B.A. in Intercultural Studies
In today’s globalized and hyper-interconnected world, the ability to understand and navigate cultural differences is an increasingly valuable skill. Biola’s intercultural studies major prepares students to become change-makers to address global issues in multicultural societies and multinational workforces. Be equipped with the academic tools and training you’ll need to thrive in diverse, cross-cultural settings with openness and respect — whether you’re called to international development, health care, missions, business, media, technology, education or any number of other careers, you will be prepared to effectively bring intercultural competence to the workplace.
The program is innovative and flexible, allowing you to complete up to two concentrations from the options below — offering a unique blend of specializations that match your interests and career goals.
Note: For current students not in the B.A. in Intercultural Studies program, learn how you can earn digital badges — and gain specialized skills for your career. Visit biola.edu/cook/academics/digital-badges.
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- Additional EmphasesStudents may select one of the four emphases below which reflect a variety of options in the discipline: Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology; International and Community Development; Missions; or Peace, Justice, and Intercultural Conflict Transformation.
- Cross-Cultural HealthcareCultural competence and humility are integral to providing effective overseas health services. By training in international development and global health perspectives, students pursuing the Cross-Cultural Healthcare concentration are practically equipped to serve anywhere in the world. Coursework includes further specialization in "Living Overseas," "Priorities" or "Communication."
- Cultural and Linguistic AnthropologyCultural humility and knowledge of societal functioning are key to solving real-world problems and influencing social conditions. In the Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology concentration, students will develop a strong understanding of cultural change, diverse worldviews, and subsystems of cultures and of social organization — empowering them to engage in community development, social justice activism and action and culturally relevant product or service design.
A personalized interdisciplinary concentration may be designed by the student and the student’s advisor. Popular concentrations include: international business, teaching (elementary or secondary education), cross-cultural family studies, intercultural journalism and psychology, among others.
- International Business
- Early Childhood Education
- Cross-Cultural Family Studies
- Intercultural Journalism
- Interdisciplinary EducationTeachers that engage cultural differences will create classrooms enriched by their diversity. That's why the Interdisciplinary Education concentration integrates coursework from Biola's School of Education, empowering students to begin earning a California teaching credential. In addition to working in culturally diverse Southern California, students are equipped to teach around the world.
- International and Community DevelopmentCreating effective impact requires cultural sensitivity and an understanding of poverty, marginalization, and disempowerment. In International and Community Development, students explore these issues and learn how to promote stakeholder participation and collaboration as well as social sustainability in various development interventions. Course options include Introduction to Development, Community Development Models and Strategies, Micro-Issues in Relief and Development, and Project Evaluation and Assessment.
- MissiologyUnderstanding how missions were done in the past and translating that into implementation in today's world is integral for its continued advancement. In the Missiology concentration, students take courses such as History of the Expansion of Christianity and Principles of Evangelism and Church Growth — becoming equipped for a lifetime of helping others come to know Christ.
- Peace, Justice and Intercultural Conflict TransformationThe Peace, Justice and Intercultural Conflict Transformation concentration equips students with the unique tools for advocacy that they will need to effectively engage in integral mission marked by both the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel to the "lost," the "least" and the "last.” Coursework encourages participants to carefully consider how our proclamation has social consequences and our social involvement has evangelistic consequences.
- TESOLTeaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is a field that offers the opportunity to teach in the United States and around the world. In the TESOL concentration, students will learn practical skills related to methods, materials, grammar, intercultural communication, ethics and values in TESOL and more — becoming equipped for a meaningful career and ministry.
Why Choose Intercultural Studies at Biola?
In addition to its strong curriculum, expert faculty members and biblical integration, Biola’s intercultural studies program offers several key advantages:
- Classes require you to engage in the wider context outside Biola, culminating in a summer internship with one of many agencies at home or around the world. Every intercultural studies student is required to complete a six-week cross-cultural internship program to help them explore their career paths and develop relationships with potential employers.
- Throughout the program, you’ll apply what you're learning in real-world contexts through partnerships with local agencies and communities. This program is action-oriented, practical, inquisitive and effective in building change agents to improve the human condition.
- Biola offers a wide range of study abroad programs from which to choose.
- Biola’s annual Missions Conference, hosted by the Student Missionary Union, is the oldest and largest student-run missions conference in the United States.
- Biola’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies has a strong academic reputation, bolstered by its role in publishing an academic journal.
- Intercultural studies graduates are able to move directly into several graduate programs — including an accelerated 12-month M.A. in intercultural studies — at Biola’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies, one of the largest schools of its kind.
- Cook’s faculty is one of the largest in the country for an undergraduate intercultural studies program and they bring depth in their areas of expertise, specializing in global regions including Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. You’ll learn in an environment supported by experienced, engaged faculty mentors.
- Biola’s location in Southern California — one of the world’s largest and most diverse metropolitan areas — is ideal for internships, field research and job opportunities.
What Will I Study?
Throughout the intercultural studies program, you will have numerous hands-on learning opportunities to give you deeper insight into cross-cultural communication. Coursework will focus on studying people groups and cultures, understanding linguistic and cultural diversity, and developing meaningful relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. Course highlights include:
- The nature of people in culture
- Subsystems of cultures, including religion and language
- Overview of global realities
- International and intercultural ministry issues
- Intercultural communication skills
- Exploring the cross-cultural transition process
- Applying grace to self and others
- Field internship opportunities
I have benefited tremendously from my education in Intercultural Studies. Intercultural Studies prepared me to thoughtfully consider the complexities involved in engaging with those of a different culture. Each day, I work with individuals from all over the country and world. Being equipped with tools to consider others’ worldviews has allowed me to communicate more effectively and cultivate healthier team dynamics. Soon, I will be going overseas and feel well-prepared to acclimate to a new culture, communicate effectively with a multicultural team, and share the gospel in a culturally relevant manner.
As I’m doing business, I recognize more and more the gaps in communication in international business that I can now thoroughly fill because of the way I was prepared through the ICS to foster connection across cultures.
The cultural awareness and interpersonal skills I gained in my Intercultural studies have been vital to my everyday work in advising humanitarian workers and assessing the security dynamics in the various countries they serve in.
A degree in intercultural studies provides exceptional preparation for ministry and careers in all levels of news media, education, diplomacy and humanitarian organizations. You can expect to impact the world for Jesus Christ through professions such as:
- Administrator of international education
- Community Relations Specialist
- Cross-cultural evangelist or missionary
- Cultural anthropologist
- Director of church missions
- Diversity Management
- English language educator
- Ethnic and urban ministry director
- Foreign relations/service officer
- Human Resources recruiter
- Human rights officer
- Intercultural and diversity trainer
- Intercultural marketer
- International corporate representative
- International education advisor
- International news correspondent
- Media advisor
- Migration analyst/researcher
- Political analyst
- Project facilitator/coordinator
- Public affairs executive
- Refugee Counselor
- Sales management
- Social and human resources provider
- Travel industry representative
What are Graduates Doing Now?
Biola graduates from the intercultural studies major have gone on to study at such distinguished graduate schools as:
Stanford University; Yale University; Vanderbilt University; University of Southern California; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Davis; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Denver; University of Washington; Wheaton College; Fuller Seminary; Talbot School of Theology; and Dallas Theological Seminary.