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American studies courses

Are you fascinated by American culture? If so, American studies could be for you. This interdisciplinary degree involves the study of American culture, literature, history and politics. Many courses offer the opportunity to spend a semester or even a year at an American university. American studies graduates go into a wide range of jobs, including marketing and PR, the arts and business project management.

Studying american studies at university

Example course modules

  • The American presidency: leadership and power
  • American film studies
  • American literature and social criticism
  • African American
  • Issues in American politics
  • Slavery: history and culture, 1619-1865
  • The contemporary American novel
  • America in the 1960s
  • American modernity
  • Religion and American culture

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 65%
    Male : 35%
  • Mature : 6%
    School leaver : 94%
  • Full-time : 99%
    Part-time : 1%

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • English literature or history

Useful to have

  • Politics

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
Just 620 UK students graduated with American studies degrees in 2012, so it's one of the smaller subjects in terms of student numbers. The recession has been rough on graduates from these degrees and the unemployment rate is currently higher than we'd expect in better economic conditions, but this should get better as the economy improves. Most graduates stay in the UK once they graduate, and about one in five go into further study, mostly to take Masters degrees in subjects like history, journalism, politics and business. Graduates tend to go into any general graduate jobs, in management, education, marketing and PR, the arts and business project management.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Sales, marketing and related associate professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Hospital doctor
  • Public relations officer
  • Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL)
  • Advertising copywriter

Other real-life job examples

  • Events manager
  • Periodical editor
  • Retail manager

What employers like about this subject

Students of American studies will learn subject-specific skills in understanding American culture and history, and the way America interacts and influences the world, along with the skills to understand, analyse and criticise a range of forms of cultural expression including literature, media and film. Transferable skills you can develop include excellent communication, research, critical thinking and project management. American studies graduates find jobs in publishing, education, advertising, retail management, consultancy and government.