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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 23, 2014
Canadian Excellence

North American Studies

North American Studies at Laurier 

Where do Canadian governments, businesses and nongovernmental organization focus their economic aspirations, political calculations, security considerations and environmental concerns? North America! 

North American Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines “North America” as a distinct historical, cultural, and political economic entity, and views North American borders as cultural and political spaces. 

Program highlights 

  • Innovative and marketable program

Laurier’s North American Studies program is the first of its kind in Ontario!  North America is the primary focus of the economic aspirations and political calculations of Canadian governments, businesses and nongovernmental organizations, and a degree in North American Studies will give students a competitive edge in today’s job market. 

  • Subsidized international opportunities
As a complement to the North American Studies Program, Laurier is an active participant in the NAFTA Mobility Exchange Program, which allows our students to study for one term on campuses in the U.S. and in Mexico. Our program also offers a North American Studies Experience (NASE), through which students can participate in an exchange, study abroad or community outreach program.

  • Active Students Association
North American Studies at Laurier value your involvement.  Students are encouraged to be part of all the Program’s activities, from academic and intellectual events to social events.

  • Language Skills 
Students are encouraged to acquire Spanish, French or Indigenous language skills that are invaluable in many professions.

Courses offered 

First Year Courses

  • Intro to North American Studies
  • Intro to American Studies or Canadian Studies - A Global Perspective

Popular courses

  • Mexico and Social Change, Mexican Revolution and Its Aftermath
  • Canada in the World: From Laurier to the 21st Century

Admission requirements 

Honours BA North American Studies (in combination with another Honours program)

4U Requirements IB Requirements  Admission Requirements 
English at 60%  HL or SL English at 4

Mid 70s

IB Minimum score: 28  


With expertise in North American Studies, students will have a competitive edge in today’s job market. With an Honours BA North American Studies, you will have an in-depth knowledge of North America – including the three countries of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, the relations among them, as well as how North America situates itself within the global community. 

Imagine how useful it would be to bring such knowledge with you into private business, government and nongovernmental organizations, journalism or the legal profession.

Student experience 

000_Geil_headshot.jpgMeredith Giel’s passion and interest in Mexican culture led her to the North American Studies program at Laurier. Originally enrolled as a Global Studies major, Giel found herself particularly engaged in her North American studies courses and decided to add this area of study as a second major. “My combined degree allows me to learn much more about Mexican culture,” Giel says, “as well as how it integrates and functions with the United States and Canada.”

To fulfill the program’s language requirement, Giel studied Spanish. “Taking Spanish in first year opened a lot of doors for me,” she says. Her language skills made her eligible to study in Veracruz, Mexico as part of the NAFTA Mobility Exchange program. “I was fully immersed in a culture where very few people spoke English,” she reflects. “This was a unique and life-changing experience that truly helped me to broaden my knowledge of North America.”

After graduation, Giel plans to study towards a master’s degree in International Public Policy. After that, she hopes to pursue a career in international policy development and implementation, specifically in relation to public policy in North America.

Faculty experience 

000_VanNijnatten_headshot.jpgDr. Debora Van Nijnatten’s research focuses on environmental policy in North America, particularly the cooperation between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico at the sub-national level (provincial and state), and how they address shared environmental problems. 

“It is at this level of government – contrary to what many people might think – where the exciting things are happening, even with respect to global problems like climate change and energy policy,” she says.

Van Nijnatten believes that participating in an exchange program and learning a new language are key to providing students with a unique perspective on learning, and North American Studies offers the opportunity to do both. Van Nijnatten herself is currently studying Spanish. 

With Canadian governments, businesses and non-profits focusing their energies on North America, she says the time is ripe for students to have a better understanding of their immediate environment. “Canadian federal government officials are very interested in what we’re doing,” she says. “The program is well suited to the current and future context of education and employment in Canada.”