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Area Studies Overview

  Africana, East Asian, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies offer the unique opportunity to focus on the diversities of foreign regions and their relationships to the United States. In your degree process, you will study language, political economy, sociology, literature, history, philosophy, art, ancient records, current issues, and many other subjects important to the intellectual and cultural community of various countries, ranging anywhere from Korea to Guatemala to modern day Egypt. You will form critical perspectives on foreign nations and their role in the modern world. An understanding of the commonalities and contrasts of different cultures and countries is essential to each of these majors, and the worldly perspective you will gain in these programs will be an intricate part of understanding your own culture and your future perspectives.

Africana Studies

As an Africana Studies major you will pursue broad inquiry into the ideas and experiences of African peoples throughout the world. The interdisciplinary approach is organized around three major sub-fields:

  • African studies
  • African-American studies
  • Studies of the African Diaspora

  You will have the opportunity to explore diverse academic disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and public health. Through research, coursework, and public programs, an Africana Studies major seeks to promote fundamental examination and understanding of the commonalities and contrasts among the historical and contemporary experiences of Africans and African Americans, and of the place of Africana diasporas in both local and global contexts.

  Your studies will strive to understand the movement of black peoples from their ancestral homelands to a variety of host lands, as well as expand upon Black Studies research to raise new inquiries into all aspects of African-American experiences, all the while building upon existing Krieger School strengths in the study of Africa.

East Asian Studies

  The East Asian Studies major is interdisciplinary and interdepartmental. Its primary purpose is to introduce undergraduates to the knowledge, language skills, and research methods they will need to enter various specialized professional paths relating to China, Japan, and Korea, including but not limited to advanced academic research. Under the supervision of an adviser drawn from the Committee on East Asian Studies, students create an individualized program of study.

Latin American Studies (PLAS)

  As a Latin American Studies major, you will seek an understanding of the histories, cultures, societies and politics of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. PLAS courses enhance the Hopkins curriculum by offering students an opportunity to explore the rich political, aesthetic, intellectual and scientific traditions of Latin America, and by encouraging critical perspectives on Latin America's history and role in the modern world. Workshops by PLAS- affiliated faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellow complement the curriculum with discussions of current events and ongoing research projects. Your degree will require you to take an active interest in Latin America through course work and extracurricular life, and by engaging other disciplinary and area interests through summer research and study abroad programs in Latin America.

Near Eastern Studies

  The Ancient Near East is where history begins. It is where the first crops were sown, the first towns built, and where writing was first invented.

  The origins of Western culture are to be found in its great civilizations, from the three great monotheistic religions - Christianity, Islam, and Judaism - to everyday aspects of our life that we take for granted, such as the alphabet and marking time by hours and minutes. The Near Eastern Studies major can be the focal point of a broad liberal arts education, as well as a basis for graduate study. As a Near Eastern Studies major, you can study the civilizations of the ancient Near East in general or specialize in one of the four main areas: Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures (including Biblical Studies), Egyptology, Assyriology, and Near Eastern Archaeology. You can also major in ancient history, in conjunction with courses in other departments.

  The Near Eastern Studies approach is to study ancient Near Eastern civilizations with modern tools of analysis (literary, legal, anthropological, etc.), using the ancient written records and physical evidence as data. The study of language and script forms a major part of your degree, with an emphasis on gaining ability to access sources in the original. The archaeology program also has a substantial language requirement.

  Written records and physical evidence can only be understood in context, which includes their cultural and historical background and their relationship with the surrounding cultures. As a Near Eastern Studies major, your coursework emphasizes an integrated approach to the civilizations of the region. They consist of a major area of concentration, a minor from another area (usually a language), and a series of history seminars covering all three principal sub-regions: Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria-Palestine.

For further information on specific area studies programs, visit the department pages

Degree Options

  • Undergraduate:
    • B.A. in Africana Studies
    • B.A. in East Asian Studies
    • B.A. in Latin American Studies
    • B.A. in Near Eastern Studies
  • Graduate:
    • There are various graduate programs at JHU where students use their degree from an Area Studies program as the basis for their M.A. and PhD. Check with your department and advisors for guidance on the graduate programs offered at JHU.

Area Studies Career Options

Career Paths for Africana, East Asian, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies Majors

  There are many possible professions and career paths for Area Studies majors. The ability to speak multiple languages can lead to positions all over the world. In addition, with your research and knowledge of a specific culture you can search for positions that work closely with companies, organizations, and/or people from cultures you studied in your program. Your interest and experience through your degree can also lead to professions in various other entities such as journalism, consulting, NGOs, Government, and/or economics. As an Africana, East Asian, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies major, you can explore the industry that best represents your career goals and interests.

Industry Application of Area Studies Majors

Area Studies Career Prep

Internships and Research Experiences

  To be competitive in today’s job market, it is important you apply the knowledge gained from your coursework to the workplace. Employers value the academic preparation Johns Hopkins University provides, but they want to see your ability to employ knowledge outside the classroom. Internships in professional work environments are an excellent way to apply the knowledge you will obtain through your Area Studies program. To learn more about internships, consult the Career Center here.

