Bachelor of Science in Intercultural Studies



120 credit hours

Program Length

as few as 36 months


Accredited by ABHE

Become Equipped to Live and Work in Multicultural Settings with a BS in Intercultural Studies 

CIU’s Bachelor of Science in Intercultural Studies will prepare you with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate a rapidly changing multicultural world. CIU’s thorough and complete program of study equips you for cross-cultural mission work, urban church planting, the non-profit sector, as well as military or international business. Because cultural understanding is becoming more important than ever, CIU’s focus on attaining cultural intelligence, will teach you to communicate effectively across cultures and develop a deeper understanding of cultural complexities, all from a gospel-centered biblical worldview. Throughout the program, you will take courses in a range of subjects, including understanding cultures and worldviews, world religions, biblical theology of mission and cross-cultural communication. Additionally, you will have the option to take specialized electives in subjects such as church planting, Islam and the history of global Christianity, allowing you to tailor your education to your specific interests and career goals. By the time you graduate, you will be well-prepared to enter the workforce, equipped with a deep understanding of cultures and the ability to effectively navigate diverse settings. 

Why Choose Columbia International University

At CIU, the Intercultural Studies program is taught by experienced faculty members who have served in various capacities across the world. They bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the classroom, gained from personal experience rather than just textbook learning. These professors have been involved in international business development, spreading the gospel in Muslim nations and other cross-cultural settings. They will work closely with you to help develop your skills in interpreting culture and relating to people from different backgrounds, as well as providing you with the strategies necessary to thrive in cross-cultural settings. You will have the opportunity to learn from their experiences and ask questions to gain insight into how to navigate the complexities of cross-cultural communication. With their guidance, you will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of cultural intelligence and how it can be applied in real-world situations. 

Overall Benefits of the Degree

As a graduate of the Intercultural Studies program, you will have a wide range of career possibilities that can take you all over the world. Here are some potential career paths you can pursue with this degree: 

  • Government: You can work in diplomatic positions at U.S. embassies overseas, representing the United States and promoting understanding between cultures. 
  • Military: As a chaplain, you can provide religious and moral support to military personnel and their families, regardless of their faith tradition. 
  • Church: With a strong foundation in cross-cultural communication and mission work, you can serve as a mission pastor or outreach coordinator, helping your church to engage in meaningful and effective cross-cultural outreach. 
  • Missions: This degree prepares you for a wide variety of positions in mission work, from short-term to long-term missions in any cross-cultural setting anywhere in the world. You can serve as a mission agency office support, a mission mobilizer, a Bible teacher, a church planter, a discipler, an evangelist, a Bible translator or a linguist. 
  • Business: With a focus on understanding and working in diverse cultural contexts, you can pursue entry-level positions in non-governmental organizations or transnational corporations. You can also use your business skills as a tentmaker or in a business as mission capacity overseas. 
  • International Community Development: This degree equips you with the skills necessary to work in community development organizations, using your understanding of diverse cultures to help promote sustainable development and social justice. 

Featured Faculty

Edward L. Smither

Dean, College of Intercultural Studies, Professor of Intercultural Studies and History of Global Christianity

What Will I Study?

In addition to the undergraduate core, here are degree specific-courses you can expect to take:

  • BIB 3613 Acts

    This course is a historical study of the continued ministry of the risen Christ by the Holy Spirit through the early Christian church as God's instrument for witnessing to the Lord Jesus Christ. You will focus on New Testament principles and methods for evangelization and church growth, with attention being given to historical backgrounds and interpretive problems. This course may serve as a New Testament exegetical book study.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 3110 Introduction to World Religions

    This course is an introduction to the broad historical development, philosophical structures, and worldviews of the non-Christian religions. You will explore primal religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese and Japanese religions, and Islam, as well as some of their folk expressions.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 3140 Cultural Anthropology

    In this course, you will study cultural anthropology for the purpose of equipping followers of Christ to be competent interpreters of culture in 21st Century global contexts.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 3220 History of God's Mission

    In this course, you will survey the expansion of Christianity with an emphasis on the cultural and strategic dimensions of its growth. Special attention will be given to factors arising during the post-Reformation era which have influenced the development of Christian missions.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 3300 Biblical Theology of Mission

    You will engage in a comprehensive study of the biblical foundation for mission as it relates to the church's missionary obligation before God to the world in both word and deed. Special attention will be given to exposing you to important issues within evangelical missiology today.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 4110 Intercultural Internship Preparations

    This course is required of Intercultural Studies majors in the semester before the ICS 4930. You will prepare for your internship spiritually, mentally, and logistically. (Approval and registration are required in advance of the internship experience.)

