WHY BE AN AMS MAJOR?

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AMERICAN STUDIES MAJORS TURN PASSIONS TO PROFESSIONS

 

American Studies provides an excellent, broad education in the liberal arts. Our goal is that you become a good critical thinker, that you develop excellent writing skills, and that you “learn how to learn,” that is, you learn to figure out what intellectual tools and specialized knowledge you will need to perform a task or solve a problem. We believe these intellectual and communication skills will prepare you for just about anything you face after graduation.

But we live in a real world where people seek occupations and professions. Here, in no particular order, are some of the most common professions our graduates enter.

  • Graduate School. Several of our graduates have chosen to continue their study by entering Masters and Doctoral programs in American Studies, history, folklore, popular culture studies, and so on. The American Studies office maintains a binder of current information on graduate programs in American Studies, and posts information on the AMS bulletin board across from the program office. In addition, the core faculty offers an information meeting in the fall for students interested in learning about graduate study.

  • Teaching Credential Programs. An interdisciplinary program like American Studies prepares you well for the multiple subject credential, and you can use the emphasis to prepare yourself for a single subject credential. Sometimes students headed for credential programs create an emphasis on “American Children” or “Schooling in America,” drawing upper-division coursework from the departments of education, sociology, and psychology. Some students, recognizing that they will be teaching in multicultural California, choose to create an emphasis that samples coursework from each of the ethnic studies programs, adding the multicultural literature course (ENL 179) from the department of English. If you plan a career in teaching, you’ll probably want to take the “Lives of Children in America” (AMS152).

  • Law. American Studies is a traditional pre-law major in Eastern universities, especially the Ivy League schools, but the field is less well known in the West. American Studies makes an excellent pre-law degree, as you learn the sort of critical thinking and culture analysis that you will need in law school and in legal practice. You can create a “Law and Society” emphasis from courses in sociology, political science, the ethnic studies programs, psychology, and other departments and programs. Or you might create an emphasis on “Recent America,” drawing on history, literature, sociology, and other courses.

  • Business. We know from our conversations with sponsors of our internships that the two skills employers look for in a university graduate are (1) the ability to think critically, and (2) the ability to communicate well the ideas that result from that critical thinking. We believe the American Studies major provides these skills. Beyond these skills, however, you can design your emphasis toward a business specialization. For example, careers in advertising, marketing, and public relations could be served well by an interdisciplinary emphasis on “Mass Communications,” combining coursework from history, rhetoric and communication, sociology, art, psychology, etc. Mass Communications. Some of our graduates have gone into electronic and Mass Communications. Some of our graduates have gone into electronic and print journalism. American Studies provides the critical thinking that serves well the demands of these professions, and our emphasis on writing helps hone those skills. An emphasis on “Modern Society” or “Mass Society” could combine coursework from history, sociology, rhetoric & communication, psychology, and a number of other departments and programs, including ethnic studies, women’s studies and film studies.

  • Museum Curatorship. At least three of our graduates are curators at important museums. In preparing for this career, you could create an emphasis combining coursework in art, anthropology, and history.

There are more careers our majors have fashioned for themselves, and even we are surprised when alumnae/i drop by to tell us what they are doing and how their American Studies major still helps them in their work. You might want to use AMS 192: Internship in American Institutions (usually 4 units) to help you explore a possible work setting.