The field of Ethnic Studies was born out of, and is dedicated to, struggles for social justice for all people.
By examining how race and the interrelated categories of ethnicity, gender, class, indigeneity and sexuality impact the lives of people, the Department of Ethnic Studies encourages students to look at their inherited/political/social/cultural positions in society to create a new social reality in an ever-changing global society.
I work for one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the U.S. I use my degree every single day."
— Cara McKinley, vice president for advocacy and strategic initiative at the National Urban League (BA 2005)
The Department of Ethnic Studies is one of a kind—literally. It is one of only four programs in the United States that offer a PhD in Ethnic Studies. In addition, the department's faculty have received a number of accolades through their work, including a Distinguished Scholar Award by the American Society of Criminology, an Ida B. Wells, Outstanding Community Service Award from the National Association of Colored People (NAACP), an Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation, and multiple fellowships with prestigious organizations, along with a number of teaching awards.
Altogether, these factors have promoted an environment of excellence and demand, leading the ethnic studies major to be ranked eighth in the nation by Universities.com.
The Department of Ethnic Studies was created out of a desire to initiate and promote interdisciplinary research and teaching by providing the flexibility for students to pursue their individual research interests in Africana or African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies and Chicana/o Studies.
Their diverse faculty also include several who work across disciplines, in areas such as Sociology, Women and Gender Studies and Education (through the School of Education).
For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in ethnic studies, there are a number of research opportunities beyond just class work:
The ethnic studies major provides a broad liberal arts education with skills in critical thinking, comparative analysis, social theory, data gathering and analysis, and oral and written expression. These skills, coupled with its emphasis on diversity make the ethnic studies degree particularly useful for the coming century. It provides you with appropriate training for fields such as law, education, medicine, public health, social work, journalism, business, urban planning, politics, counseling, international relations, and creative writing, as well as university teaching and research.
Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation.
Most ethnic studies majors do not directly correlate to specific occupations, but many pursue careers in education (both K-12 and post-secondary), clinical, career or academic counseling, law, journalism, social work, community development and organizing, and more, according to the University of California Berkeley.
According to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:
At CU Boulder, Ethnic Studies graduates earn more than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $82,140, based on a pool of 125 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018. This amount, however, is lower than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during the same stretch.
The Department of Ethnic Studies has an extensive alumni network working in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include: