Major in Intercultural Studies

Become a global Christian • Study other cultures • Impact the world

Learn how to engage with the world.

In the intercultural studies major, you learn the value of being a global Christian and appreciate various dimensions of culture. At JBU, you have the opportunity to experience a diverse community on campus and in the surrounding Siloam Springs and Northwest Arkansas area. You can choose between three concentrations in preparation for your career.

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Engage the world

Intercultural studies students get the chance to experience other cultures first-hand through the cultural diversity in our own community, including Hmong, Hispanic, Somali and refugees from numerous locations. 

Expand your worldview

Students will understand how their story connects with God's story for the nations. They learn to approach and engage other cultures with an inquisitive and humble attitude, decentering their own worldview to see the world through the eyes of others.

Choose your emphasis

In the intercultural studies major, students choose one of three emphases to specialize their skillset for when they graduate. Concentrations include community development, intercultural ministries and international studies.

Grow in your global understanding at JBU.

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Choose an emphasis

Community development

The community development emphasis offers students both on-campus and off-campus tracks. In the on-campus track, students take classes focused on community development and formation. In the off-campus track, students have the opportunity to spend four weeks in May at the Institute for Biblical Community Development.

Intercultural ministries

The intercultural ministries emphasis is for those who want to go into global missions or minister among those of different cultural backgrounds. In this emphasis, students choose three of the following five classes: discipleship & evangelism, intercultural leadership skills, community development, human formation and ministry, and preaching & teaching.

International studies

The international studies emphasis is best for students considering work in journalism, at foreign embassies, or in other international environments. In this emphasis, students choose three of the following five classes: intercultural leadership skills, 20th century world history, international relations, the modern Middle East, and African civilization since 1850.

What to expect as an intercultural studies student at JBU

Conduct original research

Conduct a senior qualitative research project of your own design. After learning about research methods and conducting a review of the relevant academic literature, collect data from research participants about their meanings, experiences, and perceptions relating to your topic. Finally, analyze your findings and tease out implications, before presenting your conclusions.


Experience community

Be part of a cohort of classmates who are passionate about the world's peoples and cultures. Participate in a variety of community events, such as the ICS Christmas party, the Bible division retreat, the Intercultural Film Festival, and the graduation/towel ceremony.

Intercultural Film Festival

Add a major

Combine the cultural knowledge and relational skills learned in Intercultural Studies with other majors, such as Spanish, family & human services, photography, biology, English, psychology, history and many others. ICS requires a minor, but we encourage (and enable) double majoring as a way to broaden your impact.

Following my studies at JBU, I worked for an international nonprofit in Myanmar that operated development programs in health, counter-trafficking, clean water, and livelihoods. I spent my time collecting stories, designing donor communication materials, and writing grants. The courses in the ICS program equipped me with the skills to not only work and communicate in a cross-cultural setting but to capture and share people's stories in a culturally-sensitive, dignifying way.

Liz Meyer '18

What can you do with an intercultural studies degree?

Students in the intercultural studies department engage with various types of ministry to help identify what field they would like to work in. 

Community development worker

Community development workers focus on how to help specific communities improve in certain areas. Workers may be involved in agricultural development and water purifying techniques for rural communities or they may work at a church and be responsible for fostering the local community.


ICS equips students to effectively engage in the world for Jesus Christ. Overseas ministry involves living and working with individuals from different cultures. ICS teaches you how to humbly engage with and learn from those of other cultures as you minister to them.

Cultural anthropologist

Cultural anthropologists study, research and write about culture. Anthropologists are interested in how people create culture, the role culture plays in the human experience, and the specific aspects of various cultures. ICS lays the groundwork for further studies in cultural anthropology by introducing students to various aspects of cultural engagement, qualitative research and anthropological theory.

Qualitative researcher

Intercultural studies encourages an investigative mindset through practicing qualitative research. Senior ICS majors conduct a qualitative research project of their own design, learning the aspects and practical implications of qualitative research. Qualitative research focuses on finding the meaning and motivations of people through stories, interviews and archival research.

Through my classes in ICS, Reconciliation Studies, and Psychology, I have become at peace with being uncomfortable. Sometimes it's scary and uncomfortable to grow and it's hard to come face to face with my own shortcomings, but the Lord has definitely been shaping and molding me in ways that I would never have imagined through all JBU has to offer.

Katrina Reimer

Intercultural Studies, '23

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