• Belgium
    • Ghent
    • Brussels
Academic Year
Subject Areas
American Studies Cultural Studies Graduate Studies History U.S. Studies

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Degree Level
Apartment Host Family


Starting Price
Oct 10, 2018
Sep 17, 2015
3 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

MAAS is a highly selective and competitive, English-taught, one-year master's program in American studies jointly offered by the Belgian universities of Gent, Brussels, Antwerp and Leuven.

MAAS gives students the opportunity to explore American history, culture, and society through the lenses of a vibrant and engaging European academic environment. Its transatlantic vocation, its valuable location in the heart of Europe, its proximity to EU institutions and NATO's headquarter, and its friendly and cooperative atmosphere make MAAS one of the most attractive programs of its kind.

The whole MAAS staff is committed to teaching excellence and strongly believes in the benefits of a continuous exchange of opinions with its students!

We wait for you in the beautiful medieval Flemish city of Ghent and in Brussels, the actual capital of Europe!

Program Reviews

4.60 Rating
based on 5 reviews
  • 5 rating 60%
  • 4 rating 40%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 3.8
  • Support 4.4
  • Fun 4.4
  • Housing 4.6
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Challenging, Refreshing, Rewarding

I just finished my MAAS and I absolutely loved it. Having already done three years of American Studies during my BA, I started this masters interested to know how the professors would handle the fact that most students did not come from an American Studies background. Were they going to explain it all again? Or were they just going to leave the others behind? These initial thoughts were soon swept away by my first lecture. Straightaway I understood that this masters is not about how much you know or don't know; it's about what you want to know. Sure, this masters is no different from any other masters; you're going to have to get stuck in, but how you do it: that's up to you. The professors do a fantastic job at showing you every corner of American Studies; political, cultural, theoretical, etc. By use of a simple VPN connection you have access to all the stuff you need to feed your thirst for knowledge, and believe me, thirsty you will get. Although at times it might seem that the water gets a little deep and the amount of freedom you receive might seem a little overwhelming, with the right attitude this masters can be the most enriching experience of your life. Not only did my (already proportionally large) passion for American Studies grow, so did my passion for learning all together. I can probably go on about this program for hours, but since this website limits me to 200 characters, I'll try and sum up my experience in three words: challenging, refreshing, rewarding.

What would you improve about this program?
For students who like a little more direction in terms of their assignments, this program could be a little overwhelming at times.
77 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

MAAS 2014-15

As a prospective student I sought a better understanding of the United States within a globalized world. I wanted to further establish my factual knowledge of American and world history, and I wanted to engage several disciplines, perspectives, and theories to understand, dissect, and utilize that knowledge. Additionally I sought to develop my writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. The MAAS program effectively facilitated this.

This is not a program centered exclusively on ‘textbook’ knowledge. In MAAS the professors take very seriously the importance of critical discussion over the topics in question. As such, the comprehensive presentation of factual knowledge is continually matched with interrogation into the causes, effects, and implications of the topic. Moreover, the professors encourage the students to question various presumptions that have been taken for granted in the historical or contemporary discourse of the topic. This amounts to lively intellectual consideration in each course and is, indeed, the program’s most important element.

Ultimately, knowledge is reinforced in each course while the particular disciplinary approach of a course affords nuanced understandings. For example, in Literary Journalism the student addresses topics in American and world history through the medium of the genre. Studying John Hersey’s Hiroshima or David Foster Wallace’s piece on 9/11 allowed for intimate and privileged vantage points from which the student could address those events. Likewise, the course on law and justice facilitated inquiry into the fundamental developments and philosophical underpinnings of American society—concepts that would be relevant in each MAAS course. The depth of the MAAS interdisciplinary approach is a quintessential aspect of the program.

Both of these aspects are met with the range of personal, national, and educational backgrounds of the professors and students—adding diverse perspectives to the discussion of material. Indeed, as the material is so often of direct international concern, such perspectives are essential. This internationality (of the program and university itself) was the aspect that I cherished most. Moreover, the special joie de vivre of Ghent, its friendly and open community, and its world-class host of beers make it a phenomenal city for students.

