Careers in Ethnic Studies

What Can You Do with a Major in Ethnic Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Studies, or Native American Studies?

Choosing a major is not the same as choosing a career.  It is one step in a process that may lead to a number of different career options.  Most majors do not directly correlate to specific occupations.  Instead, choosing a major allows you to pursue your interests and develop skills that are transferable to a variety of career fields.

One way to begin thinking about your choice of major is by addressing the following questions:

  • What is the focus of this major?
  • What skills will I develop in this major?
  • What are some of the most popular career options for graduates with this major?
  • What other resources are available to help me with this decision?

Intellectual focus of the Ethnic Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, and Native American Studies majors at Cal

Each major provides a curriculum that critically examines the historical and contemporary experiences of minority groups in the context of U.S. society and institutions.  Each major stresses the analysis of the interrelationships in the historical background, cultural patterns, and artistic expressions of each community in order to acquire a well-rounded, in-depth understanding of the contemporary interface between Asian American, Chicano/Latino, and Native Americans and U.S. society.  Each major is interdisciplinary in nature and strives to incorporate various disciplines, such as anthropology, art, education, history, law, literary criticism, political science, public policy, and sociology, in its approach.

Related Skills

In completing work for the bachelor’s degree, students in each major acquire and sharpen skills similar to those of other liberal arts majors in the humanities and social sciences.  For example, they develop and refine skills in creative and critical thinking, and in analyzing, researching, and understanding people and institutions in different communities and cultures.  They also develop and refine skills through well-analyzed and clearly written papers. 

Students in each major are encouraged to consider minors in fields that will enhance those skills and add to their overall breadth of knowledge.  Minors include those in City & Regional Planning, Creative Writing, Education, English, Gender & Women’s Studies, Geography, and Public Policy. 

Majors are also encouraged to develop or enhance their skills in speaking and writing in another language.  Acquiring internship and/or volunteer experience is highly encouraged for majors. These opportunities can help students acquire important experience for graduate or professional school and assist with career exploration and developing skills that are desirable in a number of different careers.

Career Options

One popular career option for majors is teaching, either in colleges and universities or secondary schools at the K-12 level.  Another career option is in the counseling (clinical, career, or academic) field.  A career in law can make good use of the major's specialized knowledge of underrepresented communities.  That knowledge is also useful in many different careers, such as: journalism, marketing, community and housing development, radio and television, health and medicine, community and union organizing, social work, and a wide variety of positions in federal, state, and local governments as well as those at the city and county levels.

Graduate and Professional School Options

There are a number of colleges and universities that offer master’s and Ph.D. programs in Asian American, Chicano, Ethnic and Native American Studies. Accordingly, persons who seek careers in college and university teaching should acquire at least a master's degree and preferably a Ph.D.  ES graduates who desire legal careers should go on to law school and obtain a J.D. degree.  Another option is obtaining a degree of M.P.P. (Master of Public Policy) for those seeking careers in economic or community development and policy making.  Those who seek careers in counseling should also seek at least the M.A/M.S. degree.  The degree of M.S.W. (Master of Social Work) is highly desirable for those seeking a career in social work and an M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) for those interested in the health field.

Career Resources at Cal

Career & Educational Guidance Library

The Career & Educational Guidance Library at 2220 Bancroft Way (next to the University Health Services Tang Center) has an extensive collection of books, articles, and other publications that can help you explore majors and related career fields. 

The Career & Educational Guidance Library also offers two computer-assisted career guidance systems (My Road and EUREKA) that can help you assess your interests, skills, and values, and identify major and career options.

Career Center

The Career Center located at 2111 Bancroft Way also has an extensive collection of publications and services that can help you explore different majors, various career fields and assist with internship and employment opportunities.

The Career Center also offers services related to graduate and professional schools. These services include: graduate school fairs, application workshops, letter service, and personal statement reviews.

Undergraduate program


Ethnic Studies Department
506 Barrows Hall #2570
Berkeley, CA 94720-2570
510-643-0796
510-642-6456 fax
ethnicst@berkeley.edu

Office Hours: Mon - Thurs 9-12, 1-4, Fri 9-12