Asian-American Studies

Asian-American studies is an interdisciplinary field that can prepare students for a variety of careers in business, education and social assistance. Keep reading to find out more about this area of study, including employment opportunities and salary potential for Asian-American studies specialists.

Is Asian-American Studies for Me?

Overview of the Field

Asian-American studies programs are usually offered as undergraduate majors and minors and include interdisciplinary topics in art, culture, history and politics. They also address some of the contemporary issues faced by Asian-Americans in the United States. Asian-American studies programs usually allow for the study of specific ethnic groups and populations, such as the Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Filipinos. Some schools also offer graduate programs in cultural studies that can help you understand what it means to be an Asian-American in a societal context.

Career Options

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of an Asian-American studies program, graduates are prepared for a number of careers, which can include entry-level jobs in social work and the chance to assist newly immigrated Asian-American families. Additional education or training may qualify Asian-American studies majors for teaching positions at the high school or college level. Other related career fields can include law, urban planning and business.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of high school teachers is expected to increase by 6% nationwide, or slower than average, between 2012 and 2022. By comparison, opportunities for postsecondary teachers will increase by 19%, or faster than average, through 2022. In May 2013, the BLS noted that high school teachers earned an average annual wage of $58,260, while the average yearly salary for a college professor teaching area, ethnic and cultural studies was $77,550 (www.bls.gov).

That same year, the median yearly salary for a child, family or school social worker was $46,060. Employment opportunities for child, family and school social workers are projected to increase by 15% nationwide, or faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. It's important to note that most entry-level social workers hold at least a bachelor's degree in social work. Licensed clinical social workers usually need a master's degree and state licensure.

How Can I Work in Asian-American Studies?

Bachelor's Degree Programs

At the undergraduate level, core courses in an Asian-American studies program may include topics in race and ethnicity, diaspora, racial identity and cultural psychology. Courses in Asian-American history, culture, community and literature will also play a role in the curriculum. You may also have the option to pursue a culture and language concentration in Chinese, Japanese, Filipino or Vietnamese.

Similar coursework can be found through an undergraduate minor in Asian Studies, which typically requires 21 credits to complete and might include courses in the humanities and social sciences. The study of an Asian language is recommended, especially if you're considering an advanced degree.

Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in Asian-American studies allow for a more in-depth look at multiple cultural themes and typically culminate in a thesis. Depending on the program, you may have the chance to examine immigration law and contemporary issues in public policy as they relate to the Asian-American community. Graduate seminars may explore the relationship between family and identity or cover topics in the arts and literature. You might also receive training in advanced research methodologies and data analysis.

Doctoral Degree Programs

A doctorate in Asian-American or ethnic studies is usually required to teach at the college or university level. Additional requirements can include a satisfactory score on an exam and a dissertation in your area of special interest.

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