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American Studies

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.

Important information for prospective students starting a BA or MA programme in September 2020

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.

Interested? Listen to our Webinar ' Introduction to American Studies!

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.

Facts & Figures
Degree
BA in American Studies
Course type
Bachelor
Duration
36 months (180 ECTS)
Croho code
50623
Language of instruction
English
Start
September
Faculty
Arts
Studie in Cijfers
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • Think Independently: American Studies at UG is the only program of its kind in the Netherlands. Because we're a freestanding program (not part of the History or English Departments), every course is designed to look at America from multiple angles. Faculty experts in fields like political history, literature and media, religious studies, and Latin American culture will help you to form your own views on America and the world.
  • Connect at University of Groningen: In our small seminars and close-knit intellectual community, you can learn and challenge yourself with the help of classmates, faculty, and our knowledgeable Study Advisor.
  • Connect Abroad: With our network of partner institutions, you can spend a semester working on your BA and experiencing American culture and politics first-hand in a U.S. city like Orlando or Charleston, or at a leading university in Canada or Mexico.
Programme

First year courses build a strong foundation in American culture and history, explore the relationship between the U.S. and the world, and prepare you to tackle college writing.

In Americas I and II, you'll learn how the U.S. became a global superpower, and about the origins of the modern Democratic and Republican parties. Theories of Culture I digs into the theme of identity, giving you new tools for thinking about race, class, and gender. Rhetoric and Composition I helps you perform better in all of your courses by working on your writing and speaking skills in English. In U.S. Political Culture, you'll study the founding texts of American politics, and learn about democracy through hands-on debates about controversial issues. And in North and South Americans, you'll read classic Latin American and Canadian literature and go in-depth on pressing issues like immigration, trade policy, and the War on Drugs.

Periods
CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
Rhetoric and Composition I a/b (10 EC)
The Americas I a/b: The American Century and Beyond (10 EC)
Theories of Culture I a/b: Race, Class and Gender (10 EC)
North & South Americans (10 EC)
The Americas II a/b: New Frontiers (10 EC)
U.S. Political Culture (10 EC)

In the second year, you'll deepen your knowledge of history, politics, and culture, with additional freedom to choose courses that spark your interest.

Theories of Culture II covers classic works of political and media theory that will help you think about problems in new ways. In Americas III, you'll learn about the roots of contemporary concerns, like racial justice and regional diversity, in the encounters and conflicts of the early modern period. Rhetoric and Composition II guides you through writing your first research paper on a topic of your choice. The spring is all about options. If you are into media and popular culture, you can take Media Specialization, which goes in-depth on the way technological changes shape the culture we consume. If you're more curious about economics and policy, check out Global USA. Special Topics courses change every year, exploring topics like 'Canada's Cultural Mosaic', 'Failed Colonies', and 'Seeing Race in America'. Many assignments in these courses go beyond the academic essay: whether you're recording a TED Talk, writing an editorial, designing an exhibit, or helping to develop an app, you'll use your skills in analysis, research, and writing in new ways.

Periods
CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
Rhetoric and Composition II: Constructing an Argument (5 EC)
Theories of Culture: Political Theory (5 EC)
The Americas III a/b: From Exploration to Early Republic (10 EC)
Rhetoric and Composition II: The Research Paper (5 EC)
Theories of Culture II: Media Theory (5 EC)
Global USA: Business, Work, and Wealth (10 EC, optional)
Media Specialization (10 EC, optional)
Special Topics (choose 4 courses of 5 EC each) (20 EC)

The third year consolidates your learning and prepares you for life beyond, whether in the workforce or a Master's program. In the fall, you can study abroad, take on a placement in the Career Minor, or take courses in another department by pursuing a Faculty or University Minor.

Your spring American Studies courses address evolving global challenges, in which the Americas play a central role: why do people migrate? what does it feel like to live between two cultures? how did “consumer” become so central to modern identity? how are globalization, technology, and climate change transforming capitalism? You'll crown your studies with an intensive research project, the BA thesis. Choose the topic of your thesis, and work with peers and professors to write something you can be proud of!

Periods
CoursesCourse Catalog >1234
Minor (30 EC)
Mobility, Migration, Transculturation (10 EC)
Theories of Culture III: Consumer Nation (10 EC)
BA Thesis (10 EC)
Theories of Culture III: Sustainable World (5 EC)

Curriculum

N.B. Second and third year courses might change during the academic year. Please check our website regularly for updates.

Programme options
Minor (minor)

The fifth semester of your studies is dedicated to your Minor: a coherent set of future-oriented course units.

