What Can I Do with My American Studies Major?
American studies majors take an active, hands-on approach to analyzing the social, historical, material, ideological and aesthetic aspects of American cultures, past and present, from an interdisciplinary perspective. The program integrates knowledge from the fields of history, literature, political science, economics, philosophy, sociology, theology and the fine arts. By studying this major, students will develop key research and analytical skills as they begin to view the United States within larger world systems, taking into account how the cultures of America have been continually reshaped by movements of people, commerce, and ideas in and out of the United States. American Studies majors will graduate Georgetown with a strong core of courses to help them develop new ways of thinking about narratives and ideas that define this country.
The major culminates with a year-long senior project. With guidance from faculty mentors, students develop the deep knowledge to construct insightful critical arguments that can take many forms, from a traditional academic thesis to a multimedia or artistic project. Also, the American Studies program is small and the courses emphasize discussion and hands-on learning, so students develop a strong sense of community. This is enhanced by extracurricular activities, including field trips, social events, and lectures.
American studies coursework leads students to work in law, journalism, teaching, government, museum curation and business, as well as preparing students for advanced study at the masters or doctoral level.
American studies students will develop key research and analytical skills, while also building and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships. American studies challenges its students with a demanding curriculum that prepares graduates for careers in a wide variety of fields. Throughout your experience in the program, you will obtain the following skills:
Critical Thinking Skills
- Careful Record Keeping
- Approaching problems from multiple perspectives
- Avoiding simplistic conclusions
- Perceiving patterns and structures
- Understanding components of complex problems
Effective Communication Skills
- Writing effectively
- Reading critically
- Conveying complex information
- Speaking to groups
- Presenting research findings
- Training others
- Planning projects
- Applying theoretical approaches to research problems
- Establishing hypotheses
- Participant observation of research subjects
- Evaluating evidence
- Examining electronic data
Social and Cultural Relations Skills
- Understanding and appreciating human relationships between groups and individuals
- Identifying cultural/social forces
- Understanding diversity
- Social ease in strange situations
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. _____
- Explored (topic area) by authoring weekly writing exercises in response to texts written by author1, author2, and author3
- Developed integrated understanding of social, historical, material, and aesthetic aspects of American cultures by conducting primary research and analyzing disparate data on (insert topic area here)
- Developed editorial, design, and publication distribution ability through engagement in student-led collaborative writing project that entailed self-publishing research from American Civilization II course and presenting findings to American Studies Dept. students and faculty
Georgetown Alumni have taken their American studies degree across multiple different industries and have applied the skills they learned in American studies across multiple disciplines.
Additional information about these outcomes can be found in Cawley’s Post Graduation Outcome Report
“The American Studies faculty and faculty who support the program by teaching AMST cross-listed courses are incredibly special and dedicated people – I feel and know that I am privileged to have taken classes under their instruction.” – 2020 Georgetown College Graduate, American Studies.
“The interdisciplinary nature of American Studies truly allows you to master many capabilities such as being comfortable with ambiguity, forming and testing a hypothesis, doing deep qualitative research, synthesizing information, and writing in a clear & succinct manner. What I enjoyed the most was being constantly intellectually challenged. I didn’t just learn facts to memorize, but learned new ways to think and approach problems.” -2017 Georgetown College Graduate, American Studies
“My job post-Georgetown required excellent written and verbal communication which my major helped me develop. It also prepared me for a job in the real world by giving me the tools to take a holistic view of a situation prior to recommending a course of action.” – 2017 Georgetown College Graduate, American Studies
“My analytical writing skills improved greatly during my time as an AMST major, which helped me in my legal internships and will certainly help as I begin my career as a paralegal for a government agency.” 2020 Georgetown College Graduate, American Studies and Government
“Majoring in American studies honed my writing and storytelling skills, which came in handy when I interned in creative production and worked with brands to craft compelling narratives that would resonate with my audience at NPR.” – 2020 Georgetown College Graduate, American Studies
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
- Presidential campaigns
- U.S. State Department
- U.S. Congress
- European Union, Delegation of the European Commission
- General Electric, law and policy internship
- Environmental Protection Agency
- American Enterprise Institute
- Arts and Media (e.g., Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, NBC, ABC, CBS)
- Newspapers and Magazines (e.g., student publications, The Washington Post)
The Georgetown American Studies Program Website is rich with additional information on studying American Studies.
Professional Associations are a great place to go to dive deeper into the field of American Studies 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 Studies. 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.