Asian Americans have been in North America for far longer than many people believe. Among the first ones to set foot on North American soil were called “Luzonians” (1857), as they were from the island of Luzon in the Philippines.
Since then many Asians have followed, although their numbers haven’t risen significantly. Currently, they only comprise 4.8% of the US population. They also don’t often marry people from other racial backgrounds, as people with at least one Asian American parent make up only 5.6% of the population.
Yet despite their unmistakable minority status, they are often the racial demographic with the highest educational level, and the highest median household and personal income.
Many try to understand this phenomenon at a deeper level by entering Asian American Studies program in college. A Bachelor’s Degree in Asian American Studies is a rather broad discipline, which incorporates many particular aspects of the humanities and social sciences.
This program is an exploration of the Asian American social and cultural experience using modern and historical perspectives. All aspects of culture and history are examined carefully, including politics, immigration, gender relations, religion, and particular arts such as film and literature.
Many programs focus on the humanities, and courses often tackle Asian American religions, literature, history, and culture. Other courses may include comparative studies, politics, urban policy, social planning, and Asian American communities.
Sometimes Asian American Studies is the specific focus of a program, although in other cases it is a part of an even broader discipline like intercultural or Asian Studies.
Many graduates consider employment in the PR departments of private firms, especially with companies which deal with significant numbers of Asian American clients and customers. Others go into business, often in a field where Asian American customers are also common. The deeper understand of Asian American attitudes and beliefs often help in the design and marketing of various products and services geared mostly towards Asian Americans.
Some work for government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Aside from social work, others gravitate towards research or public policy. Some become lobbyists for Asian American rights or Asian American companies.
Social workers with a degree in Asian American Studies can look forward to a 19% increase in the number of job opportunities from 2012 to 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2013 average salary of social workers was $48,370.
On the other hand, public relations specialists earned an average salary of $54,170 per year in 2012.
Best Schools for an Asian American Studies Degree
Many excellent schools offer undergraduate programs on Asian American Studies. The top schools include Stanford University, Pomona College, University of California Berkeley (UCB), University of Southern California (USC), and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Rounding up the list of the top 10 are New York University (NYU), University of California Davis, University of California Santa Barbara, Smith College, and Scripps College.
Asian American Studies is also offered in Cornell, Northwestern, Columbia, and University of Pennsylvania.