In this thesis we present studies in the AdS/CFT correspondence that intend to push the present knowledge beyond the N = 4 super Yang-Mills (SYM) paradigm. The first part is concerned with the study of non-supersymmetric deformations of N = 4 SYM (which still are in the N = 4 universality class). For non-supersymmetric CFT's at Large N we explore the correspondence between string theory tachyons in the bulk and instabilities on the boundary effective action. The operators dual to AdS tachyons have anomalous dimensions that are purely complex numbers. We give a prescription for calculating the mass of the tachyon from the field theory side. Moreover, we apply this general dictionary to the case of intersecting D7 Flavor branes in AdS_5 S^5 and obtain the mass of the open string tachyon that is dual to the instability in the mesonic sector of the theory. In the second part we present work aiming at finding string theory duals for gauge theories beyond the N = 4 universality class, i.e.theories that have genuinely less supersymmetry and unquenched flavor. Arguably the next simplest example after N = 4 SYM is N = 2 S U (Nc ) SYM coupled to Nf = 2Nc fundamental hypermultiplets. The theory admits a Veneziano expansion of large Nc and large Nf, with Nf /Nc and lambda= g^2 Nc kept fixed. The topological structure of large N diagrams invites a general conjecture: the flavor-singlet sector of a gauge theory in the Veneziano limit is dual to a closed string theory. We present the one-loop Hamiltonian for the scalar sector of N = 2 superconformal QCD and study the integrability of the theory. Furthermore, we explore the chiral spectrum of the protected operators of the theory using the one-loop anomalous dimensions and, additionally, by studying the index of the theory. We finally search for possible AdS dual trying to match the chiral spectrum. We conclude that the string dual is a sub-critical background containing both an AdS_5 and an S^1 factor.