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Ethnic Studies

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Ethnic Studies Major

6,854 yearly degrees
#124 in popularity
$55,000 median salary

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

There are 130 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in ethnic studies, 779 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 132 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 51 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an Ethnic Studies Degree?

Ethnic studies runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #72 out of all the majors we track. In 2017, about 5,500 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this major. This major is dominated by women with about 82.4% of recent graduates being female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 6.3%
  • Black or African American: 19.5%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 27%
  • White: 32.9%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 2.3%
  • Other Races: 11.9%
Ethnic Studies Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in ethnic studies. About 2.3% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending ethnic studies majors to the U.S. are China, South Korea and Canada.

What Will You Learn as an Ethnic Studies Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to ethnic 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 Ethnic Studies Majors

A major in ethnic studies should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Ethnic Studies Majors

Skills for Ethnic Studies Majors

When studying ethnic 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 Ethnic Studies Majors

Abilities for Ethnic Studies Majors

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

Important Abilities for ethnic studies Majors

What Can You Do With an Ethnic Studies Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with ethnic studies:

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

Interpreters and Translators



Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors



Ethnic Studies Major Salary

Ethnic studies majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $55,000 to $85,000. This range includes 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, 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 Ethnic Studies Major  ( 55000 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 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Ethnic Studies Major Jobs

Some careers associated with ethnic 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.

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

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Ethnic 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 Ethnic Studies Programs

There are 779 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies, with 22 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.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is an Ethnic Studies Major Worth It?

The median salary for an ethnic studies grad is $55,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 42% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $326,600 after 20 years!

ethnic 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: G. MГјtzel via License

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