How did Donald Trump become president of the United States? How did Nike sneakers become associated with "Black Lives Matter"? How did gun ownership become a central question of American politics? What do people really mean when they say gender is "performative"?
In American Studies, you’ll learn in depth about the popular culture, politics, history, literature, economics, race relations, and religions of the United States. And you’ll study the connections between the Americas and the wider world. American Studies is not only 'American' - its international scope and inter-American perspective prepare you to lead in the global future.
Our entire program is taught in English by top-notch international faculty who will help you get acquainted with a range of academic disciplines. With America as your case study, you’ll develop essential skills in writing, speaking, and research-skills that you can apply far beyond the analysis of U.S. culture and politics.
The United States was once considered “the land of the future” -today, it’s the oldest continuously- existing democracy. An American Studies degree will help you understand the high stakes of the debates that animate global political and social movements today, so you can be an informed citizen of your country and the world.
Hi! My name is Eline Santema, I am twenty years old and currently in my third and last year of the Bachelor American Studies. I was born and raised in the beautiful province of Friesland and commute to Groningen for my classes. I love to sing, go out to get coffee with friends and I am trying to write a romance novel in my free time. My favorite movie is - of course - Legally Blonde.
I chose American Studies because of its diverse and interdisciplinary program. I love the fact that you are not just studying history, politics, economics or sociology, but all of these at the same time! During high school, I always thought the United States was an interesting nation, but I never had a “special” interest in it. This completely changed when I started studying American Studies. The United States is such a diverse and fascinating country, in both positive and negative ways. It often shows more extreme forms of social problems we encounter here in Europe, which is why this study is more relevant to non-Americans than you might think. You also get to study Latin America and Canada, which is a great bonus!
Read more about Eline and why she chose to study American Studies in Groningen!
Hi! My name is Chloë. By the time you can find this little piece on the student ambassadors page I am twenty-two years old and a second-year BA American Studies student. I grew up in Germany and the Netherlands, and I am currently living in Groningen. Next to my studies I spend time in the Crossfit gym, I go for walks and runs, and I have an additional job. I also love to read books and watch movies/tv shows, and live life to the fullest with my best friends and family.
Before applying for American Studies at the UG, I attempted studying International Studies in The Hague and European Law in Maastricht. However, neither were the perfect fit and so I dropped out. I knew I wanted to study something with a certain international aspect, since international communities, politics, economics, history, cultures, etc. really interest me. The BA American Studies consists of this aspect and all these territories, and combined with the fact that program is really small (everyone knows everyone, teachers included, and you'll easily become friends with your fellow students), yet very highly regarded, made me apply. Students develop academic/research skills to an incredible extent, which is of course super handy for your future career. Besides, we have a very active study association (EPU) that organizes a ton of great events. In addition, joining (one of) their commissions provides you with amazing experiences and memories.
Hi! My name is Kelly van Hienen and I am in my third year of the Bachelor American Studies. I tried out a few different studies before I found my way to American Studies and, to this day, I am happy that I made the decision to go to the RUG as I feel very content here; both in the program and in Groningen. Next to my studies, I play lacrosse and I am also in the board of the association, I listen to music (a lot) and I love to watch series.
Ever since I was a kid, everything about the United States amazed me. I could not stop talking about the events happening there, which annoyed my mom a lot. The reason I chose American Studies was because I have many interests that usually do not match up in one study program. However, American Studies is interdisciplinary as it not only takes on history, but there are also classes on culture, media and politics. All this knowledge is used simultaneously when we have to write essays, which you will also learn how to do in the academic writing class. Just to give some examples, I wrote an essay on race in U.S. women's lacrosse and I wrote one on disability representation in an American TV show.
The convincing factor for me was getting the chance to pursue so many of my interests in this program and being able to talk a lot about the United States.
One of my favorite aspects of American Studies is the flexibility of the program. You can adapt the studies to your interests by choosing research subjects and elective courses. Whether you want to write about Beyoncé’s Black Panthers homage at the Super Bowl for the “Art of Protest” course, or finish your elective course on the Constitution with a case study on Guantanamo Bay, it’s all possible! Additionally, American Studies offers a great exchange program, which allows me to study at the University of Central Florida next year.
There are also plenty of ways outside of the studies to explore your interests. For example, I am the chairwoman of the Academic Committee of our study association EPU. Together with three other students, I organize lectures, conferences, and career events. I also get to explore my interest in public speaking by giving presentations about my studies at high schools and Open Days of the university. These are all great ways to strengthen your skills, expand your social life, and make your student experience an unforgettable one!
What brought me to Groningen was both its atmosphere, which immediately made me feel at home, and the interdisciplinary program that American Studies offers. The program allows me to combine many of my interests, such as art, sociology, history and cultural theory. The courses challenge me to ask questions, be critical, and to think creatively. Through discussions with fellow students and instructors, lectures and readings, American Studies in many ways has changed my perspective on the world around me. Additionally to American Studies, I got the opportunity to start the Honours Program in Philosophy, which I think will be a great addition. Studying American Studies has both deepened my understanding of phenomena, as well as broadened my horizon.
The choice to study in Groningen was not easy, but it was a decision that has changed my life and moulded me into an ambitious, active, and adaptable student. I wanted to experience something very different to what many of my peers would experience. I have developed into a more independent student and grown very mature at a young age through my time in Groningen.
Academic and personal supports for international students at the University of Groningen have only developed and improved since I first arrived in 2012. From the International Student Office to monthly faculty borrels (a term you will become familiar with and happy to hear after hard day’s work) to the endlessly friendly and approachable staff members, your exciting new educational journey will be made more manageable and enjoyable throughout your time as a student.
However, you are still expected to be independent and innovative. By paying considerably less tuition fees than the average university student in the United Kingdom, you will sometimes feel the pressures to give more of yourself in your studies, and you will soon realise why the University of Groningen remains one of the top universities in the world: do not let the relatively low grade admission requirements fool you. The dropout or failure rate in my course, for instance, is high. You do not pay for your degree; you are expected to earn it. In the long-term, however, this is hugely beneficial, and something that employers will greatly appreciate.
After my graduation I decided to move back home to the UK and seek employment. Within a month of returning I was employed with the local government in Manchester as part of a large team responsible for managing west Manchester’s social housing stock. In my role I manage a team of 8 customer facing staff who offer advice and support on effectively managing their tenancies and providing advice on housing options. The transferable skills and generic competences I acquired during my studies have proven to be vital in making my career a success. For instance, writing effective reports, analysing data, and considering different perspectives have been a crucial part of my role. In the future I hope to complete a Master’s program at the University of Manchester and further develop my career in Britain’s social housing sector.