Overview of Cross-Cultural Studies Degree Programs

In cross-cultural studies programs, students learn about the dynamics, communications and issues between world races and cultures through traditional coursework and internships.

Essential Information

Some cross-cultural studies programs can be found in secular schools, but a large number are available at bible colleges and seminaries as preparation for evangelistic or missionary work. A two-year associate's curriculum covers world religions, church planting, interpersonal relationships between cultures, U.S. minorities and personal leadership dynamics. Bachelor's students receive help developing a personal at-home or abroad ministry that is mindful of cultural differences. That considered, many courses discuss various elements of mission-work, including the methods, practices, principles and history of missions and it's relation to anthropology. Pupils can also choose a concentration in a supplementary area, like linguistics, foreign language and education.

Master's programs tend to be more secular and centralized on providing students with the skills needed to bridge cultural gaps. Class topics include intellectual and cultural property rights, the contributions and roles of indigenous insight, diversity and cross-cultural families. Direct experience is gained through internships and/or mission trips.

  • Program Levels: Associate's, bachelor's and master's.
  • Prerequisites: A high school diploma or equivalent and standardized test scores for the undergraduate level; a bachelor's degree, 2 years of relevant experience and acceptable GRE scores for a master's.
  • Program Specializations: Options include education and linguistics.
  • Program Length: 2 years for an associate's.
  • Other Requirements: Completion of an internship or mission trip is mandatory for master's graduation.

Associate's Degree in Cross-Cultural Studies

Depending on the institution and program focus, associate's-level studies can have 2-8 required core courses. These classes discuss the ministry's role in culture as a whole and how it can function for the benefit of those living in other parts of the world. Additionally, students learn about different cultures they may eventually be exposed to during missions so they can make the adjustment easier for both parties involved. Course topics typically address:

  • Cross-cultural ministry
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Hispanic and Latino American culture
  • Discipleship and evangelism
  • Interpersonal relationships between cultures

Bachelor's Degree in Cross-Cultural Studies

Much of the coursework between associate's and bachelor's cross-cultural studies curricula intersect. However, students enrolled in a bachelor's program gain a deeper understanding of foreign cultures and how ministries are developed. Students also learn how the sacred text addresses the purpose of international mission efforts. Course topics featured in a bachelor's program include:

  • Biblical basis for cross-cultural ministries
  • Cross-cultural literature
  • Culture and language
  • Dimensions of missions
  • International missions practicum

Master's Degree in Cross-Cultural Studies

The content of master's classes depends on whether a program is more secular or religious. A unique aspect of cross-cultural studies at this level is that some of the coursework teaches students how to help preserve the culture they are investigating and educate others about it. The curriculum also focuses on how culture impacts major societal functions and how intervention can change that process. Topics discussed in classes generally include:

  • Awareness and culture
  • Cross-cultural organization
  • Documenting knowledge of indigenous peoples
  • Ecological systems and traditional knowledge
  • Impact of cultural processes on education

Popular Career Options

Graduates are eligible for employment as church counselors, youth pastors and missionaries, among other roles. Some individuals work in the fields of remedial education and adult literacy, language translating and postsecondary teaching. Master's degree holders have access to positions such as:

  • Social service worker
  • Human resources specialist
  • Cross-cultural consultant
  • Education counselor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for human resources specialists and postsecondary teachers is predicted to grow at a rate of 7% and 19% over the 2012-2022 decade, respectively. The average salary for human resource specialists was $62,590 as of May 2014, while post secondary educators in ethnic and cultural studies earned an average annual salary of $78,120 during that time, according to the BLS. Community and social service occupation workers earned a mean income of $45,310 also as of May 2014.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates may further their education with advanced degrees in cultural anthropology, linguistics or in the study of a specific culture.

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