Area Studies

Overview of Area Studies College and University Programs

Area studies programs are interdisciplinary programs that are traditionally administered through a college or university's Humanities and Social Sciences department. Programs in area studies focus on teaching students about a specific cultural or geographic region such as Asia or Africa.

Degrees in Area Studies

Students seeking to earn an accredited degree in area studies have many options regarding the level of education they choose to pursue. Degrees in area studies are available at the Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate levels. The Certificate program is the shortest path of education and generally requires approximately one year to complete. The Associate's degree in area studies usually takes a two-year commitment while the Bachelor's degree takes four years or two years on top of the Associate's degree. In order to earn a Master's degree in area studies, one must have a Bachelor's degree in any major, and the program takes two years to complete. A Doctorate degree in area studies usually takes three years to finish and is the penultimate degree in this program.

College and University Area Studies Curriculum

The curriculum for an area studies degree will vary depending on the specialization a student chooses, as different areas require different courses. The general core courses, however, remain the same across area studies degrees and the colleges and universities that grant them. They include:

  • English
  • Foreign language (of the area studied)
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Economics
  • Political science
  • Law and ethics (of the region)
  • Anthropology
  • Communications
  • Logic
  • Philosophy
  • Literature
  • Cultural studies
How to Enroll in Area Studies College and University Programs

The area studies degree can be completed through many different educational paths. An area studies degree can be attained online or offline and both options have different advantages. Online area studies programs are perfect for students who plan to work full-time during their education. They offer a great deal of flexibility regarding scheduling and assignments that offline programs cannot provide. Pursuing the area studies degree offline has advantages as well. This method of education allows students more interaction with their professors and classmates, and grants them a more traditional college experience particularly with social events.

Skills Gained with Area Studies Programs

Earning an area studies degree allows you to gain a number of skills that will guide your career path and open the doors to a variety of professions. Some of the skills taught through area studies programs will also benefit you in your personal life. A number of the skills gained through area studies programs include:

  • Ability to conduct research and analyze data/findings
  • Critical reasoning skills
  • Ability to speak a foreign language and communicate with people of other cultures
  • Understanding of the traditions and customs of a culture
  • Exposure to different legal systems
  • Communication skills to deliver information
  • Critical reading abilities to interpret various documents
Working in Area Studies

Area studies degree graduates can find employment in a number of different positions due to the interdisciplinary nature of the degree. One profession available is a foreign service officer for the government. Foreign service officers work as diplomats and emissaries for the United States throughout the world and earn a median starting salary of $43,213 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earning a graduate degree in the field allows students to enter postsecondary teaching positions as professors and earn an average salary of $68,020.

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