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Obviously, we want some sort of basic interest in the subject. We want some extreme competency that's been demonstrated at the undergraduate level, maybe a masters level, and MRes level.
What we're looking for are students who can demonstrate that they've mastered, to some extent, the literature in the area, or the subarea of American studies that they want to work so that they should come to us with at least prima facie case, that they've found a niche. We're interested in people who have a project that they think will, however incrementally, advance the field somewhat.
That can be honed, nuanced, and you can't expect students [?] level to walk through the door having already completely mastered a literature that takes people years and years and years to master. We want some spark of innovation about the proposals, as well as the baseline of people who are bright, who are diligent, and who have an enthusiasm for the subject.
Obviously, there's a range of careers that people can move on into. Some people want to be academics. That's the career path they desire is to end up teaching in a university or college setting and continuing their research endeavors.
But of course those research skills are incredibly transferable. People who take American studies, often go into forms of journalism. Some go into certain kinds of curating public archives, and some kind of teaching below university level.
The empirical knowledge that you get out of the degree process, coupled with writing skills, and verbal presentation, that you acquire on route, I think, are usable in various settings.
Of course, above all, you're trained to do research. If you come to do some form of American history, American literature, American politics, or American film, the specifics of what you learned is American themed. The techniques you learn are imminently transferable to any kind of research setting.
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