Universiteit Leiden

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North American Studies (MA)

Why Leiden University

Leiden University offers ambitious students the freedom to develop their own area of expertise.

International Centre of Expertise

Leiden University is one of Europe's top research universities and an international centre of expertise for research in American Studies.

Students have access to the unique and outstanding resources of Leiden University, including its world-famous library, but also special digital archives in the field of American Studies that are not available at other Dutch universities, nor indeed at most other universities in Europe. Moreover,  students have access to the unique collections of the Roosevelt Institute of American Studies in Middelburg, for example on the life and work of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. foreign relations, migration, and Civil Rights.

Endowed Chair in American History and Culture

Since 2005, the North American Studies programme at Leiden has a prestigious endowed chair in the History and Culture of the United States and the Americas. The first holder of the chair, Professor Adam Fairclough, is an eminent historian and one of the leading experts in the history of the civil rights movement and the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War. After Fairclough’s retirement in 2016, Dr. Damian Pargas has been appointed as his successor. Professor Pargas is an internationally acclaimed social historian specialised in the history of slavery in the U.S. South, a topic on which he has authored two books and numerous articles. He is the recipient of a prestigious VIDI grant for the research project “Beacons of Freedom: Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860,” on which he is currently working with three Ph.D. candidates.

Broad curriculum and an individual approach

At Leiden University, students can choose subjects from a broad but coherent curriculum, including specialised subjects not available elsewhere. All classes are taught by experienced teachers. Relatively small classes and a number of social events throughout the year give you valuable time interacting with your teachers, who are all established or even leading scholars in their fields. The general atmosphere in the department was rated 4,7 (out of 5 maximum) in the most recent National Student Survey (2018).

Flexibility to construct your own programme

Our master's programme in North American Studies gives you considerable freedom to tailor your degree to reflect your interests. The curriculum is multidisciplinary, with the opportunity to do interdisciplinary research. You also have the option of doing an internship, for example at the Roosevelt Institute of American Studies in Middelburg. There are also opportunities for spending a semester at a university in the U.S. or Canada.

An excellent start to your career

Your master’s degree from Leiden University is respected by organisations and universities worldwide. But that's not the only advantage of studying at Leiden. We challenge you to think independently, research and analyse rigorously, and devise new and creative solutions. Our students learn how to become critical thinkers – a quality that will ensure they stand out in any career they choose. Internships can enhance your job prospects: in the past five years, our students have successfully completed (or are currently doing) internships at e.g., the Dutch Embassy in Washington, the Dutch Consulate in New York, the NOS Bureau in Washington and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. There are also opportunities for studying a semester at a university in the U.S. or Canada.

Find out more about the career prospects

Diversity and inclusion

We are convinced that our education can only flourish if everyone within the programme feels supported, respected and empowered to do their best work. We find it important to offer a learning environment that allows for different perspectives and points of view that students bring with them, depending on their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, health, religion, age or socio-economic background. Every new generation sees the world from a new perspective – and our students are the newest generation. We look forward to hearing more about your perspective. Leiden University has been pursuing diversity policy since 2014, with the aim of creating a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment for all staff and students.

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