionally, an American Studies degree provides students with a critical understanding of American society and culture, which is essential for navigating the complex social and political issues of our time.
Moreover, an American Studies degree is an excellent preparation for graduate study in a variety of fields, including law, history, sociology, and literature. The program equips students with the skills necessary to conduct independent research, analyze complex social phenomena, and communicate their findings effectively.
Programs and Curriculum
Types of American Studies Programs
American Studies programs are offered at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate programs usually offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, while graduate programs offer Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Some programs also offer certificate programs for students who want to gain a deeper understanding of American culture but do not want to pursue a full degree.
American Studies programs typically require students to take a set of core courses that provide a broad understanding of American culture. These courses may include American history, literature, politics, and society. Students may also be required to take courses in research methods and writing.
In addition to the core courses, American Studies programs offer a variety of elective courses that allow students to tailor their degree to their interests. These courses may include topics such as American popular culture, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and globalization. Students may also be able to take courses in related fields, such as anthropology, sociology, and political science.
Many American Studies programs require students to complete a capstone project, which is a culminating project that demonstrates their understanding of American culture. This project may take the form of a research paper, a creative project, or a community engagement project. The capstone project allows students to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout their degree to a real-world problem or issue. Overall, American Studies programs provide students with a deep understanding of American culture and its place in the world. Students who complete an American Studies degree are well-prepared for a variety of careers, including law, education, journalism, and public service.
While American Studies is not a trade degree that trains you for a specific job, it builds a range of skills desired by a wide range of employers. Graduates with an American Studies degree can find employment in a variety of fields, including business, communications, government service, law, social services, teaching, and more.
Employers who value the skills developed in an American Studies degree include:
Some common job titles for American Studies graduates include:
- Public Relations Specialist
- Non-Profit Program Coordinator
- Policy Analyst
- Historical Researcher
- Grant Writer
- Corporate Communications Specialist
The salary for an American Studies graduate can vary depending on the job title and industry. According to Payscale, the average salary for some common job titles are:
|Job Title||Average Salary|
|Public Relations Specialist||$51,000|
|Non-Profit Program Coordinator||$40,000|
|Corporate Communications Specialist||$63,000|
Skills and Competencies
Completing an American Studies degree prepares you with a range of skills and competencies that are highly valued in various fields. These skills and competencies are:
American Studies majors develop strong critical thinking skills, which are essential in a variety of careers. Critical thinking involves analyzing information, evaluating arguments, and making informed decisions. American Studies majors learn to think critically about complex issues and to develop well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence.
Research and Analysis
American Studies majors develop strong research and analysis skills, which are essential in many careers. Research and analysis involve gathering and evaluating information from a variety of sources and using it to draw conclusions. American Studies majors learn to conduct research using a variety of methods, including archival research, interviews, and surveys. They also learn to analyze and interpret data, and to present their findings in clear and concise reports.
American Studies majors develop strong communication skills, which are essential in many careers. Communication involves conveying information clearly and effectively to others. American Studies majors learn to communicate effectively through a variety of mediums, including written reports, oral presentations, and digital media. They also learn to adapt their communication style to different audiences and contexts.
American Studies majors develop cultural competency skills, which are essential in today’s diverse and globalized world. Cultural competency involves understanding and appreciating different cultures and perspectives. American Studies majors learn to analyze and interpret cultural texts, such as literature, art, and film, and to understand the historical and social contexts in which they were produced. They also learn to engage with diverse communities and to work collaboratively with people from different backgrounds.
Admissions and Requirements
To apply for an American Studies degree program, applicants must submit an application through the university’s admissions office. The application process typically involves submitting transcripts from all previous schools attended, a personal statement, and a resume. Some universities may also require a writing sample or a portfolio of work.
Most American Studies degree programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some programs may also require applicants to have completed specific coursework in areas such as history, literature, or social sciences.
Standardized tests such as the GRE or TOEFL may be required for admission to an American Studies degree program. The specific tests required may vary by program and by the applicant’s background. Applicants should check with the admissions office of their desired program to determine which tests are required.
Applicants may be required to submit letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or other professional contacts. These letters should speak to the applicant’s academic or professional abilities and potential for success in an American Studies degree program.
Some American Studies degree programs may require applicants to participate in an interview as part of the admissions process. The interview may be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video conference. The purpose of the interview is to assess the applicant’s fit for the program and to answer any questions the applicant may have about the program.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
One of the biggest concerns for students pursuing an American Studies degree is how to finance their education. Fortunately, there are many financial aid and scholarship opportunities available to help students pay for their tuition, fees, and other expenses. Here are some of the most common types of financial aid available to American Studies students:
Types of Financial Aid
Grants: Grants are a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. They are typically awarded based on financial need, academic achievement, or other criteria. American Studies students may be eligible for federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, as well as state and institutional grants.
Scholarships: Scholarships are another form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid. They are typically awarded based on academic achievement, athletic ability, or other criteria. American Studies students may be eligible for scholarships from their school, as well as from outside organizations.
Loans: Loans are a type of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. American Studies students may be eligible for federal student loans, such as the Direct Subsidized Loan and the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, as well as private student loans.
Work-Study Programs: Work-study programs provide students with part-time jobs on campus to help them pay for their education. American Studies students may be eligible for work-study programs through their school or through the Federal Work-Study Program.
Scholarships and Grants
There are many scholarships and grants available specifically for American Studies students. Here are a few examples:
|The American Studies Association Minority Scholars Award||$1,000||Minority students pursuing a degree in American Studies|
|The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Essay Contest||$500-$5,000||Undergraduate and graduate students studying American history or political science|
|The Fulbright U.S. Student Program||Varies||Undergraduate and graduate students studying American culture or history|
Loans and Work-Study Programs
American Studies students may be eligible for federal student loans, such as the Direct Subsidized Loan and the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. These loans have fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options. Work-study programs provide students with part-time jobs on campus to help them pay for their education. American Studies students may be eligible for work-study programs through their school or through the Federal Work-Study Program.