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Kentucky Council Lauds International Studies Program for Success With Minority Students

By Richard LeComte 

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A recent study by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education lauded the International Studies B.A. program in the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts & Sciences as a top program in preparing under-represented minority students for early career success. 

The report is titled “Analysis on Workforce Preparedness and Early Career Outcomes for Under-represented Minority and Low-Income Status Students in Kentucky.” The study’s authors identified the International Studies Program as “exemplary in preparing underrepresented minority students for early career success,” said Matthew K. Vetter, a senior research analyst with the council. 

“Our analysis indicates that under-represented minority (URM) graduates from the program are earning competitive wages in their first year after graduation,” he said.  

According to the report, earnings for under-represented minority alumni between 2008 and 2018 in the first full year after graduation “actually exceeded the median earnings of their non-URM peers over the past 10 years. In a state-wide comparison, this program is in the top 5% of all academic programs in preparing URM students for early career success.” 

Researchers used employment and earnings data about statewide graduates from 2008 to 2020. They identified high-achieving academic programs at the Bachelor’s, Associate’s and Certificate-Diploma levels. The researchers went further using qualitative methods to find out from faculty and alumni why these programs did as well as they did in aiding under-represented minorities toward favorable outcomes. 

"This recognition means so much to the International Studies program, especially in light of our recent efforts, which have been supported by the U.S. Department of Education, to increase experiential education opportunities, particularly for URM and low-income students,” said Emily Beauliu Bacchus, director of International Studies for the College.  

The International Studies major requires each student to understand a global theme and a non-North American world region from multiple perspectives, to gain competence in a related foreign language, and to carry out in-depth research and writing. International Studies majors graduate with knowledge and skills that enable them to live and work as global citizens throughout the world. The critical analytical skills and the multi-disciplinary perspectives gained as International Studies majors prepare students to be adaptable and successful in their careers.  

 Established as part of the education reforms set forth in the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, the Council on Postsecondary Education is Kentucky's statewide postsecondary and adult education coordinating agency. The governor appoints 13 citizens, one faculty member and one student member to the council; the commissioner of education is an ex-officio member. A supporting state agency is attached to the Governor’s Office and run by the president, who is appointed by council membership.