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, public health and urban planning. 

  • Teaching Credential Programs. An interdisciplinary program like American Studies prepares you well for the single and 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. American Studies provides the critical thinking that serves well the demands of writing and journalism, and our emphasis on writing helps hone those skills. 

  • Museum Curatorship, Art and Media

Read over My Major is American Studies to get an idea of where one former UCD American Studies graduate has taken their career. There are a wide variety of 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.