Overview of Cross-Cultural Studies Degree Programs

Degree programs in cross-cultural studies focus on promoting understanding and communication between cultures. In this article, we'll explore associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs, including an overview of common courses, continuing education opportunities and career options for graduates.

Essential Information

Cross-cultural studies programs can be found in secular schools, but a large number are available in Bible colleges and seminaries as preparation for evangelistic or missionary work. Undergraduate programs are often religious in nature. Associate degree programs offer a broad overview of topics such as church planting and cross-cultural relationships. Many graduates with associate degrees go on to bachelor's programs for more specific training in an area of focus, such as education or missions.

Master's level programs offer students the opportunity to research cultural diversity and relationships. Students may have the opportunity to participate in internships or mission trips.

Associate Degree in Cross-Cultural Studies

Associate degree programs in cross-cultural studies are available for students taking this first step toward a bachelor's degree or those who want to seek some kind of employment in the field without first completing a 4-year program. This degree program is also available at various religious-based schools for students who wish to pursue a vocational ministry or just want an education based in religion or the bible. Students pursuing this third option may then go on to earn a bachelor's degree in a non-religious field or apply the credits earned to a degree in biblical or theological studies. These programs usually only require applicants to have graduated from high school or have an equivalent degree.

Program Coursework

Depending on the school and its program's focus, an associate degree program in cross-cultural studies can have from 2-8 required courses in the major core. These can address:

  • Cross-cultural ministry
  • Church planting
  • Cultural anthropology
  • Hispanic and Latino American culture
  • Discipleship and evangelism
  • Interpersonal relationships between cultures
  • Personal leadership dynamics
  • U.S. minorities
  • World religions

Popular Career Options

Earning an associate's degree in cross-cultural studies can form a foundation for further study. Graduates can also move on into positions such as as:

  • Church counselor
  • Missionary
  • Youth pastor

Bachelor's Degree in Cross-Cultural Studies

Various bachelor's degree programs in cross-cultural studies allow students to choose a particular emphasis, such as education or missions. Some help students develop a personal ministry, for at home or abroad, that is mindful of cultural differences. Other programs offer linguistics and foreign language preparation as a secondary emphasis. In addition to the common requirements of a high school diploma or acceptable equivalent, some schools expect either SAT or ACT scores.

Program Coursework

Many courses in a bachelor's degree program offer courses also available in a 2-year program. Topics specific to a bachelor's program might include:

  • Biblical basis for cross-cultural ministries
  • Communication between cultures
  • Cross-cultural literature
  • Culture and language
  • Dimensions of missions
  • History of missions
  • Methods, practices and principles of missions
  • Missions and anthropology
  • International missions practicum
  • Minority culture in the U.S. practicum

Career Options

Earning a bachelor's degree in cross-cultural studies opens up the possibility for employment in a number of fields. These include:

  • Remedial education
  • Adult literacy
  • Translating and interpreting
  • Religion
  • Postsecondary teaching

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), adult literacy and GED teachers could expect job growth of 9%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, from 2012-2022. The BLS reported adult education and literacy instructors earned a median annual salary of $51,110 as of May 2013.

The BLS projected job growth of 46%, much faster than the average for all occupations, for interpreters and translators from 2012-2022. These professionals earned a median of $42,420 as of May 2013, the BLS reported.

Continuing Education

There are generally no continuing education requirements for cross-cultural studies careers, unless they are combined with an adjunct degree that requires it. However, as the careers may be broad in scope, many graduates choose to take further coursework in cross-cultural studies or in related subjects, such as cultural anthropology, linguistics or the study of a specific culture.

Master's Degree in Cross-Cultural Studies

Master's degree programs are more likely to be secular. Students in these programs develop an increased appreciation of cultural diversity, learn to grasp various cultural dynamics and cultivate the skills needed for bridging these dissimilarities. Study of the contributions and roles of indigenous insight is also pursued. Internships or mission trips are often a part of these programs.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants to a master's program must have an earned baccalaureate from an accredited school, often in an approved field. Some programs require two years of related experience. Scores from GRE or other designated graduate level tests may also be required. .

Program Coursework

Coursework can vary depending on whether a program is secularly- or religiously-based. Course topic may include:

  • Awareness and culture
  • Cross-cultural organization
  • Documenting knowledge of indigenous peoples
  • Ecological systems and traditional knowledge
  • Impact of cultural processes on education
  • Intellectual and cultural property rights
  • Linguistics
  • Majorities and minorities
  • Cross-cultural families

Career Options

Graduates find that holding a master's degree in cross-cultural studies opens a variety of career opportunities in areas as wide-ranging as:

  • Postsecondary education
  • Social services
  • Human resources
  • Cross-cultural consulting
  • Education counseling
  • Mission work

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, workers in community and social services occupations in general earned a median annual salary of $40,810 as of May 2013. In general, community and social service occupations were expected to grow by 17%, which is faster than the national average.

The BLS projected human resources specialists could expect job growth of 8% from 2012-2022. As of May 2013, these professionals earned a median of $56,630.

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