Bachelor of Arts

American & Ethnic Studies (AES)

American & Ethnic Studies is a major in the Education & Society meta-major pathway.
Sometimes it is described as a History major.

The AES Major

  • Do courses like Diversity, Leadership and Engagement and Human Rights in America sound exciting to you?

  • Do you want to explore a career in Diversity & Inclusion, Community Organizingor Education? 

The American & Ethnic Studies major at the University of Washington Bothell offers students the opportunity to study the relationships in American history and between minority and majority groups. Academic and other learning experiences enhance students' ability for future work in human services, work in politics, or community organizing for underrepresented populations. Using critical thinking and decision-making skills learned through the study of American culture and beyond, students will explore values, ideas, belief systems, and creative expression to examine the relationships between everyday life, power structures, and culture.  


Students in the American & Ethnic Studies major are passionate about understanding how humans interact with each other. Students who are curious about the diverse and intersecting categories of race, place, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ability thrive in the American & Ethnic Studies major.


Courses in the American & Ethnic Studies major focus on the relationships between power, inequality, resistance, social and environmental justice within the United States and beyond. Using various scholarly methods, students make connections between the past and present, utilizing different forms of theory, practice, and interpretation. 


Using their background in American & Ethnic Studies, students position themselves for success by bringing a global perspective to their career choice. Students develop flexible critical thinking, writing and speaking skills which prepares them for careers in government, non-profits, or with social justice organizations. Alumni also pursue graduate study in legal, cultural, and historical fields.

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AES Major Requirements


While there are no official prerequisites beyond the requirements for admission into the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, students choosing this major will find it helpful to have completed college coursework in American history, culture, and politics.

Degree Requirements

  • BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry* min. 2.0 grade (5 credits)
  • BISAES 305 Power, Dissent, and American Culture (5 credits)
  • BIS 312 Approaches to Social Research - min. 2.0 grade OR BIS 340 Approaches to Cultural Research - min. 2.0 grade (5 credits) 
  • AES Courses (30 credits) to include a minimum of 5 credits from each of the following areas:
    • Historical and Social Inquiry
    • Textual Analysis and Interpretation
    • Critical Theory and Practice
  • BIS 499 Portfolio Capstone - min. 2.5 grade (5 credits)
  • Additional IAS Coursework  (20 credits)

TOTAL = 70 Credits

*Should be taken in the first quarter of IAS enrollment.

Note: Classes in this major are offered primarily during day-time hours.

School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) Requirements & Policies

Interdisciplinary Practice & Reflection (IPR)

The IPR requirement can be completed through elective credits or it can overlap with major coursework.

Areas of Inquiry

25 credits must be completed in each Area of Knowledge.The Areas of Knowledge are: Arts and Humanities (A&H), Social Sciences (SSc), and Natural Sciences (NSc).

Multiply-designated courses may not be double-counted as fulfilling two Areas of Knowledge. Courses may apply to both an Area of Knowledge requirement and an AES major requirement.

Upper Division Credit Policy

Of the credits applying to AES major requirements, a minimum of 48 must be completed at the Upper Division (300-400) level.

Matriculated Status?

Courses taken to satisfy AES major requirements must be completed in matriculated status.

Admitted prior to Autumn Quarter, 2016?

Students admitted to the AES major prior to Autumn 2016 may be eligible to complete an older set of major requirements. For more information, please check requirement changes Autumn 2016 page.

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American & Ethnic Studies Learning Objectives

The American & Ethnic Studies Curriculum advances the four core IAS learning objectives. Students taking courses and/or majoring in American & Ethnic Studies:

  1. Think critically about the relationship between power, inequality, resistance, difference, and social and environmental justice in the United States and in relation to the larger world.
  2. Explore how structures of power in the Americas have constituted and been constituted by diverse and intersecting categories such as race, place, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ability.
  3. Research American cultures in both the past and the present using a variety of sources, including literary texts, historical archives, film, photographs, comics, newspapers, oral histories, sound recordings, and government documents.
  4. Develop creative, collaborative, and intersectional approaches for the study of the Americas.
  5. Apply critical and interdisciplinary knowledge within a range of academic, professional, and community-based settings.

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