Ethnic Studies Overview

Students who major in Ethnic, Cultural Minority or Group Studies usually choose a topic to focus on such as African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic-Americans, women, gay/lesbian culture, and more. The program will include a combination of courses delving into the history, politics, literature and modern development of these ethnicities, cultures or groups.

A major in ethnic studies will give students a broad set of knowledge in various minority groups, what challenges they have faced throughout time and what their culture is about by studying literature, learning about their history and political leanings.

Because a major in ethnic studies is so wide-ranging, this major can lay the groundwork for you to start a career in many fields including business, teaching, sociology, diplomacy, public policy, and others. For example, you may work in business to help the company understand a cultural impact of a product you are developing. You could opt to become a high school or college-level teacher specializing in a certain area of history.

To work in a post-secondary position, you will need to have a bachelor's and possibly a master's degree or Ph.D. in ethnic studies. Other careers that can utilize your ethnic studies education will vary by the industry you work in.

Required Skills

For most careers in this field, interpersonal skills, written and oral communication and critical thinking will be important. In any position, it is critical to be able to effectively communicate with others both verbally and via written communication. The type of positions utilizing a person who studied ethnic studies will also likely need critical thinking skills. They will need to be able to evaluate cultural norms and decide for themselves what they think.


The average salary of a person working with an ethnic studies major will vary greatly by industry and position they work in. As ethnic studies is academically focused, many people will start careers in education. Post-secondary instructors can expect to earn an average salary of just over $72,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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