  Research experience also provides opportunities to showcase your transference of skills from coursework to the workforce. Area Studies programs provide the opportunity to conduct research in foreign countries. Africana Studies and Latin American studies, for example, offer scholarships, funding and grants to students hoping to complete research projects in foreign countries and/or in the United States.

  For more information on how to obtain scholarships for research, speak with your advisor and/or visit your department’s website for further details.

Extracurricular and Volunteer Activities

  Employers want to see your leadership skills and ability to work on a team. Involvement in extracurricular and volunteer activities is the most effective way to develop and hone these skills. Studying abroad is a valuable extracurricular activity for an African Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Near Eastern Studies major. Through study abroad programs, you have the unique opportunity to study foreign language and subjects in a country of your choice. Full emersion into a foreign country provides you with unlimited opportunities to practice and perfect another language. In addition, you will gain a vast understanding of cultural practices, differences, and expectations, which will provide excellent insight to your own culture and your possible career interests. Meet with your Career Counselor and/or Academic Advisor for more information on volunteer opportunities, extracurricular activities, and study abroad programs.

Develop Skills and Abilities Associated with Area Studies

  As a John Hopkins student, you will acquire a plethora of skills transferable to your career path. Listed below are skills you will learn as an Africana, East Asian, Latin American, and Near Eastern Studies major.

  • Communication
    • Speak foreign languages and listen with objectivity and paraphrase the content of a message
    • Communicate between cultures with sensitivity to people and problems
    • Speak effectively to individuals and groups
    • Developing appreciation for racial and class differences and perspectives
    • Use various media to present ideas imaginatively
    • Express one’s needs, wants, opinions and preferences without offending sensitivities of others
    • Analyze behavior of self and others in group situations
  • Work Independently (Initiative)
    • Set realistic goals
    • Maintain deadlines and manage time effectively
    • Accommodate multiple demands for commitment of time, energy and resources
    • Match knowledge about one’s own characteristics/abilities to information about career opportunities
  • Organization and Accuracy
    • Identify a general principle that explains interrelated experiences or factual data
    • Apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks
    • Predict future trends and patterns
  • Critical Thinking/Analytical Skills
    • Analyze texts, artworks, and writings
    • Compare translations and interpretations
    • Form new perspectives based on historical situations
    • Create innovative solutions for complex problems
    • Analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives
    • Relate historical events and documents to present-day situations
    • Assess a course of action in terms of its long-range effects on the general human welfare
    • Make decisions that will maximize both individual and collective good
    • Appreciate the contributions of art, literature, science and technology to contemporary society
  • Research and Investigation
    • Ability to gather and synthesize information from original sources in various fields (philosophy, art, music, natural sciences)
    • Use a variety of sources of information
    • Identify information sources appropriate to special needs or problems
    • Formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic or issue

  Additional skills may be applicable depending on what career path you choose. Schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor to discuss the skills necessary for your individual career plan.

Area Studies Alumni

  Area Studies graduates from John Hopkins University go into a variety of fields. Since 2003, the Career Center has surveyed recent graduates about their academic and career plans six months after graduation. Here are summaries of their responses:

Listed below are actual job titles that JHU alumni acquired with their degree in an Area Studies program:

  • Business Development Coordinator
  • Consultant, Int’l Trade Team
  • Data Quality Controller
  • Democracy Specialist
  • Economist
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Fund Manager
  • Government Analyst-Intelligence
  • Graduate Student
  • Lawyer
  • Librarian Manager
  • Physician
  • Portfolio Specialist
  • Professor: International Relations
  • Senior Financial Analyst

Additional Alumni Profiles

    Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.

    For more information on what you can do with an Area Studies Major go to What can I do with a major in Africana, East Asian, Latin American, or Near Eastern Studies?.

    Want to know more? Read our Hopkins Career Profiles on Consulting, Public Policy, Law & Paralegal, Medicine, Journalism, and Teaching. If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.

  LinkedIn.com - a professional networking site where you can identify Hopkins alumni. Join the LinkedIn Johns Hopkins University Alumni Group to add over 4000+ alumni to your network.

Area Studies Grad School

  The Career Center is here to help you navigate the graduate school search process. Click here for guidelines and preparing for Graduate School and Professional School.

  For information on the specific programs, the best people to talk to are the experts in your field you wish to study, faculty members and graduate students in that specific discipline. We strongly encourage you to talk with your advisor and other faculty members with whom you have a good working relationship. This will also help when you request letters of recommendation. The Career Center has a handout to guide you in asking for letters of recommendation.

Area Studies Societies

  Involvement with professional associations is a great way to further explore your potential career paths as an Area Studies major. These groups will not only provide materials and further resources to help you make your career decision, but they also provide essential networking benefits. In addition, many professional associations have student chapters at JHU.

Professional Associations:

Student Associations at JHU:

Area Studies Links