Last Updated: May 18, 2021
Studying Ethnic and Cultural Studies in the US
When talking in terms of a subject, ethnic and cultural studies is actually a comparative analysis of ethnic and racial groups, examination of all biases, interpretations of various cultural practices, as well as exploration and discovery of a broad vision of a society, which is 'multiculturally intelligent', with enhanced awareness of embedded stereotypes and beliefs regarding race, gender, ethnicity, class, disability, and sexuality.
Ethnic Studies is in fact an interdisciplinary endeavor, which begins from an assumption that racism and race have always been, and still continue to be, deeply powerful cultural and social forces in the American society as well as existent in contemporaneity at large.
The teaching focuses on certain specific experiences of Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, Chicanos, and Latinos, and other groups that are 'racialized' in America, and on various lessons of relative studies on ethno-racial for extrapolating about the U.S history and society and about the modern-day global order (because racism and race are neither specifically American nor just a 'domestic case') in today's world.
The aim is to study racism and race as targets that are 'moving', and that undergo certain mutations or evolve otherwise and to distinguish between the complication of the crossroads of the race with sexuality, class, gender, and any other rules of difference that have strong power-effects.
Benefits of Studying Ethnic and Cultural Studies
Ethnic Studies is often considered to be the subset of Cultural Studies drawing from disciplines like History, Literature, Political Science, Anthropology, Psychology, and even Law and Criminal Justice. It is the study of race and ethnicity through a cultural background that focuses on underrepresented racial groups. Taking up this course will help students understand the history involved in the oppression of certain classes and ponder over the continuation of both race and racism in the country.
The course is both to create self-awareness and also to empower those who have been underrepresented in various environments. Students who have taken up the course will be able to comprehend perspectives of different worlds and engage in society as morally and ethically responsible individuals. They will be able to use their knowledge to integrate social justice into their actions and also focus on their cultural identity with pride rather than a sense of blending in.
Most often, students who have completed the course move on to research in their topic of interest and work as professors. If they want to enter the job market after leaving academia, they will also have the option of being interpreters and translators. Students also take their knowledge in the field to other fields in order to benefit society better. The fields they move on to are law, medicine, and non-profit organizations.
Top Universities for Ethnic and Cultural Studies
The top universities to study Ethnic Studies are-
- Yale University
- Cornell University
- University of California-Berkeley
- Brown University
- George Washington University
Undergraduate Program in Ethnic and Cultural Studies
A Bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies provides the student with basic knowledge on race, ethnicity, and indigeneity as is seen historically and contemporarily. Most courses will have a larger backdrop than just one country in their focus which will help the student identity patterns and theoretical aspects of oppression which gives them a liberal art skillset of critically evaluating perspectives and also writing fluently on topics of relevance.
The courses generally focus on how students can develop skills in writing, reading, speaking, research, and other aspects like creative thinking. The training they receive in the liberal arts course will aid them in both moving on to working for the society and even for moving on to other disciplines.
The courses in the subject focus on concepts of race and racism along with the associated meaning to these words due to other aspects like structural violence, colonialism, assimilation, etc. Like other Bachelor’s degrees, it takes 4 years to complete BA in Ethnic Studies.
Graduate Program in Ethnic and Cultural Studies
Students who move on to taking a Master’s degree in the course will have the chance to narrow down their focus onto a particular aspect in this vast field. Here they will be able to focus on subjects like Resistance, Africana Studies, American Indian Studies, Latino Studies, etc. by applying the theoretical aspects of the course into real-life narratives. The Master’s program takes around1-3 years of time in all to be completed.
Most students who take up a Master’s program in the field move on to research and take up Doctoral programs as well in order to specialize in their field of interest. This course generally focuses on subjects like diaspora, migration, citizenship, war, labor, etc., and assesses them as focal points through which elements of racism can be found. Students will also be required to learn the critical theory that can analyze the shifts in thought over the ages through the works of prominent thinkers.
For admission into a graduate degree program in Ethnic Studies, for instance at UC San Diego, California, one ought to submit their application for admission into the program, plus a set of the official transcripts required from every institution they attended post-high school, along with GRE's official scores, 3 letters of recommendation at least, application fee, and 1 or more than 1 sample of their own writing. Additionally, all foreign applicants need to submit their official TOEFL/IELTS scores.
Doctoral Programs in Ethnic and Cultural Studies
A large majority of students who take up Ethnic studies move on to receive a Ph.D. in the field due to the specific nature of the course and the relevance it has on society. A doctoral program may take more than 4 years to be completed and includes a certain amount of required coursework in the beginning.
