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What in the World is a Global Studies Major?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

When applying to colleges last year, I was admittedly at a loss. I didn’t know what direction I’d like to take, and I didn’t want to constrict myself to a major that I wasn’t sure of. In the end, I chose a Global Studies major. Since then, it’s proven to be a very versatile and flexible major. Truly, it was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. I think global studies has been flying under the radar, a bit underrated, and widely underrepresented at UCSB. Here’s my attempt to change that!

Since prospective students, newly admitted freshman, and current students alike might be interested in exploring this major, I’d like to share my experience as a first-year Global Studies student and the potential opportunities it’s created for my future. If you’re unsatisfied with your current major or just lost like I was, I hope my gratitude for choosing Global Studies gives you some direction or another option to consider.

What is global studies?

To start, Global Studies focuses heavily on history classes but also has crossovers with economics, sociology, and political science courses. The main goal is to gain an understanding of the ever-evolving process of globalization. It studies the scale of influence that organizations, both business and international, have over societal dynamics. This may sound like a mouthful, but because of its broad approach, there are a multitude of niche interests within it.

If you’re into finance, there’s international trade and markets. If you prefer anthropology, there are languages and regional histories to analyze. Even STEM is related! Global health and the impacts of IT on international affairs are increasingly complex topics. Global studies are truly what you make of them. Personally, in my future, I’d like to become a lawyer and dig deeper into legal policies related to foreign relations. As an undecided student, I got the chance to try out a little bit of everything, allowing me to settle on law and diplomacy. I feel so relieved to know that I have a plan for myself, and that Global Studies will set me up for it. If I end up switching gears, Global Studies is prepared for that too! I might find myself on an international business track instead of law. Either way, I’ll have the knowledge and skills to help me navigate these fields.

Whenever I tell people I study Global Studies, I guarantee 90% of the time they’ll follow up with the question “what is it?” But you know what? I’m all about it. It’s like having a never-ending conversation starter in my back pocket. And the best part is that there are so many angles to approach it from that I never tire of explaining. It not only makes for a more engaging introduction but lets me tailor my explanation to whoever’s asking, making it relatable and interesting for them. The conversation doesn’t come to an awkward end after “what’s your major” and helps build important connection.

What Can i do with it?

Due to its broad nature, I’ve taken courses in European history, philosophy, languages, and more. This major has allowed me to sort out what I truly enjoy and what I wouldn’t see myself pursuing. If anything, global studies has been a great starting point that’s sifted through my interests. It’s also a very compatible double major. Many of the courses and requirements align well with a Political Science, Sociology, History of Public Policy and Law, and Anthropology major. Because of this, even if you’re fully set on your current major, Global Studies could be an extension of your studies.

I imagine that most people might shy away from Global Studies at UCSB because of the language requirement. But as the Her Campus UCSB article, Take a Foreign Language Class at UCSB, points out, future employers value multilingual candidates. I’m currently taking French, and while this language is daunting, the UCSB French and Italian Department sets up the course to support you. With small class sizes of about 20–30 students, participation is encouraged, and close guidance from instructors is guaranteed. Also, c’est amusant!

Genuinely, there are so many benefits to a Global Studies degree. You can travel, study an interdisciplinary track, and immerse yourself in different cultures! But of course, it’s not limited to working abroad, as it allows you to gain experience in a wide range of topics, allowing you to diversify your career options. Being a global citizen is increasingly valued by employers, and being able to navigate both the social and economic spheres is a commodity that sets you apart!

Hi! I'm Margot, a first-year student majoring in Global Studies at UCSB. I grew up in New Jersey but later moved to the Seattle area (bless Santa Barbara for saving me from all those rainy days). I'm an editorial intern but when I'm not writing for Her Campus, I like to eat good food, read, and make pottery or scrapbooks.