American Studies at a Glance


What is American Studies?

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field in which we analyze various facets of American culture with a focus on issues of race, ethnicity, class, and gender.  The Department of American Studies is the oldest interdisciplinary department on campus. We are a leader on campus in fields of community-engaged research and public humanities.


What will I learn in American Studies coursework?

The Department of American Studies provides students with the skills to critically analyze issues of race, place, and identity through a local and transnational lens. In American Studies we use an array of methods to study diverse subject areas including: multiethnic literatures and the diverse ways people read and interpret texts, the political economic and ethnographic dimensions of food, place-based approaches to urban development, and histories of policing and prisons.


What can I do with a degree in American Studies?

American Studies (AMST) is the ideal major for students who are interested in careers in law (particularly areas of immigration, public interest, and human rights), journalism, teaching, museums, non-profit organizations, education, and public policy.

Surveys of our graduates show that they select careers in the following broad categories:

  • Law: specifically field focused on social justice, such as immigrant or family law
  • Teaching and education-related fields (including library, educational administration, etc.)
  • Business (administrative, managerial)
  • Social services (including social work and community/non-profit fields)
  • Communications, public relations, journalism
  • Public service
  • Museums and cultural institutions

A high percentage of our graduates earn advanced degrees after completing their UMBC education. Some seek M.A. or Ph.D. degrees in American Studies or in such related fields as English, public humanities, folklore, or museum studies. A larger number pursue advanced degrees in areas related to their professional career choices, such as law, education, or social work.