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2021 Ethnic Studies Degree Guide

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.

A Spike in Ethnic Studies Degrees

#102 Most Popular Major
9.4k Degrees Awarded
18.1% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, ethnic studies was the 102nd most popular major nationwide with 9,432 degrees awarded. This represents a 18.1% increase in ethnic studies degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 7,727.

There are 466 schools offering degrees in ethnic studies in the United States. Explore this or one of our many other custom ethnic studies rankings further below.

Ethnic Studies Degree Requirements

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.

Ethnic Studies Degree Program Entry Requirements

ethnic 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. In addition to these basic ethnic studies program qualifications, to serve in some ethnic studies careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Ethnic Studies Degree Types

There are many different ethnic studies degree levels. Ethnic Studies programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest ethnic studies degree you can get. The time it takes to complete a ethnic 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 ethnic studies, with approximately 30.3% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for ethnic studies workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Doctoral Degree 41.5%
Master’s Degree 29.6%
Bachelor’s Degree 17.0%
Post-Master’s Certificate 5.1%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 3.7%

Most workers in ethnic studies have at least a master's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in ethnic studies careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the ethnic studies career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for Ethnic Studies Majors

Below Average Number of Jobs
$27.6k Average Starting Salary
17% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

High Growth Projected for Ethnic Studies Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your ethnic studies degree? Ethnic Studies careers are expected to grow 16.7% between 2016 and 2026.

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

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Interpreters and Translators 80,300 17.7%
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors 12,700 10.4%

Ethnic Studies Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated ethnic studies students earned an average of $27,585 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $19,800 to as high as $41,600. As you might expect, salaries for ethnic studies graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Ethnic Studies Majors

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

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors $85,450
Interpreters and Translators $55,230

Getting Your Ethnic Studies Degree

With over 1,803 different ethnic 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 ethnic studies school rankings to help you with this.

One of 1 majors within the Area, Ethnic, Culture, & Gender Studies area of study, Ethnic Studies has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Area Studies 7,160

View All Ethnic Studies Related Majors >


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