Reflecting on my experience in the program and in Ghent, I certainly feel satisfied and confidently prepared for the law and public service careers that I seek to pursue.

What would you improve about this program?
I think that MAAS should develop stronger ties with the local and at-large community (other academic departments, conferences, journals, organizations, etc.) This could manifest in public debates, panel discussions, film screenings, presidential debate screening (albeit quite early in the morning if streamed live), as well as conference attendance and journal submission. The shared initiative on this development between students and professors would help the student grow as a purpose-driven academic with a greater sense of community, which, in turn, would lead to a more fulfilling MAAS year.
66 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A particular fit, but the right fit if you know what you want

The MAAS program at UGhent is a strong, interdisciplinary American Studies program. The thoroughly international student body and the wide expertise of the staff are the program's strong points. I found the staff supportive and encouraging, even going out of their way to support academic and professional opportunities outside the formal course boundaries. The staff wants to see its students succeed and works hard to create the academic and community space to create that success.

If the student knows what particular issues excite them academically, then the interdisciplinary nature of the program will only round out their original interests. The freedom of the interdisciplinary field is in drawing connections from otherwise separate fields. In this way, a student with clear academic interests can benefit from the freedom of movement the program allows and do academic work otherwise difficult to justify in a program solely dedicated to, say, Politics or History.

What would you improve about this program?
The interdisciplinary nature of the program is both a strength and its primary weakness. The range of courses can only go so deep in a one year course, thus the breadth of the program can be both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. The program had one professor teaching a number of courses this last year (due to administrative difficulties), which weakened the program in a sense. However, even with more professors teaching those courses, an interdisciplinary program can only go so deep. Thus, I would definitely recommend the program to an applicant who appreciates the freedom the program offers and the wide focus of the American Studies field. An applicant looking to study a single subject in-depth should look elsewhere.
68 people found this review helpful.
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Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Wonderful experience; academics not quite Master's level

The M.A. in American Studies, taught at Ghent University in Belgium, has been a wonderful experience for me. I completed the program in 2014. Thanks to the rather strict admission standards, we were a small group of motivated students from many backgrounds, including international students from Vietnam to the US. Fun and camaraderie for an entire year. The academics, however, are not quite what you would expect of a Master of Arts degree. While the courses offer insights into many disciplines, few studies are really explored in depth. Since history, politics, law, and economics were all taught by the same professor, we missed out on the great diversity that could go into so many different courses. The M.A. in American Studies at Ghent Uni. is a great experience for those who have little background in US Studies, but it isn't up to par for those looking for more specialist training and scholarship.

65 people found this review helpful.
Response from Ghent University

Dear student,

We are glad you acknowledged some of the characteristics that make our Master Program very attractive, among which its high quality standards, its international spirit, and its informal atmosphere are perhaps the most relevant. You also pinpointed an element that actually affected our academic offer last year. We are pleased to inform you, however, that we have addressed such an issue in the current academic year, by both broadening and deepening our academic offer. For instance, we included in our program a course dealing with the relationships between the U.S. and the Middle East and we also launched new academic internship programs, in cooperation with several U.S., Belgian, and Dutch institutions, which can replace up to two elective courses. Content-wise, we furthered students' interest through periodic lecture series and through the establishment of a blog in which students can share their opinions and ideas concerning their classes. We are confident that these changes will further improve the academic quality of our Master Program, and therefore we would like to thank you for your useful comments and wish you the best luck with the rest of your life and career.

MAAS Staff

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Much more than a master's degree

Having completed the MAAS-program, I can say that it has been an enriching experience. The cross-sectoral content, the passionate staff, and the small international group of students have gained me much more than solely the academic content of a master's degree. Having obtained this degree, I can honestly make the case that my understanding of not only the United States, but of the world scene as a whole, has deepened considerably.

What would you improve about this program?
In my opinion, there is room to further develop the theoretical framework surrounding the program. The historical, political, and cultural content is thoroughly analyzed, though the linkage of these individual fields to the bigger field of American Studies does not become entirely clear.
71 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers