What Can I Do with My American Musical Culture Major?

Students who study American musical culture complete a liberal arts curriculum that includes history, cultural studies, theory and performance courses. This interdisciplinary major focuses on all forms of music associated with the culture of the Americas, with emphasis on the intellectual, multicultural and international character of modern musical culture. This distinctive major combines critical and creative inquiry, and is designed for students interested in theater and performance, social justice, cultural criticism, dramaturgy, arts management, American and world cultures, education, and civic engagement. 

Students who decide to major in American musical culture develop core strengths in adaptation and performance, developing and constructing new work, community-based performance, play analysis and playwriting, stage direction, cross-cultural ensemble, solo performance, design and multimedia production, and world theater. Majors who are interested in individual music lessons have access to conservatory-level instruction through Georgetown’s collaboration with the Levine School of Music. The program prepares students to enter a broad range of fields by developing strong reading, writing and critical thinking skills.

The American musical culture major aims to develop students’ abilities in both critical and creative skills. This major allows for the development of a core set of skills in a wide range of occupational settings. Throughout your experience in the program, you will obtain the following skills:

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Understanding complex factors within problems
  • Perceiving patterns/structures
  • Comparing/contrasting interpretations
  • Assessing cultural differences

Effective Communication Skills

  • Analytical writing
  • Concise writing
  • Editing
  • Drafting documents
  • Reading critically
  • Assessing conflicting viewpoints
  • Summarizing and presenting information
  • Public speaking

Research Skills

  • Defining problems
  • Formulating and assessing hypotheses
  • Gathering and interpreting information
  • Using original sources
  • Understanding cultural contexts
  • Interpreting data
  • Evaluating evidence and results

You can use the examples above, and experiences from classes or research projects to enhance your resume. Try plugging in some of your experiences or skills gained into this formula: Accomplished (X) as measured by (Y) by doing (Z).

Sample Resume Class 1, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Member of Class, taught by Prof. _____

  • Composed and produced recording project as (Insert Musicology/Ethnomusicology or Musical & Medial Studies or Sacred Music) Senior Capstone tying together (musical concept) and (musical concept) 
  • Developed and expanded audio production palette by gaining hands-on experience with time-tested hardware and software-based techniques such as (insert techniques) for sound design, electronic music, film, and audio storytelling in Experimental Audio Production course   
  • Developed a historical sense of the major stylistic trends in music, narrative, and performance style in the genre of the American musical by (insert example projects or assignments from course)

Georgetown Alumni have taken their American musical culture degree across multiple different industries and have applied the skills they learned in American musical culture across multiple disciplines. 

Additional information about these outcomes can be found in Cawley’s Post Graduation Outcome Report

“The most underrated benefit of studying American Musical Culture was that the group of students and professors were small and tightly knit, so it felt accessible. Professors listened to what classes students’ wanted to take, projects they wanted to do, and performances they wanted to see. The professors are what I enjoyed most about majoring in American Musical Culture.” – 2017 Graduate, American Musical Culture

“Something that made American Musical Culture special was that there weren’t a lot of students in the major, so it felt like a small community with familiar faces. A lot of the courses encouraged me to go to concerts, including on campus (like the Friday Concert Series) or off campus (at Blues Alley and other venues) that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. The professors really looked to build relationships with students and develop them over the years – I feel like I could go say “hi” to Professor Celenza anytime, even after graduating! I also liked that the American Musical Culture major was somewhat flexible in terms of what it actually focused on – there were fundamentals of music theory, but for the most part, there were a variety of approaches to the major from the perspectives of history, music production, business, etc. I know it’s not the most “popular” major at Georgetown but it really appealed to me because I wanted to study music and media without it being focused just on music theory and performance.” – 2020 Georgetown College Graduate, American Musical Culture

Helpful Keywords to Improve Searches
There are lots of ways to find good keywords to help your job or internship search process, or even just to learn more about the types of jobs you can do within a specific major. One way to explore this is by checking out the job search tool on Google. 

Once you are in, type in something generic like your major and the world internship afterward. Once you hit enter, it will give you lots of options to explore, but if you want to explore titles, possible career paths, or keywords, hover your mouse over the ‘Title’ tab on the top of the page. This will give you a ton of ideas and options to explore possible keywords. 

Sample Internship Opportunities

  • Public Radio (e.g., NPR, Voice of America)
  • Newspapers and Magazines (e.g., The Washington Post, Rolling Stone)
  • Libraries (e.g., Library of Congress, Lauinger Library)
  • Arts and Media (e.g., Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, NBC, ABC, CBS)
  • Museums (e.g., Smithsonian Institution)
  • International Studies (e.g., Embassy of Mexico, Embassy of Austria)
  • Recording Arts (e.g., Def Jam Records, XM Radio)

The Georgetown Performing Arts Department Website is rich with additional information on studying American Musical Culture.

GU Performing Arts Department 

Professional Associations are a great place to go to dive deeper into the field of American Musical Culture and learn more about what post grad life might look like. 

Vault is a fantastic resource to learn more about specific career fields in American Musical Culture. Vault has information such as salary information, work environment, education and training requirements, outlooks, and specific tips for entering into the field. 

Professors & Academic Deans
Georgetown professors and faculty members can be a wonderful resource for Georgetown students. If you are still curious to learn more about the disciplines of a specific major, we’d encourage you to connect with your professors! Outside of office hours, Georgetown has an online interface called GU360 where students can explore and connect with faculty members that are eager to mentor and support students. You can use this interface to learn more about specific department research, specialties, and areas of study within a major.  

You can also connect with your academic dean or counselor to further discuss opportunities within a given major. 

Lastly, each department has a dedicated Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). This is the individual in charge of coordinating the major program or department as a whole. You can find the Director of Undergraduate Studies by exploring the faculty and staff pages of individual departments websites.

Connecting with alumni is a fantastic way to explore a day in the life of any given major student. There are several different ways to connect with Georgetown Alums. Hoya Gateway is Georgetown’s premier networking platform which connects alumni and students to have meaningful conversations and build a strong network of support. This is a platform alumni opt into with the sole purpose of supporting current students, which means there is an extremely high response rate. 

You can also utilize LinkedIn to connect with Georgetown Alum. A simple alumni search on Georgetown’s LinkedIn profile will help you get connected to approximately 130 thousand alumni, which you can then filter to meet the location, major, industry, or skills that you are interested in exploring.

You can also check out our Post Graduation Outcomes to learn more about what Georgetown alumni in specific majors are up to after graduation. We survey our seniors at the end of each year and into the following year to learn about jobs they secured, service opportunities they committed to, or graduate schools they decided to attend. You can filter by first major to get an idea of what life after Georgetown looks like. You’ll see in many cases that alums are using majors in a wide variety of ways, and your major doesn’t always equal your career path. 

Career Center Staff
You can also connect with career center staff to talk through the possible outcomes of one major over another. In short, there are endless opportunities no matter what major you choose. However, connecting with someone might help you navigate your decision making process a little bit easier. 

At the career center, you have the opportunity to meet with either a Career Exploration Counselor or an Industry Advisor. Career Exploration Counselors can help you talk through concerns, goals, the big picture, and strategies to move forward. You can think of them as generalists and a great place to get started. Industry Advisors can help you think through specific questions about a given career path and provide specific industry information and trends. You can think of them as specialists for once you start to narrow down your possible path. If you think an appointment with one of these individuals would benefit you, you can make an appointment on Handshake.

  • American Studies
  • Art (studio)
  • Art History
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • English
  • History
  • Justice and Peace Studies
  • Sociology
  • Theater and Performance Studies