It prepares you for a follow-on Master's degree program or for entering the labour market. You can opt for a Career Minor, a Minor abroad, a University Minor or a Faculty Minor.

More information about this option

University of Groningen Honours College (honours program)

The Honours College will give talented, motivated students the chance to be challenged even more by following Honours programmes and taking part in numerous other activities.

The Honours College comprises a broadening part and a deepening part and has a study load of 45 ECTS credit points besides the 180 ECTS credit points from your regular Bachelor programme.

More information about this option

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is optional
  • For an average of 16 weeks

Study abroad: a minimum of 30 ECTS.

Studying abroad in the United States during the first semester of your third and final year is an asset to the American Studies experience at The University of Groningen. Selected students can enroll in a variety of courses of your choosing at one of our first-rated exchange partner institutions in the U.S.

This is your opportunity to experience first-hand everything you have studied in the classroom, a truly enriching opportunity for students, both academically and personally!

For more information regarding exchange locations, please visit the Department of American Studies website at https://www.rug.nl/let/studeren-bij-ons/american-studies/internationalization/

Entry requirements

Admissible Dutch diploma profiles

  • Natuur & Techniek
  • Natuur & Gezondheid
  • Economie & Maatschappij
  • Cultuur & Maatschappij
  • HBO propedeuse

    Additional requirements English: Minimum requirement of TOEFL iBT 90 (with a minimum of 21 on all items), or IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 on all items). Language Centre English Test (LCET) level C1 (B2 for a maximum of 1 component). Cambridge C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a minimum score of 180

Choice of degree programme check

The degree programme will organize a matching procedure. Attendance is optional. The advice is not binding.

Explanatory notes

If you intend to start with a bachelor degree programme at the University of Groningen in September, make sure to apply before May 1 in Studielink. The degree programme will give you the option to participate in a matching activity to see if you and the degree programme are a match. Which matchings activity they provide depends on the faculty and programme.

Any questions about matching? Check https://www.rug.nl/matching

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202101 September 2021
EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021

Choice of degree programme check

If you intend to start with a bachelor degree programme at the University of Groningen in September, make sure to apply before May 1 in Studielink. The degree programme will give you the option to participate in a matching activity to see if you and the degree programme are a match. Which matchings activity they provide depends on the faculty and programme.

Any questions about matching? Check https://www.rug.nl/matching

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
language test

Minimum requirement of TOEFL iBT 90 (with a minimum of 21 on all items), or IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 on all items). Language Centre English Test (LCET) level C1 (B2 for a maximum of 1 component). Cambridge C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a minimum score of 180. For more information on the LCET, refer to site of the language center: https://www.rug.nl/language-centre/testing-unit/english-lcet/

previous education

Dutch VWO diploma, a German Abitur, an International Baccalaureate diploma, a European Baccalaureate or another diploma that is sufficient for acceptance to a Dutch university. Students with a Dutch 'hbo propedeuse' diploma also need to meet the language requirements mentioned above.

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202101 September 2021
EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202101 September 2021
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2020-2021€ 2143full-time
non-EU/EEA2020-2021€ 9500full-time

The Dutch government is halving tuition fees for first-year students in higher education.

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

Journalism and Media
Use your knowledge of U.S. history, culture, and politics to write for international media outlets, or build new platforms for new audiences.

Business and Banking
Your ability to think, write, and speak confidently in English, coupled with your deep knowledge of U.S. economic, cultural and commercial policies and practices, make you an asset to companies seeking to expand into the Dutch, European, and U.S. markets.

Arts and Culture
Your cross-cultural experiences and English skills can serve you well in roles like organizing cultural programs for a museum, guiding visitors for a travel organization, helping international workers integrate into the Netherlands, or launching your own cultural enterprise.

Government and the Public Sector
Your subject-matter expertise in U.S. socio-political affairs and strong English skills transfer readily to positions in local, national, and international governance. Consider working for an embassy, local or national government office, or NGO.

Communications and Public Relations
American Studies teaches you how to analyze difficult problems and craft a message that will speak to your audience--that’s what the fields of Communication and Public Relations are all about. Our graduates work in communications roles for businesses, governments, and non- profit organizations.

Management Consulting and Human Resources
Put your strong analytical, communication, and writing skills to use helping businesses and organizations assess internal challenges and manage change constructively.

