MA in American studies


Program Description

Because of the global reach of the United States, most Europeans have the impression that they "know" America, which is often perceived as a single culture, with little recognition of the complexity and variety that are characteristic of the nation.

American Studies is a two year MA program that focuses on the world's leading superpower. It looks at culture, politics, economics, literature, and society in a country of more than 300 million inhabitants in fifty distinct states. 

American Studies is an interdisciplinary study that draws on several disciplines that must be included in order to ensure that students can understand and analyze American cultural identities and the changing relationship between the United States and the rest of the world.

Through its cooperation with several departments at the University of Southern Denmark, American Studies offers you the opportunity to shape your study program by choosing electives in the participating programs, including literature, history, politics, and journalism.  In the third semester, you also have the opportunity to go abroad to study in a European or American university through exchange agreements with selected institutions.   

Marcos Luiz Photograph / Unsplash

Program structure

American Studies is a two-year education at the MA level that consists of the following courses:

  • Theory and Method in American Studies (10 ECTS)
  • Themes in American Culture (10 ECTS)
  • Themes in American history and society (10 ECTS)
  • Topics in American Studies, double seminar (2 x 10 ECTS)
  • Elective 1 - 4 (each 10 ECTS)
  • MA Thesis (30 ECTS)

Choose by interest

In addition to the four obligatory courses, there are four electives (three "kursusfag" and one "valgfag.") that students can select in the second and third semesters. These can be chosen from among the range of courses that focus on various aspects of American society that are offered at SDU, not only at the Center for American Studies but many other departments as well. In this way, each student can give a special character to his or her study, depending upon what seems most interesting and what will be useful after graduation.

International options

You can also go abroad to a university in the United States or the EU during the third semester, and take three of the four elective courses there. Alternatively, you can replace the "valgfag" elective through an internship in an institution or a company either abroad or in Denmark.

In the past American Studies students have pursued this option by working for the American Congress, the news division at the Danish national radio network, the Danish Embassy in Washington, a Danish immigration museum in Iowa, and other sites.

MA thesis

You can only complete an MA in American Studies in one way, by writing a thesis, normally in English, that is between 60 and 80 pages in length.

The choice of topic is up to the student, but it is selected in conjunction with an advisor who is willing to supervise the project, and with whom you remain in contact during the research and writing process.

Learning outcomes

You will

  • be able to acquire new knowledge and put it to use in pursuit of new goals
  • be able to survey a wide field of information and extract its essence
  • be able to work across more than one discipline
  • be accustomed to expressing yourself in American English both in writing and orally not merely competently but at an academic level. 
  • be comfortable with reading academic texts in American English
  • be accustomed to working in groups, and be able to learn from and to give constructive criticism
  • be familiar with the research process, and know-how to define a problem and carry out an analysis, base don the relevant material, which necessarily includes being able to offer colleagues useful criticism and suggestions for change.
  • know how to delve deeply into a selected problem or question
  • know how to interpret and critically analyze new information
  • know how to plan and prioritize your work independently

Career opportunities

American Studies MA graduates have found careers in both the public and private sectors, including the following:

  • Foreign embassies
  • Government ministries
  • Television News consultant
  • Translation
  • Consultants in private corporations, including banks
  • Information officers of public organizations and private companies
  • Gymnasium teaching
  • Health administration
  • Research (first as Ph.D. students, eventually as university faculty)
  • Consultant in a private firm, for example in marketing
  • International organizations, and NGOs
  • Public relations, advertising, and branding management

Our graduates have such a variety of job possibilities because they have different BA degrees and because they are able to develop particular areas of expertise through their selection of elective courses, internships, terms abroad, and the topic of their MA thesis. 

Last updated Jul 2020

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About the School

University of Southern Denmark has created an institution of higher research and education which provides first-class educational opportunities and is cooperation partner for both public and private b ... Read More

University of Southern Denmark has created an institution of higher research and education which provides first-class educational opportunities and is cooperation partner for both public and private businesses and organisations for providing qualified labour. Read less
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