What Do You Do With A Degree in American Studies?

This is a familiar and appropriate question in a liberal arts university. Usually it means, how can you apply this major to a career? We, in American Studies, like most who have chosen the liberal arts, would say that liberal arts education is for life, not just for a job. But we must also be realistic—and realistically speaking, American Studies provides essential writing, analytical, and critical skills applicable to a wide variety of careers. In fact, our American Studies graduates have found their way into a great many interesting and satisfying career areas:

Here’s what a freelance writer and film producer had to say about her American Studies major:

American Studies to me was more a method than a field of study. It honed my organizational and writing skills and provided an opportunity to juggle ideas and problems, to figure out how they are related and how to solve them. It forced you to initiate your own approach at home.

Or, as another wrote us:

Nine years out of college I firmly believe that with a good liberal arts background one can learn anything…. I would do an American Studies degree again—it stood me in good stead for a varied career and one that I hope will only become more diverse.

Another, a teacher, noted:

American Studies prepared me for the vast cultural differences between my students and me. And while some majors teach the theory of cooperative learning in their classes, my AMST courses taught me cooperative learning in practice.

Or as another, now an attorney, said simply:

The study of liberal arts is essential to any kind of profession requiring any modicum of thought and analysis.

Surveys of our graduates show that they select careers in the following broad categories (listed in order of frequency):

  • Teaching and education-related fields (including library, educational administration, etc.)
  • Business (administrative, managerial)
  • Social services (including social work and religious professionals)
  • 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, history, or museumstudies. A larger number pursue advanced degrees in areas related to their professional career choices, such as law, education, or social work. See your advisor for information about AMST and graduate or professional study.