Online College for Ethnic Studies

The field of ethnic studies was developed in response to the 1960s civil rights movement in the U.S. A group of scholars concerned with the marginalization of communities of color founded what they then called the National Association of Interdisciplinary Studies for Native-American, Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican and Asian Americans in the early 1970s. In 1985, this group renamed itself the National Association for Ethnic Studies (NAES). Ethnic studies is a multidisciplinary field of scholarship and draws on academic disciplines that include anthropology, history, literature, politics and the law. Scholars are able to combine the most useful approaches to their topics to come up with a unique framework that lets them address many aspects of ethnic identity.

While there are few careers that explicitly require a degree in ethnic studies, the background provided by online degrees in ethnic studies may be applied to entry-level positions in a wide variety of fields. Ethnic studies may be especially valuable in fields where diversity plays an important role. Examples include market research, human resources and public relations. Learning about the history and culture of a particular group enables individuals who are not members to foster an appreciation and deeper understanding that they might otherwise never develop. Members of an ethnic group may find that their insight and understanding of their cultural heritage expands in valuable ways. As a result, those interested in pursuing ethnic studies should be creative, tolerant, and above all, intellectually curious.

What to Expect From Online Programs in Ethnic Studies

Online colleges offering degrees in ethnic studies provide students with exposure to theory and methods from a wide variety of disciplines. Rather than locking students in to a particular way of thinking, you can expect to learn that there are many correct ways to approach problems. This breadth of exposure helps students develop critical thinking skills, which are important in today's job market where norms and practices change rapidly. In fact, the American Association of Colleges and Universities (aacu.org), stated in a 2013 report that over 90 percent of employers value critical thinking, communication skills, and intercultural skills in their employees. Because online degrees in ethnic studies expose students to the perspectives of a wide variety of cultures, students have the opportunity to develop communication skills and the ability to see issues from another's perspective.

Job Outlook for College Graduates in Ethnic Studies

An online degree in ethnic studies could set up graduates for work in a variety of career fields, incluiding human relations, public relations and market research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national job growth among human resources specialists and public relations specialists is expected to grow 21 and 23 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). The median national annual salary for these careers as of May 2012 was also similar, at $55,800 and $54,170, respectively (bls.gov/oes, 2013). Employment of market research analysts is expected to grow significantly faster, at over 40 percent during this 10-year period (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). These positions may also pay more, with a national median annual salary of $60,300 recorded as of May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013). Those interested in careers in any of these areas may wish to supplement their online degrees in ethnic studies by seeking out internships in areas that relate to their career goals.


  1. "What is Ethnic Studies," Northern Arizona University, Accessed July 1, 2013, http://nau.edu/SBS/Ethnic-Studies/What-is-ES/
  2. "NAES History," National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2011, http://ethnicstudies.org/about/naes-history
  3. "Human Resources Specialists," May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131071.htm
  4. "Human Resources Specialists," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm
  5. "Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists," May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131161.htm
  6. "Marketing Research Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 8, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm
  7. "Public Relations Specialists," May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273031.htm
  8. "Public Relations Managers and Specialists," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers-and-specialists.htm#tab-6
  9. "Employers More Interested in Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Than College Major," Association of American Colleges and Universities, April 10, 2013, http://www.aacu.org/press/press-releases/employers-more-interested-critical-thinking-and-problem-solving-college-major

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