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Area Studies

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Area Studies Major

6,573 yearly degrees
#121 in popularity
$85,000 median salary

Area studies is a major that typically falls into the Ethnic, Culture & Gender Studies category.

There are 17 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in area studies, 1,120 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 246 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 81 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an Area Studies Degree?

In 2017, roughly 5,100 area studies majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree. This makes it #76 in popularity of all the majors we track. This major is dominated by women with about 64.1% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 9.7%
  • Black or African American: 6.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 16.4%
  • White: 50.2%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 7.6%
  • Other Races: 9.3%
Area Studies Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in area studies. About 7.6% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending area studies majors to the U.S. are China, South Korea and Japan.

What Will You Learn as an Area Studies Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to area studies to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Area Studies Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Area Studies Majors

Skills for Area Studies Majors

When studying area studies, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for Area Studies Majors

Abilities for Area Studies Majors

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

Important Abilities for area studies Majors

What Can You Do With an Area Studies Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with area studies:

Careers Related to Area Studies
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors



Area Studies Major Salary

Area studies majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $85,000 to $85,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for an Area Studies Major  ( 85000 to 85000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Area Studies Major Jobs

Some careers associated with area studies require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to area studies have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Area Studies
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Area Studies Programs

There are 1,120 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in area studies, with 8 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is an Area Studies Major Worth It?

The median salary for an area studies grad is $85,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 120% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $931,000 after 20 years!

area studies salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Karl Udo Gerth via License

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