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Top Schools with Area Studies Programs

Learn about degree programs in area studies, which can provide students with a global or regional perspective on culture, language and politics. Read brief summaries of four university programs, and find a list that highlights what's unique to other schools that offer area studies.

Many universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in area studies, including programs focused on Africa, Asia or the Middle East, among other regions of the world.

School Overview

The four high-ranking universities below include two schools in California and two in Massachusetts. All of these schools were ranked among the top 40 national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

The University of California in Berkeley, CA

School Highlight: International and Area studies provides interested students with the opportunity to learn about global issues in an intellectual environment.

The International and Area Studies program offers six undergraduate majors and five undergraduate minors. These include peace and conflict, Latin American, Asian and Middle Eastern studies. Three Master of Arts degrees are available, including international and area, Asian and Latin American studies. Students should be aware in advance that UC Berkeley is a highly selective institution that accepts just 17.5% of all applicants.

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

School Highlight: Harvard began a relationship with China's Yenching University in 1928, creating a partnership between universities and helped broker the ongoing study of China for further generations to come.

Harvard offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in East Asian and African studies, among other areas. Research opportunities are available through the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, which is a part of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

University of California, Los Angeles, CA

School Highlight: The International Institute at UCLA provides a plethora of multidisciplinary centers and programs that enlighten students about the major regions of the world.

The UCLA International Institute offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. Undergraduate programs include African and Islamic studies, in addition to areas of study on Global Health, Global Studies and International Development Studies. Graduate students can also pursue area studies on Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Boston University in Boston, MA

School Highlight: The school offers multiple interdisciplinary programs in area studies.

Students can find bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in area studies at Boston University. BU is also home to the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, which supports both undergraduate and graduate-level training in area studies. Through the Pardee School and the College of Arts and Sciences, students can pursue a major in International Relations with an emphasis in Asian Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies, or Middle Eastern & North African Studies. The Pardee School also offers minors in each of these subjects, as well as African Language & Literatures, African Studies, Muslim Societies and Muslim Cultures. At the graduate level, the Pardee School offers nine graduate degrees and two certificate programs in subjects such as International Relations & Religion and Latin American Studies, among others.

Top Area Studies Programs

Here are a few more schools with strong offerings in area studies:

  • Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH, offers study abroad opportunities in Mexico, China and France, among other locations.
  • Stanford University in Stanford, CA, is home to the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.
  • At Villanova University in Villanova, PA, the Institute of Global Interdisciplinary Studies offers internships.
  • At Washington University in St. Louis, located in St. Louis, MO, fellowships are available for undergraduate and graduate students looking to engage in research projects.
  • Yale University in New Haven, CT, offers the Fox International Fellowship Program, an exchange program between Yale and 19 universities in major world capitals.

Overall, there are top-ranked universities around the country that provide broad, interdisciplinary educational opportunities in area studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

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