Cultural Studies (BA)

This program is not accepting applications for new students at this time.
Please contact an admissions counselor for more information.

It’s the best of both worlds: a traditional liberal arts education with full-time faculty and accomplished scholars within the context of an urban arts and media environment that is uniquely Columbia. As a Cultural Studies student, you’ll examine how race, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, and more affect the power structures that inform contemporary culture, and you’ll look at arts and communications through an entirely new lens.

Offering courses that address a range of theoretical, historical, and methodological issues, the Cultural Studies BA program prepares you to engage meaningfully with art and culture. You’ll enjoy dynamic classroom settings, work one-on-one with published scholars, and meet with national and international leaders in a variety of intellectual disciplines.

With a focus on critical thinking, this unique program fosters awareness of the world around us and prepares you to pursue graduate and professional studies, as well as a broad range of careers in commercial, nonprofit, and government sectors, including; arts administration, public relations, community engagement, and secondary and post-secondary education. In the program, you’ll delve into a specialized concentration of your choice: literary studies, media and popular cultural studies, or urban studies.

You'll choose from one of three concentrations:

  • Literary Studies: You’ll explore the traditions of imaginative literature and investigate ways in which literature affects and is affected by important cultural and political issues, both nationally and internationally.  
  • Media and Popular Culture Studies: You’ll explore the driving forces of media and popular culture, including visual representations, media and literary texts, consumer culture and other aspects of popular culture and everyday life.
  • Urban Studies: You’ll explore the role of cities in our increasingly urbanized planet, combining academic approaches with real-world experiences.

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What to Expect

In your first year

In your first year, you’ll take foundational courses that introduce you to the wide-ranging field of cultural studies. You’ll also begin exploring the three concentrations as you determine your area of focus for the rest of your degree program. In addition, you’ll take several classes as part of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum.

In your last year

In your last year of the program, you’ll take a capstone class and create an original thesis-length research project, or an equivalent creative work, which pulls together your experience in the Cultural Studies program. For this project, which you’ll present in a public forum just before graduation, you’ll work with a faculty advisor in your area of interest. You will also have the opportunity to pursue an internship with local, state, and national organizations and institutions.

In addition to these opportunities you’ll take elective classes in areas of your choosing throughout Columbia.


Detailed Program Information


Real World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

At Columbia, learning goes far beyond the classroom. In the Cultural Studies program, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Explore options for studying abroad to immerse yourself in another culture
  • Enjoy the world-class city of Chicago, including its literary and music scenes, which will inform your studies and observations of culture
  • Participate in the plethora of arts and communications organizations around Columbia

What are my internship options?

As a Cultural Studies major, you are encouraged to participate in an internship, which bridges your formal undergraduate education and preparation for future employment or graduate school. From local cultural and non-profit agencies to campus-based organizations, you’ll apply the critical thinking skills you gain in the classroom in a real-world setting.


Complementary Studies

Which minors complement this program?

  • American Sign Language
  • Arts Management
  • Environmental Studies
  • Journalism
  • Professional Writing
  • Public Relations
  • Teaching Artist