The research scholar will have to complete their required amount of coursework and take an exam on the same after which they will have to submit a proposal regarding their research idea and then eventually completing a thesis on the subject. They will have to defend their thesis on the topic of their choice which they will have developed under a guide.
Courses Offered in Ethnic and Cultural Studies
- Asian American Studies:
This subject focuses on the interdisciplinary contemporary and historical study of experiences of various Asian- lineage groups in global, national, and local contexts. 'Asian American' actually is a pan-ethnic term specifying a population of racialized people made up of different groups, individuals of Asian ancestry along with encompassing all the U.S.-born and foreign-born. San Francisco State University, California State University, and Stanford University are popular colleges for this discipline.
- African-American/Black Studies:
This particular discipline deals with the history and culture of African-descended people with special attention to their experiences and associations with the United States. Universities such as the University of California, University at Albany, Temple University, University of Virginia, and the University of North Carolina are popular choices among students.
- Latino/Chicano Studies:
The majors in Latino/Chicano Studies offer an interdisciplinary study, which examines the contemporary and historical experiences of various people, critically, of Mexican ancestry in the linguistic context of the U.S society and other institutions. The major in Chicano studies include studying some particular aspects of the Mexican culture, politics, and history and the effects they have on this community's present and past. Colleges such as the University of Pittsburgh, Columbia University, and Harvard University offer courses in the discipline.
- Native American Studies:
This program broadens the understanding of all the pupils interested in the culture, contemporary, and historical situations of U.S-based Native Americans. The curriculum is generally structured for providing courses dealing with both the cultural and historical analysis of the Native American cultures, contemporary social and legal institutions, which affect the Native American lifestyle.
- Gay/Lesbian Studies:
This course is the examination, interpretation, and analysis of the phenomenon that is characterized by affectionate and romantic preference by people for other people of the same gender/sex. It's cross-disciplinary by nature, covering an array of rational bases: history, literature, psychology, religion, philosophy, sociology, medicine, anthropology, fine arts, law, and others.
- African Studies:
This is a discipline that deals with the historical and contemporary studies of various African groups along with their associations with the United States. Institutions such as Harvard University, Stanford University, University at Albany, Franklin & Marshall College, and Boston University offer various courses on African studies.
Career Opportunities after Graduating Ethnic and Cultural Studies
Students who have studied Ethnic and Cultural Studies have the option of taking up an academic career along with other careers like counseling and community development. Having a Master’s degree in the subject will provide them with the option of teaching at colleges and universities receiving a high-scale salary and letting them develop their academic interests over time.
Some people also move on to fields like a law that can help them contribute to the well-being of underrepresented communities. They will also have the option of working in fields like marketing, journalism, housing and community development, television, and radio, medicine, and health, social work, union and community organizing, plus a range of different positions in the state, local governments, federal, county and city levels.
The various fields that you can find a job under, with a degree in Ethnic and Cultural studies are:
- University Professor- People who have received a Ph.D. in the subject can become university-level professors in the subject while continuing their research and publishing papers that are part of their research.
Median Salary- $90,160
- High School Teacher- They have to teach ethnic and cultural studies to students at a high school level.
Median Salary: $88,790
- Social workers- They generally deal with the everyday problems of other people in different settings. They usually work in schools, mental health clinics, houses, and can even practice privately. The job is a full-time one with few or no holidays.
Median Salary: $51,760
- Grant writer- They have to draft proposals that help both organizations and individuals or animals in receiving their grant funding. This job involves a lot of research and paperwork and will include both researching the grants and writing the proposals.
Median Salary: $20-$100 per hour
- Museum Curators- They deal with the restoration of historical artifacts in museums and will have to work on historical sites that are either publicly or privately funded.
Median Salary: $52,140
- Cultural Advisor- They work with people from diverse cultures in order to facilitate their coexistence. They work with health professionals and educational spokespersons most of the time and it requires a necessary amount of investment in the cultural heritage they have to work on through different projects.
Median Salary: $30,000-$50,000 as a fresher
As far as the growth and the future of Ethnic Studies is concerned, there will be a competition for tenure-based positions and there will be better opportunities for part-time/non-tenure-based positions. There will be a good number of renewable term and part-time appointments at various institutions as well as at many community colleges. Also, there will be plenty of opportunities for the holders of a master's degree as there is expected to be good growth in career education courses, community colleges, plus other institutions employing them. There will also be career opportunities for graduate-level teaching assistants as they have an important role to play in the postsecondary system of education.