Diversity Studies Certificate and Degree Program Overviews

Oct 14, 2019

Diversity studies programs cover racial and gender issues from a multicultural perspective. Certificate and graduate degree programs can prepare students for a variety of careers in research, education, public policy and law.

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Essential Information

Diversity studies programs train students to recognize societal issues and offer solutions. Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs offer a broad overview of social and ethnic diversity, giving students the opportunity to explore a variety of topics where diversity is a factor. These are short programs, usually eight or fewer courses.

Master's programs allow students to examine many components of diversity and require a thesis or practicum. A bachelor's degree, writing samples, statements of purpose, and an essay describing reasons for pursuing diversity studies is required for admittance to a master's program. At the doctoral level, students engage in research and study specific social issues through a dissertation. Proficiency in a foreign language and a master's degree is also required at the doctoral level.

Certificate Programs in Diversity Studies

These programs typically involve the analysis of social diversity and ethnicity from an interdisciplinary approach, with an overview of different world cultures and the elements that distinguish one culture from another. Students explore languages and literature of various cultures, acquire skills in communicating with diverse groups and understand the role of diversity in the workplace.

Credits earned can be counted toward a graduate degree. A high school diploma is required for admission. The educational framework focuses on several disciplines, including ethnicity, religion and gender. Courses may include:

  • Childhood education and diversity
  • Ethnic relations
  • Social inequality
  • Gender issues in communication
  • Feminist political theories
  • Physical education for people with disabilities

Master's Degree Programs in Diversity Studies

These programs aim to provide greater insight into the social, biological and cultural components of diversity by covering disability studies, as well cultural, gender and ethnicity studies. Students examine the ways in which these elements combine from multicultural perspectives. The program seeks to deconstruct societal differences through global, social and historical contexts. Students can expect to complete a thesis or practicum to fulfill program requirements. Courses may include:

  • Gender psychology
  • Gender diversity studies
  • Women across cultures
  • Cultural studies

Ph.D. Programs in Diversity Studies

These programs focus mainly on multicultural, social and feminist elements, as well as social issues of diverse groups. They use educational and political evaluation methods. The purpose of these programs is to develop insightful professionals who can promote and encourage social justice and the benefits of diversity. Courses focus on modern cultural issues, as well as historical cultural issues. Students conduct research and complete a dissertation in addition to classroom instruction. Common coursework may include:

  • Research methods
  • Social reform and change
  • Teaching critical issues
  • Social justice
  • Gender concepts

Popular Careers

A certificate in diversity studies can be combined with a bachelor's degree to prepare students for a variety of careers working with diverse populations. Certificate programs could benefit those looking to become employed in fields such as:

  • Social service
  • Law enforcement
  • Education
  • Business

With a master's degree in diversity studies, an individual may choose from career options in the following areas:

  • Public policy
  • Management
  • Writing
  • Law
  • Social service
  • Education

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A Ph.D. in Diversity Studies program provides the necessary training for individuals looking to become involved in research or education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2018, the median annual salary of a postsecondary ethnic and cultural studies teacher was $74,440 ( The BLS projected job growth of 11%, faster than the average for all occupations, for postsecondary teachers from 2018-2028.

Training in this degree program may be ideal for those seeking work in nonprofit organizations, as well as governmental organizations. Policy and research institutes may also benefit from an individual with the skills gained in a doctoral degree program.

A master's or Ph.D. program in diversity studies provides students with knowledge of topics related to gender, social inequality and political theories, which prepares graduates to work in research or teaching. Certificate programs provide fundamental knowledge of diversity, language, culture and religion, and allows completed credits to be applied to degree programs.

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