North American Studies (MA)
Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University
What our graduates do
The master’s programme in North American Studies prepares you for a wide range of careers in which well-developed analytical and other academic skills or specialised knowledge of U.S. history, literature, politics, and culture are valued. Our graduates pursue careers in the international job market in fields including teaching, journalism, IT, business, politics, government policy, publishing and research.
Positions held by Leiden North American Studies graduates since 2014 include:
- History teacher at a high school
- English teacher at a high school or a university
- PhD candidate in American history, University of Edinburgh
- Project Coordinator Funding & Events at TU Delft
- Junior Policy Officer Ministry of Foreign affairs, Brussels
- Policy Officer/Researcher at Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate
- Trainee Information Manager, Ypublic
- Vice President for Client Services, Early American history and interactive programming, ARtGlass, Richmond, VA
- Collections Manager and Curator, John Ruskin Home Brantwood, Cumbria, UK
- Freelance researcher and writer with De Correspondent
- Community manager/Coordinator Jonge Atlantici, Atlantische Commissie
- Analytical consultant at educational consultancy firm The Next School
- Financial Economic Crime Analyst at Partner in Compliance
- Coordinator of Studies, Leiden University
- PhD candidate, Sciences Po, Paris
- Ph.D. candidate, Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Middelburg
- Journalist/editor, university magazine Resource, Wageningen University
- Communication advisor, city of Almere
- Data manager/Research Project manager, Free University Amsterdam
- PhD candidate (full scholarship), University of Oslo, Norway
- Junior lecturer University of Humanistics, Utrecht
- Graduate school intake officer TU Delft
- Program Coordinator and Admissions Officer at Nyenrode Business University, Amsterdam
- Data manager/coordinator longitudinal research project Erasmus University
- Program Assistant, Fulbright Center, Amsterdam
- Trainee Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten
- Junior Policy Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hague
- Trainee Policy Officer Education with Leiden, Delft and Erasmus University Consortium
- Policy Officer, Strategy and Research, City of Leiden
- Project assistant Province of Zuid-Holland
- Information Manager, City of Leiden
- Information manager and press liaison, Regional Fire Department Hollands Midden
- Office Manager, Cultural Heritage Partners, Richmond, VA
- Knowledge and Content Development Specialist, Johnson & Johnson, Prague, Czech Republic
- Journalist, Wageningen University Magazine Resource
- Editor, MSN.NL based in Lille, France Senior Media Reporter, Zoom Media
- Editorial Assistant and Writer at BusinessBecause in London
- Social researcher for a community engagement consultancy firm in Sydney, Australia
- Office manager, HPE Growth Capital, Amsterdam
- Junior Marketer, GameHouse, Utrecht
- Customer Success Manager, Studyflow, Amsterdam
- Systems Analyst, Nature Research Publishing, London
Graduated in MA North American Studies
"I am currently getting a PhD at the Department of English at TTU in Lubbock, Texas. My research focus is nature writing of the American Southwest. The work consists mostly of completing coursework, teaching undergrads, and doing my own research. The hours are long but the work is fun."
What I learned in Leiden
The American university system differs a lot from the Dutch one, both in intensity and focus. A few things that I learned at Leiden and apply here in Texas are the ability to hone in on research gaps, argue relevance, and how to navigate academic environments.
First Minor, then Master
I did my BA in History at Leiden University, but completed the minor of American Studies, choosing the literature track. This interested me much more than history, and lead me to choose the MA North American Studies, through which I completed the switch to the literary research I do now. The small-scale environment of the MA, as well as the familiarity of the professors made the choice easy.
Alumnus of the MA North American Studies
I chose this specific master's programme because it has always amazed me how much influence the United States has on the rest of the world in terms of: politics, economics, military, but also ordinary things such as music or Halloween. This lead me to wanting to understand the country better. The curriculum looked really appealing to me: it included all the issues I was interested in, from slavery to migration to international power relations. I also knew, because I had already completed the Minor, that the professors were great and that the overall atmosphere was not too formal and quite relaxed. I'm happy I chose this master's programme. It was such a fascinating year, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!
