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If you’re interested in history, fascinated with race relations, and excited by the prospect of advocating for equal rights, a bachelor of science in ethnic studies may be right for you. In an ethnic studies program, students study ethnicity from a variety of perspectives—historical, cultural, and sociological, as well as through art and literature. Graduates find work as civil rights lawyers and rights advocates.
What is a Degree in Ethnic Studies?
How have race and racism impacted society—both in the past and the present? What impacts do cultural and physical differences have on the way people interrelate and perceive each other? If you’re curious to investigate the answers to these questions, you can do so in an ethnic studies program. Ethnic studies is an interdisciplinary program that investigates ethnic differences from a variety of perspectives, focusing on the topic through study of art, literature, history, culture, sociology, ethics, and science.
Students in ethnic studies programs generally choose an area of focus that concentrates study on a specific ethnic group. Students may focus their studies on Native American, Asian, Latin American, or African American ethnicities, among others. They’ll study important historical events, explore differences in cultures and beliefs, and seek to understand how racial identity and racism has impacted—and impacts—societal beliefs and behaviors. Graduates commonly use their knowledge to work as effective civil rights and immigration lawyers, or as advocates in nonprofit organizations.
What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Ethnic Studies?
- American Racial Minorities
- Multicultural and Ethnic Studies
- Applied Cultural Research
- Cultural Pluralism
- Civil Rights in the U.S.
- Rural Studies
- Social Justice in Ethnicity and Gender
- Urban Minority Problems
What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Ethnic Studies?
A degree in ethnic studies doesn’t lead to a specific career. Instead, it leads to a variety of possible careers, increasing the likelihood that graduates will find work after graduation. An ethnic studies program teaches students how to think critically, respect divergent beliefs and behaviors, and communicate effectively, making them successful in any number of roles in a business environment. Additionally, with graduate degrees, they can find work in legal and education positions.
How Long does it take?
A bachelors in Ethnic Studies will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at OnlineDegree.com that could transfer to universities in the US.
Online Ethnic Studies Degree
Ethnic studies are not popular choice for undergraduate students and the number of the programs offered in this field is decreasing since the civil rights movement. However, it is still offered by several universities in the United States and you can find some of these programs available completely online. The program usually includes around 120 credit hours and is more affordable compared to other university programs.
What Can You Do With an Ethnic Studies Degree?
Ethnic studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on the differences between people based on ethnicity, race, nation, sexuality and gender, and how these differences are reflected on the country, society and individuals. It is commonly viewed as the opposite to international studies which focuses on the relations and common aspects between people around the world. This academic discipline was developed in the United States in response to the lack of information and history related to minority ethnicity. Ethnic studies integrate knowledge from anthropology, history, literature, sociology, political science and cultural studies. The development of this academic field was directly related to the civil rights movement as a trial to correct the stories, histories, struggles and triumphs of minority people using their own terms.
What does an ethnic studies student learn?
Ethnic studies aim at providing comprehensive knowledge of the differences between people including the origin of these differences and their effects on people’s life. The program usually focuses on the components forming the US society. The following list shows the courses commonly offered in ethnic studies degree programs:
- Introduction to the American ethnic societies: this is a fundamental course that introduces the main principles of ethnics in the United States including the main ethnic groups in the country and how they originated.
- African American perspectives: the course presents an overall view of the culture and history of African American people.
- American Indian perspectives: the course presents the history of the Native American Indian civilization that was present in the country before the beginning of the modern Western Civilization.
- Latino perspectives: this course introduces the minorities in the United States coming from Latin American. They are also commonly called Hispanic which refers to the Spanish talking communities. The Latino population is currently more than 50 million which represents more than 16% of the total population.
- Asian American perspectives: the Asian American community has grown to around 6.5% of the US population which includes people coming from China, Philippines, India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
- Comparative ethnic studies: the course helps the students understand the historical forces and social dynamics causing racism and racial inequity. The course follows a comparative model between different ethnic groups.
- Transformative thought: the course introduces concepts and theories related to race, ethnicity, gender, class, indignity, citizenship, and sexuality
Now I have the ethnic studies degree…where can I work after graduating?
Ethnic studies are not focused on specific careers but it is rather more related to providing the knowledge related to the field. The degree would still be beneficial in jobs related to minorities including civil work. The following list shows career options available for ethnic studies graduates:
- Policy analyst: the role of this job is to analyze the effect of current and proposed policies focusing mainly on maintaining the rights of ethnic minorities.
- Marketing manager: the degree may also be useful to people who are responsible for marketing in companies that work with various ethnic groups. Understanding the history and culture of these sub-communities can represent a great advantage.
- Museum curator: the responsibility of this job is to build up collections and exhibitions in a museum or art gallery which is usually focused on a specific topic. Curators also work on interpretation of the art works using publications, events and audio-video presentations.
- College and university professor: you may choose to continue working in the academic field and help students get their degree. You will also be responsible to lead the research related to minority ethnics.
- Other related jobs: administrative analysts, city planner, claims adjuster, community organization worker, financial resources or financial aid director.
Should I choose an ethnic studies degree?
If you are trying to find a job with high salary and build a career then probably ethnic studies is not the appropriate choice. If you have the passion towards the equality between people, social and cultural diversity, and civil rights then ethnic studies should be among your choices. The study will also help you develop a number of important skills that are useful for your life:
- Communication skills: ethnic studies will help you understand more about minority communities and accordingly communicate with them in more efficient way.
- Critical thinking: studying the origin of the current communities and how events shaped the society as a whole is a good training for critical thinking.
- Comparative data analysis
Best Jobs for Ethnic Studies Degrees
The advantage of a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies is its flexibility. Graduates can find work as advocates for nonprofit organizations or in human resource departments and discrimination educator roles. With graduate degrees, ethnic studies majors may also enjoy careers as civil rights lawyers, immigration lawyers, or African American studies professors. Some also assist minority groups by working for government support agencies.
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