Universiteit Leiden

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North American Studies (MA)

Career prospects

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

Annabel van Waes

Graduated in North American Studies

Annabel van Waes

"In November 2017, I began working as a trainee information manager at Ypublic. After completing my Master’s in North American Studies I thought it was time for the next step, so I started applying for jobs. Since I also have a master’s in Public Administration, I was looking for a job in the public sector. My search quickly led me to the information manager traineeship at Ypublic."

"This traineeship takes slightly longer than a year and combines working for clients and specialised training in Information Management as well as some other courses. At my current employer, the City of Leiden, I’m part of the Quality and Information Management team and I shadow the Information Manager for the Public Affairs, Enforcement & Safety Cluster (Cluster Publiekszaken, Handhaving & Veiligheid, PHV). As information manager, my job is to develop and support the municipality’s information services, in this case specifically for the PHV cluster. The Leiden region is also working on intensifying regional collaboration in the field of information services."

"In other words, lots to do! This traineeship is challenging, which also makes it great fun. I get a chance to gain some work experience and learn more about information management. The analytical skills I learnt during my studies are very useful in this field. Every day I’m challenged to see the bigger picture and establish links between things. As an information manager I also try to uncover the ‘question behind the question’. To do so I also use many of the skills I developed in my studies. The most important thing is that I enjoy going to work and that it gives me energy. This has made my work experience so far very positive!"

Alexcia Cleveland

Graduated in MA North American Studies

Alexcia Cleveland

"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."

Inge Oosterhoff

Graduated in MA North American Studies

Inge Oosterhoff

"After graduating from Leiden University with an MA North American Studies, I began working as a freelance writer and researcher. I wanted to take my interest in American culture and people and apply it in more diverse and creative ways than solely in academic research. As such, my career is not very straight-lined, but miscellaneous and unpredictable."

Use the knowledge and insights from my MA on a daily basis

"I have worked on journalistic articles, literary projects and am currently working on a documentary in New York. American culture and society remain a common thread in my work, which means I get to use the knowledge and insights from my MA (and BA) program on a daily basis. The work I do now challenges me to always approach that knowledge from a different angle and to keep expanding it, which I personally find very rewarding."

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.

Teacher qualification

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

Career preparation

Find out how this programme exactly prepares you for your future career and check our career preparation activities.

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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