What to do with a Degree in American Studies?

Students who graduate with a BA in American Studies find they are suited to a diverse range of employment because of their strong critical and analytical skills. Such dexterity is acquired on the degree programme by way of a number of different subject disciplines. As a result, students have the option to move into a number of careers depending on the individual’s interests and goals. Here at the University of Hull, based on information from our Alumni Office and the Careers & Employability Service, we can boast graduates in American Studies who have gone into teaching, television production, screenwriting, law, journalism, finance, graduate business schemes, PR, marketing, politics, the charity sector, publishing, and international education. We have even produced authors, actors, massage therapists and football executives! One of our recent graduates won the prestigious BAAS Graduate Assistantship in American Studies at the University of Wyoming.

Throughout their time on an American Studies degree programme, students are encouraged to study in an inter-disciplinary manner. They take modules in history, literature, politics, media, film, visual cultures, among others. They may simultaneously take additional options in languages and other non-humanities subjects. Moreover, if they are on the four-year degree programme, while they are in the US they engage with a host of topics from sociology to criminology to anthropology and sports studies. This multi-disciplinary emphasis means students find a number of employability doors are opened to them, more so than their colleagues on more inflexible degrees with less diverse thinking.

Consequently, employers have learnt to recognise that American Studies graduates are not only knowledgeable in a number of areas (and extremely competent at forging connections between those different fields), but carry a range of key skills that can be put to use in the workplace. At the University of Hull we work hard to ensure our American Studies teaching staff incorporate a range of learning techniques that will build a student’s proficiency in a series of competencies. Indeed, our American Studies graduates tend to leave the university with excellent writing skills, strong organisation, impeccable communication skills, research savvy, close reading / analytical skills, and most importantly, a probing and inquisitive mind that is continually eager to learn.

Students in American Studies have traditionally done well on graduate training schemes, successfully winning competitive placements with large companies such as the Royal Mail. In part, this stems from the cross-cultural awareness that the classroom topics, as well as the year abroad provide. Graduate employers have time and again sought students who are comfortable in global positions and despite the “American” label, those who spend the year in the US often find a broader international outlook through studying and living among other students from across the world. Furthermore, our students’ success rates on popular graduate schemes is attributable to – quite simply – our students being confident and interesting, attributes which are oftentimes cemented during the year abroad.

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