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Area Studies Major

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Area Studies

4,981 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
1,164 Master's Degrees Annually
#77 in Popularity
$85,450 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Area Studies Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many area studies graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 4,984
Master’s Degree 1,164
Basic Certificate 403
Doctor’s Degree 236
Associate’s Degree 189
Graduate Certificate 135
Undergraduate Certificate 45

What Area Studies Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, area studies majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Area Studies Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in area studies should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Foreign Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
  • History and Archeology - Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.

Skills for Area Studies Majors

area studies majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Area Studies Majors

Area Studies majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a Area Studies Major?

People with a area studies degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors 10.4% $74,440

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Area Studies?

4,984 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
64% Percent Women
40% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 4,981 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in area studies in 2018, making it rank #77 in popularity. This major is dominated by women with about 64% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of area studies majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Area Studies Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 485
Black or African American 340
Hispanic or Latino 815
White 2,504
International Students 377
Other Races/Ethnicities 463

Geographic Diversity

Area Studies appeals to people across the globe. About 7.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany

How Much Do Area Studies Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in area studies have a median salary of $32,300 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $28,100 (25th percentile) and $36,700 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a area studies degree.

Salaries According to BLS

The median salary for someone in a career related to area studies is $85,450. This median refers to all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an Area Studies Major  85450
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with area studies may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for area studies careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.2%
Master’s Degree 31.5%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 3.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.1%
Doctoral Degree 61.6%
Post-Doctoral Training 4.0%

Online Area Studies Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 512 schools offered some type of area studies program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 93 1
Certificate (1-2 years) 21 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 5 0
Associate’s Degree 17 2
Bachelor’s Degree 81 3
Post-Baccalaureate 93 1
Master’s Degree 246 3
Post-Master’s 32 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 80 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Area Studies Worth It?

The median salary for a area studies grad is $85,450 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 114% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $911,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to area studies.

Major Number of Grads
Ethnic Studies 7,727

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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