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Why Ethnic Studies?

There are multiple applications to a major or minor degree in Ethnic Studies; including preparation for: careers in education, government and community organizations; entrance to professional schools in areas such as law, social work and health; and for graduate studies in all areas of the arts and sciences. 

Through our course offerings, students develop not only a greater understanding of the legacy of racism, discrimination, and injustices in the United States, but also a greater appreciation for new and emerging knowledge about diverse American peoples and their global and transnational connections.

Students who enroll will put themselves at the crossroads of innovative theory and exciting interdisciplinary and comparative research that asks the following questions:

  • How do social hierarchies frame access to political power, allocate economic resources, and influence cultural expression?
  • How do practices of representation and performance create knowledge of racial, ethnic, and gender differences?
  • How do the sciences and technology influence the meanings of racial, ethnic, class, and gender differences?
  • What are the best policies and practices for addressing the realities of racial discrimination and social inequality?

Additionally, community-based learning courses offer students a space to acquire knowledge and propose projects that address the lived realities of racial discrimination and social inequality, and emerging American identities and their global connections, through "hands-on" experiences with local and virtual communities.

The knowledge and critical thinking skills developed and sustained with an Ethnic Studies degree have taken our graduates to all corners of the professional world.  Take a peek at our Alumni Spotlight to get an idea of the myriad of ways our graduates are using their degrees.

For additional information about what you can do with an Ethnic Studies degree at Cal Poly, contact Career Services at Cal Poly or visit the What Can I Do With This Major? website.






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