What can I do with a degree in Cultural Studies?

Students with animals at the petting zoo at Orientation
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In Cultural Studies, ‘culture’ is understood very broadly, but with a strong emphasis on local everyday life. It looks at many cultural forms which have often been ignored by universities: advertising, media, music, fashion, sport and leisure are shown to be extremely powerful political forces in shaping our societies and our identities.

Through their Cultural Studies degree, graduates develop a set of transferable skills such as:

  • Knowledge of contemporary cultural trends
  • Thinking critically and creatively, and challenging ideas
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Understanding the influences on contemporary society
  • Bicultural understanding and multicultural awareness
  • Oral and written communication
  • Research and computing skills.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available for example, undertaking an internship can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability

You can construct a degree that is either:

  • Generalised eg, suited for a teaching career
  • Specialised eg, beneficial for digital, media, advocacy, digital humanities, bicultural, community, political, social, campaigning and environmental fields of work.

Cultural Studies leads to careers in fields where a wide analytic grasp of contemporary culture is required, for example:

  • Media industries — such as journalism, publishing, writing, website design, advertising, public relations
  • Museology or curatorship
  • Teaching and education
  • Advocacy or social services
  • Travel and tourism
  • Policy and governance
  • Arts, event or project management.

Because of the breadth and flexibility of a graduate’s understanding of culture, they are also able to move among such fields easily.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Social / youth / support / case worker

  • Provides support and guidance to young people, individuals and whānau
  • Builds relationships and links people to resources, services, groups and events
  • Develops programmes to address local issues
  • Writes reports and coordinates budgets


  • Advises and represents individuals, groups or a cause
  • Examines and drafts contracts
  • Provides relevant information to clients

Counsellor, addiction clinician

  • Supports a client to voice their feelings, stories
  • Listens to and reflects upon the client’s issues
  • Raises self-awareness and understanding
  • Helps client identify options and make choices

Cultural or community support coordinator

  • Administers support programmes for diverse groups eg, refugees
  • Develops confidence in participants and identifies opportunities for them
  • Builds connections with members and agencies

Museum / art gallery curator

  • Chooses display items at museums or galleries
  • Manages collections and exhibitions
  • Conducts research and communicates details

Fundraising coordinator

  • Helps develop new income streams
  • Grows support via communication and relationship-building activities
  • Administers the contacts database

Digital content specialist, online editor

  • Develops a brand’s multi-channel marketing
  • Increases web traffic and social media engagement
  • Oversees digital marketing and online search

Tourism marketing officer

  • Researches consumer market and interests
  • Manages customer networks and relationships
  • Creates corporate brands and advertising media campaigns

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in the same community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Cultural Studies subject page