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Learn about American studies with online courses and programs

American studies examines American history, literature, and culture, as well as the impact of colonialism and imperialism on the wider world. Explore American identity and life from various perspectives with online courses on edX.

What is American studies?

American studies explores various aspects of American life throughout history, as well as the cultural and societal impacts of historic events. It can provide a systematic and analytical framework for examining the macro and micro experiences of the American people.

Individuals interested in American studies may focus on a particular group, such as Native American Indians, or a time period, such as the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition. Or, they may want to develop a greater understanding for the country as a whole, beginning with its independence from England in 1776.

Pursuing American studies can help you foster greater cultural awareness, gain insights into inequalities, and enhance your critical thinking skills. edX offers a variety of courses for learners interested in an American studies education.

American Studies | Introduction Image Description

American studies course curriculum

American studies is an interdisciplinary field that involves learning about American culture, history, literature, politics, and society. For learners who are just beginning to explore the topic, it can help to take an introductory course that covers foundational subjects such as:

  • American history: Colonization, revolution, expansion, the Civil War and Reconstruction, World Wars I and II, and modern America.

  • American literature: Classic American, modern, and contemporary literature and authors.

  • American politics and government: The Constitution, branches of government, political parties, and current events.

  • Sociology and cultural studies: American popular culture, media, and social stratification.

From there, you can deepen your knowledge with classes that discuss more complex aspects of American studies. You might choose to learn about ethnic or gender studies, media and film, or dive into a specific social group or period in American history.

Pursuing American studies can supplement your knowledge of history and diplomacy. edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore jobs in American studies

With a background in American studies, you can be better prepared for a wide range of career paths. Whether you want to help educate others about the past, or use concepts from your studies to inspire innovative concepts, you can pursue roles like:

  • Museum curator: Uses knowledge of historical artifacts, art history, and cultural context to curate exhibits related to American history, art, or culture.Footnote 1

  • Archivist: Preserves and manages historical documents and records, which may focus on materials related to American history.Footnote 2

  • Public relations (PR) specialist: Develops and maintains a positive public image for clients, which may require knowledge of American cultural nuances and media.Footnote 3

  • Nonprofit manager: Manages nonprofit organizations that may focus on social, cultural, or historic causes in the United States.Footnote 4

  • Digital marketer: Learns about American consumer behavior, social media trends, and digital marketing tools to create content and campaigns targeting American audiences.Footnote 5

Each of these roles will have different education and skills requirements. For example, you may be able to build relevant skills in a digital marketing boot camp. However, some employers may seek candidates with a degree in history or journalism, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.

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