American studies provides a solid foundation in theories and methods applicable to the investigation of American culture and society, past and present.
The undergraduate program of American studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the cultural complexities of the United States and the people, places, literary and visual arts, ideas and institutions that comprise it.
Our interdisciplinary focus on cultural constructions and identity is complemented with courses outside the American studies department. Through majoring in American studies, students will gain transferable skills in critical thinking, verbal and written communications, analytical thinking and research, all of which are sought by employers and advanced degree programs.
Two broad themes inform the department’s teaching and research: the social construction of difference and the culture of everyday life. The former speaks to the ways in which affiliations are created and sustained; the latter focuses on patterns of belief and value that give form and meaning to the lived experience of Americans, past and present. Through these emphases, the program aims to help students develop knowledge about American society and culture that is critical, contextual and informed by a high degree of personal awareness.
A note for students of American studies about writing.
What Can I Do as an AMST Major?
Maryland’s undergraduate program in American studies is one of the nation’s oldest and best regarded. Originally conceived as a cooperative venture combining sociology, government, U. S. history and American literature, American studies continues to be an interdisciplinary field that draws widely on the university’s superb resources in the humanities and social sciences as well as the intellectual resources of the Washington, D.C. area.
The National Association of Colleges & Employers’ (NACE) 2011 Job Outlook listed the skills and abilities employers are seeking. The top 10 were:
- Communication (verbal)
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication (written)
- Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)
- Digital media skills
Organizations consistently seek candidates who possess a collection of “transferable skills”—skills acquired through your classes, extracurricular involvement, experience and hobbies that are applicable to virtually any position. The skills listed above all fit into this category and students in the arts and humanities, as noted by professionals and academics alike, participate in a rich curriculum that develops their skills in many, if not all, of these areas and beyond, making them extremely marketable and valuable to potential employers. In the current Recruiting Trends report put out by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, nearly 40% of employers indicate that they will seek candidates across “all majors,” focusing more on the skills and abilities needed in the organization than on a specific academic discipline.
An American studies degree can be shaped to fit a variety of disciplines and the broad skill set you acquire allows you to apply your knowledge in many exciting areas. The University Career Center’s most recent graduate survey showed that upon graduation ARHU students entered into a range of dynamic industries including: Arts, Government, Academia/Education, Non-Profit/Philanthropy, Health Services/Healthcare Communications/Media, Advertising, Technology, Food & Hospitality Services, Entertainment, Social Services and more!
Sample job titles include:
- FBI/CIA Agent
- Law Enforcement Officer
- Park Ranger
- Museum Curator
- Urban Planner
Gaining Experience With Your Degree
It’s never too early to start your search for experience. Internships enable students to gain a sense of what it would be like to work in a particular field as they develop marketable skills and establish contacts that may lead to a job offer upon graduation.Explore Opportunities Beyond the Classroom