B.A. in Intercultural Studies
In today’s globalized world, the ability to understand and navigate cultural differences is an increasingly valuable skill. Biola’s intercultural studies major gives you the academic tools and training you’ll need to thrive in diverse, cross-cultural settings — whether you’re called to international development, health care, missions, business, education or any number of other careers. 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.
- Church Planting and Pioneer MissionsPart of the Great Commission involves empowering churches and individuals around the world to share the gospel and engage in discipleship. In Church Planting and Pioneer Missions, you can learn about effective evangelism, discipleship, church planting models and strategies, spiritual conflicts in cross-cultural contexts and more.
- 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 AnthropologyCultural humility and knowledge of societal functioning are key to solving real-world problems and influencing social conditions. In the Cultural 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.
- 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.
- Islamic StudiesMuslims are the world's fastest-growing religious group — making the ability to understand their diversity essential to being a good coworker, neighbor and witness. In the Islamic Studies concentration, students will explore the intricacies of the Qur’an and Islamic culture in courses such as Islamic Theology and Islam in the West.
- MissiologyUnderstanding how missions was 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.
- 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.
- Urban MinistryUrban areas are hubs of culture, but they also come with unique challenges. By studying urban research, urban ministry models and urban transformation, students pursuing an Urban Ministry concentration are equipped to respond to the needs and issues prevalent within cities and leave a lasting impact on urban communities.
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 around the world. Every intercultural studies student is required to complete a cross-cultural or overseas learning experience, ensuring that you get valuable experience.
- 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 two academic journals.
- 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 perspectives and experience from around the world. 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
- Concepts in the scientific study of language
- Exploring the cross-cultural transition process
- Applying grace to self and others
- Field internship opportunities
My professors challenged me academically but many of them were also there to pray with me and meet for counseling and listening.
Intercultural Studies, B.A. '10
... ICS helped expand my experience with Jesus, seeing Him as restorer, healer, seer.
Intercultural Studies, B.A. '11
I am daily utilizing the tools I learned, and the themes were life-changing for me.
Intercultural Studies, B.A. '09
Going to Biola, no matter what your degree, will give you a huge opportunity to live your life holistically for Christ no matter what you do.
Intercultural Studies, B.A. '12
The Intercultural Studies program will help better equip you especially for cross-cultural ministry, but also for understanding and connecting with people of other cultures.
Intercultural Studies, B.A. '11
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
- Cross-cultural evangelist or missionary
- Cultural anthropologist
- Director of church missions
- English language educator
- Ethnic and urban ministry director
- International news correspondent
- Political analyst
- Public affairs executive
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.