    0.00 credit hours
  • ICS 4720 Contemporary Issues in Missions

    This capstone course in the ICS undergraduate program draws upon visiting speakers on various subjects related to how to effectively live, work, and serve in multicultural settings.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 4930 Intercultural Internship

    This internship is required of Intercultural Studies majors, usually following the junior year (90 hours of course work). During this internship you will integrate guided study and field experience in cross-cultural ministry under an approved program and a CIU faculty mentor. (Approval and registration are required in advance of the internship experience.)

    3.00 credit hours
  • LNG 4475 Introduction to Language Learning

    This course is designed to equip you for success in the independent learning of a language and culture. You will go through a language learning cycle, including: Developing language learning resources, meeting with a language partner, and recording observatons on language, culture, and social interaction. You will also begin to explore linguistics by being introduced to principles involved in the study and analysis of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of any language, with practical application relating to L2 acquisition.

    3.00 credit hours
  • MSD 1210 Foundations for Calling and Work

    In this course, you will explore the biblical and theological foundations for vocation with an eye toward your own future career interests. You will reflect on your chosen major and, as you begin that degree, make a plan toward your future career placement (3).

    3.00 credit hours
  • BIB 3820 Bible for Teachers

    In this course, you will develop a philosophy of Bible teaching and learn to follow a preparation procedure that will ensure that the purpose for which Scripture was given will be accomplished in your own teaching. You will focus specifically on how to plan a Bible curriculum with courses of study, units, and daily lessons, following the pattern of biblical revelation and teaching the biblical material with integrity.

    3.00 credit hours
  • BUS 3800 International Business Practices

    This course will explore the international dimensions of business, including globalization, developing and implementing strategies for international settings, cross-cultural human resource management, governmental relationships and laws, and unique ethical, cultural and legal considerations in international settings. You will learn practical skills necessary to conduct business internationally. International trade, antitrust, and the impact of economic free trade zones will also be studied. (3)

    3.00 credit hours
  • ENG 3530 Literature and Intercultural Studies

    In this course, you will study and practice engaging literature as a tool for effective cross-cultural communication. You will read translated works from other cultures and gain ability in discerning the world-view and values of the culture to which the works belong. You must complete an annotated working bibliography and do an analysis of a significant work from another culture to receive credit.

    3.00 credit hours
For a comprehensive list of courses related to this program visit the Academic Catalog.

Accreditation and Accolades

ABHE (The Association for Biblical Higher Education)
SACSCOC (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)

Top FAQs

What is Intercultural Studies?

Because we live in a globalized, multicultural world, our home culture is just one of many. It’s not “us” and “them” only “us.” We strive to understand and engage with people from other cultures. Intercultural Studies is a multi-disciplinary field that looks at Bible, theology, history of the global church, cultures and worldviews and practical strategies for engaging cross-culturally.

What types of classes do I take in Intercultural Studies?

Because intercultural studies is interdisciplinary, we offer courses in biblical theology of Christian mission, global theology, the history of Christian mission and the global church, understanding cultures and worldviews, cross-cultural communication, world religions and practical courses in evangelism and church planting.

Is Intercultural Studies a missions degree?

Historically, the Intercultural Studies degree trained students for global missions and it still does. However, today the career paths for this degree are broader. Our graduates serve in multicultural environments such as the military, in law enforcement, in business, as teachers in urban and multicultural settings, in nonprofit organizations.

What career opportunities are available to graduates of this program?

Graduates of this program can work in a variety of fields including government, military, church, missions, business and international community development. They can also become mission pastors, outreach coordinators, chaplains, Bible teachers, church planters, linguists and more.

What sets CIU’s Intercultural Studies program apart from other similar programs?

CIU’s Intercultural Studies program is unique because of its faculty who have extensive personal experience serving in cross-cultural settings all over the world. They will help you develop the skills necessary to relate to people cross-culturally and flourish in cross-cultural settings.

What is the typical length of this program?

The Bachelor of Science in Intercultural Studies degree is typically a four-year program, although the length of the program may vary depending on factors such as course load and transfer credits.

Can I pursue a double major with this program?

Yes, you can pursue a double major by combining this program with another related major such as Bible, communication, English, psychology, sport management, teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), youth ministry or another area of interest.

What are the admission requirements for this program?

To be admitted to this program, you must meet the general admission requirements of CIU and also demonstrate a commitment to serving in cross-cultural settings.

Can I pursue a graduate degree in a related field after completing this program?

Yes, the Bachelor of Science in Intercultural Studies prepares you for graduate studies in a wide range of fields, including intercultural studies, business, healthcare administration, chaplaincy, ministry, and more.


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