Bachelor of Arts

American & Ethnic Studies (AES)

On this page: Major Description | Requirements | Learning Objectives

The AES Major

How have culture, power, and dissent shaped the diverse populations of the United States in relation to the larger world?

American & Ethnic Studies investigates the social forces, political institutions, and cultural productions that have created the United States and shaped what it means to be an "American."

This major will help you develop a critical understanding of the categories that have shaped the emergence and reproduction of systems of power defined in relation to national citizenship. We pay particular attention to diverse and intersecting categories of race, place, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ability.

Our courses examine the relationships between power, inequality, resistance, social and environmental justice, and difference. Using various scholarly methods, American & Ethnic Studies makes connections between past and present conditions. We educate students in historical and social inquiry, textual analysis and interpretation, and critical theory and practice.

Career Focus

The American & Ethnic Studies degree prepares students for careers in governmental, community-based, nonprofit or social justice organizations, or for graduate programs in legal, cultural, and historical fields.

More information about career possibilities or pursuing graduate school.

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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 Knowledge

25 credits must be completed in each Area of Knowledge.The Areas of Knowledge are: Visual, Literary and Performing Arts (VLPA), Individuals and Societies (I&S), and Natural World (NW).

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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