Job examples

  • Editorial staff for TV at EenVandaag
  • Municipality Spokesperson
  • Communications Advisor Digital & Public Diplomacy at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Adviser at European and Regional Affairs
  • Free-lance journalist for BBC
  • Policy Advisor for Art and Culture for local government
  • Creative Director at VidMedia (corporate films) City Council Member
  • Policy Researcher at Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Research

Research Approach and Themes

The research carried out by the Department of American Studies, by and large, mirrors the main concentrations in our educational agenda. At the heart of our research efforts, and hence of our curriculum, are three separate themes:

  • History, cultures, and religions of the Americas
  • U.S. Political Culture
  • U.S. literature, media, and popular culture

Given the nature of American Studies, the key distinguishing feature of our research as well as in our teaching is that it is truly interdisciplinary in approach in which the individual researchers actively work across different disciplines and methodologies as opposed to, for example, research on American topics carried out in the History Department, which would generally reflect historical approaches only.

The same is true for our teaching agenda: individual teachers are required to be versatile in more than one discipline as all major survey courses combine a range of disciplinary areas, approaches, methodologies, and data sets. Aligned with our teaching practices, our research is generally problem-driven as well as theory-driven. That is to say, we explore specific issues that are controversial, contested, or under-investigated, and then seek to resolve these issues through the generalization of our findings, incorporating elements associated with both the structure and the process of the phenomena we study. Among the themes we are currently exploring are:

  • Contemporary migration and mobility issues in the Americas
  • Engaged literature and the politics of reading
  • Narratives of crisis in post-9/11 culture
  • The worldwide effects of white-supremacy on people and environments
  • The role of Catholicism in U.S. settler-colonialism

Research Team and Projects

All members of the American Studies faculty are engaged in cutting-edge independent and collaborative research, and they work as a team to facilitate student research at the BA, MA and PdH level. Please visit the Faculty Roster to view a listing of current American Studies faculty members and their individual research initiatives.

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  • 
						Testimonial of Daniel John O'Neill

    You do not pay for your degree; you are expected to earn it.

    – Daniel John O'Neill
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    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.

    Read more about Daniel and his student life in Groningen.

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						Testimonial of Sean Beech

    Vital skills and competences

    – Sean Beech
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    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.

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  • 
						Testimonial of Meike Robaard

    The program has changed my perspective on the world around me

    – Meike Robaard
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    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.

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  • 
						Testimonial of Daniëlle Feiken

    Plenty of ways to explore your interests

    – Daniëlle Feiken
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    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!

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  • 
						Testimonial of Kelly van Hienen

    Since this studies is interdisciplinary it not only takes on history, but there are also classes on culture, media, and politics

    – Kelly van Hienen
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    About Kelly

    Hi! My name is Kelly van Hienen and I am in my second year of the Bachelor American Studies. Before I started here in Groningen, I studied Art & Economics at the University of Arts in Utrecht. I decided that I wanted to study American Studies when I finished my propedeuse. In my spare time, I am an active member within my study association, I play lacrosse, I listen to music (a lot), and I love to watch series.

    Why American Studies?

    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 so that I could talk about the United States even more without being annoying. Moreover, I wanted to understand the American culture and the debates in and about the country.

    Since this studies is interdisciplinary 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. Due to my studies, I will not only understand the United States on a much deeper level, but I will also learn how to put my findings into well-structured arguments.

    Read more about Kelly van Hienen and why she chose to study American Studies in Groningen!

    Questions? Send Kelly an e-mail!

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Student profile

You want to understand what Black Lives Matter is all about, or how #MAGA became so popular. You want to make a podcast about "Stranger things", or write a convincing editorial about U.S. immigration. You want to work at an embassy, or write for a Netflix show, or pursue a PhD at a top U.S. university. Then American Studies is the perfect program for you! Join our talented and diverse community of students, who follow their own intellectual paths and shape dynamic futures.

(Binding) study advice
  • A minimum of 45 EC in the first 12 months (binding)

You will be offered study advice after first year of study. You can expect a positive result if you have earned more than 45 ECTS credit points (out of a total of 60 ECTS). If you have earned fewer than 45 ECTS and are issued a negative result, you will not be allowed to continue with your degree programme.

You will receive preliminary study advice in December to make sure that you know where you stand. Please contact your study advisor as soon as possible if you have any questions about the BSA system.

N.B. Some degree programmes use a tutoring system; please check with your study advisor.

Study support

If you have any questions about your studies, you may contact the American Studies academic advisor who can assist you with academic planning, university services, and other relevant matters. Students can schedule an appointment via the Office of Student Affairs or stop by during the advisor's weekly consultation hours to discuss a variety of academic issues.

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