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2021 Area Studies Degree Guide

Would you like a major that you can tailor to your own interests? Majoring in area, ethnic, cultural, gender or group studies truly gives you the freedom to study what specifically interests you. In this major you can focus on history, society, politics, culture, and economics on the topic of your choice. You will critique and explore different societal norms such as ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and social inequalities. Curriculum usually includes discussion and reflection on materials and hands-on activities. Depending on your focus, you may be interested in national or international government and policies.

The courses you will take include broad liberal arts based classes as well as specific and focused classes in your area of study. Your course load may include politics, international relations, literature of the subgroup, music/art/culture of the subgroup, religion, language, and history.

There are many different concentrations in this major. Students have a wide choice of specializations depending on their area of interest. That could be anything from the United States, Africa, Russia, China, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African-Americans, Women, Folklore, Urban Studies or Disability Studies just to name a few.

Area Studies Degrees Remain Stable

#106 Most Popular Major
7.2k Degrees Awarded
0.1% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, area studies was the 106th most popular major nationwide with 7,160 degrees awarded. This is approximately the same as the 7,156 graduates the prior year.

There are 363 schools offering degrees in area studies in the United States. This year's Best Colleges for Area Studies ranking compares 47 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of area studies programs later in this article.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Area Studies

As a liberal arts major it is helpful to be a strong reader and a critical thinker. Students will also find it necessary to be able to think analytically and have good interpersonal skills. Communication is huge for an area studies major, as you will be completing many different research and writing assignments. Students should be passionate about their subject and possess cultural tolerance and a global awareness. It is also important to have an open mind and to be ready to see another person's point of view. This is a good major for someone who is excited to learn and interested in seeing the world through other another person's perspective.

Area Studies Degree Program Entry Requirements

area studies degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Specific area studies careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Area Studies Degree Types

There are various different levels of area studies degrees. Area Studies programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest area studies degree you can get. The time it takes to complete a area studies degree varies depending on the program.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A doctor's degree (research / scholarship) is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to area studies, with approximately 60.5% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for area studies workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Doctoral Degree 61.6%
Master’s Degree 31.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 4.0%
Post-Master’s Certificate 3.3%
First Professional Degree 1.1%

64.5% of area studies workers have at least a research/scholarship based doctorate. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in area studies careers have.


This of course varies depending on which area studies career you choose.

Career Opportunities for Area Studies Majors

Low Number of Jobs
$33.7k Average Starting Salary
10% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

As an area studies major, you will be prepared for many different careers. By the time you graduate, you will possess skills that will allow you to effectively communicate with others, opening the doors for endless job possibilities. You may also choose to continue your education with a Master's Degree.

As ethnic, cultural and gender studies majors are found in a variety of careers, your earnings potential and likelihood of finding a job will vary.

Solid Growth Projected for Area Studies Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your area studies degree? Area Studies careers are expected to grow 10.4% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to area studies.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors 12,700 10.4%

How Much Money Do People With a Area Studies Degree Make?

Recently graduated area studies students earned an average of $33,734 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $16,700 to as high as $55,900. As you might expect, salaries for area studies graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Area Studies Careers

Salaries for area studies graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers area studies grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors $85,450

Getting Your Area Studies Degree

With over 2,135 different area studies degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased area studies school rankings to help you with this.

Area Studies is one of 1 different types of Area, Ethnic, Culture, & Gender Studies programs to choose from.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Ethnic Studies 9,432

View All Area Studies Related Majors >


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