Gain insight on complex issues
After my master I became an educational consultant at a consulting firm in Rotterdam that helps not only institutions like universities and universities of applied sciences, but also advises parts of the government such as the municipality of Rotterdam and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. We attempt to help gain insight on complex issues such as the teacher shortage or student dropout rates. To do this, I create analyses, make presentations, and discuss things with executives, teachers or students.
Using my skills
Even though my current position is not a direct match with my master's degree, I still use many of the skills I learned there on a daily basis. During my master's I became much better at critical thinking and analysing subjects from several different angles. This now comes in handy when I need to think about educational issues. Also, being able to research quickly, skim through and then summarising texts is very useful for my job. For example, a colleague remarked that I could write really well-written concise emails, and I'm sure that's because of all the essays I had to write during my master's.
Graduated in MA North American Studies
"I am currently the office manager of a cultural heritage law firm in Richmond, Virginia, where I am originally from. Beyond being a law firm, the company also runs a museum technology company, a leadership academy, a consulting agency, and a lobbying group so my day-to-day tasks tend to be fairly diverse. Without a doubt, the refinement of foundational skills, such as speaking and researching, were my greatest takeaways from my studies at Leiden."
Skills my program taught me
"I am often tasked with researching subjects and people I know nothing about, so I am glad that my program taught me how to efficiently find and examine reliable sources. As for speaking skills, on any given day I could be running augmented reality demonstrations or speaking to important clients, so I am grateful to feel comfortable in my speaking ability."
Understanding America as a whole
"With its interdisciplinary approach to history, culture, literature, and the modern day, Leiden’s programme in North American Studies does an excellent job of weaving together the many aspects necessary to understand America as a whole. Beyond the academics, because I was studying my own country I figured it would be best to study abroad and hear how others viewed America. Not only is there a diverse faculty in Leiden, but the students themselves come from all over the place with each one possessing unique insights. This has allowed for many spirited discussions both inside and outside of the classroom and I could hardly ask for brighter, kinder, more passionate people to learn with."
A Leiden University degree
Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.
If you are interested in a career in teaching, you can apply for the Dutch-taught teacher-training MA at the ICLON Graduate School of Education after graduating from the master’s programme. To be admitted to the teacher training in History after this master’s, you also need to have a bachelor’s degree in History or a closely related programme. For the teacher training in English, the entry requirements include a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture or a closely related programme. You have to speak fluent Dutch to follow the course, and there are some additional entry requirements.
The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA in North American Studies 2016-2020.
In which sector do students find jobs?
- 17 % Culture, sports and recreation
- 17 % Government and semi-government
- 17 % Research
- 8 % IT
- 8 % Media and journalism
- 8 % Education
- 8 % Publishing
- 8 % Financial institutions
- 8 % Wholesale and retail
- 1 % Other
How successful are they in finding a job?
- 83 % found a job within two months
- 83 % found their first job at academic level
The development of in-depth knowledge in the field, and the ability to think independently, critically, and analytically are key goals of this programme. The North American Studies programme will introduce you to the concepts, academic approaches and scholarly debates current in American Studies.
You will learn about these concepts and approaches in ‘Major Issues in American History and Culture’ and apply them in your other courses as well as in researching and analyzing primary and secondary sources. Your thesis work will give you the opportunity to apply these methods to a specific topic and engage with existing scholarly debates in your own research.
As all courses are offered in English and students are trained in speaking and writing in academic English, our alumni have a high standard of English proficiency.
Many of our students choose to do an internship during their study. Internships are a great way to gain invaluable first-hand experience in your area of interest before you decide on making it a career. Students in North American Studies have successfully completed internships at, for example:
- the Dutch Consulate in New York;
- the Dutch Embassies in Washington and Thailand;
- The Belgian Embassy in Washington
- the NOS Bureau in Washington
- Springer Academic Publishing in India
- Voice of Witness, oral history project, San Francisco
- National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington
- Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden;
- Roosevelt Institute of American Studies in Middelburg
- Elsevier Magazine
- GameHouse in Utrecht
- Aids Fund in Amsterdam
- Research project ‘Traces of the Slavery Past’, KITLV, Leiden
- Communication department, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, The Hague
- Dutch Royal Airforce Military School, Woensdrecht
Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.
The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities.
The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.
Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!
Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network
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