B.A. in American Ethnic Studies

American Ethnic Studies brings an innovative approach to the critical study of race and ethnicity in relation to power by centering the lived experiences of communities of color in American societies. By using diverse perspectives—both from these communities and from a variety of academic fields—the program enables students to engage in unique, respectful scholarly research, dialogue and community engagements. The program extends its field of study to analyze the complicating effects of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, and global and transnational identities and experiences. 

Students choose one of four concentrations to help customize their studies: African American Studies, Asian American/Pacific Islander Studies, Chicano/a Studies or Comparative AES. Alumni use their cultural competency, communication skills and advanced understanding of complex relationships and institutions to succeed in a variety of careers in the public and private sectors.

Admissions, Advising & Student Resources

Please see our Undergraduate Programs section for information about applying to the program, career paths, scholarships, and other student resources.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 60 credits (12 courses total) are required for completion of the AES major:

  • 30 credits (6 courses) from Core Courses
  • 25 credits (5 courses) from the student’s Concentration Area Courses
  • 5 credits (1 course) from an upper-division course in an area other than the student’s concentration 

Core Courses

30 credits (6 courses) must come from the core courses:

Concentration Area Courses

25 credits (5 courses) must come from the student’s concentration area and 5 credits (1 course) outside of the student’s concentration area. Courses that can be applied to the concentration area are listed below.

African American Studies

Asian American/PIA Studies

Chicano/a Studies

Comparative American Ethnic Studies

The Comparative American Ethnic Studies track focuses on the study of American ethnic groups in relation to each other. The emphasis of this track is on interdisciplinarity and the multiple, overlapping, and heterogeneous experiences of these local, regional, national, and transnational communities as they inform and are informed by each other. These comparative-inflected courses endeavor to enlarge the breadth and expand the depth of the social, political, and cultural investigation of the relevant communities.

Honors Thesis Option

Students must take one upper-division course in a concentration area other than the one chosen for their major focus. Students admitted to the Honors track can satisfy this requirement by taking AES 496 (Honors Thesis). 

AES 496 (Honors Thesis) is a supervised individual and independent/tutorial study for seniors who have been admitted to the honors track. It usually involves research, writing, and completion of a thesis of at least 30 pages. Other projects (such as a video production, dramatic play, or other suitable endeavor) may be approved to fulfill the thesis requirement. The student must identify a faculty person willing to act as sponsor for the course. The AES Honors Program Application is available from the AES Academic Adviser, or it can be downloaded from the Honors Program page. For more information, please visit the AES Honors Program page.

Recommended Courses

After completing the 60 credits required for the AES major and fulfilling the University requirements (English composition, foreign language, quantitative or symbolic reasoning, and areas of knowledge), a student may have to take additional courses to accumulate the 180 credits the University requires for graduation. Thus, AES majors are encouraged to take other AES, AAS, AFRAM, or CHSTU classes beyond the 25 credits required in the concentration area. In addition, they are encouraged to enroll in American Indian Studies (AIS) courses in order to broaden their ethnic studies knowledge.

Language Courses

Swahili, Tagalog and other language courses do not fulfill AES requirements.

However, these classes can be used to satisfy the University’s foreign language requirement, or may be applied to the electives category.

Visit our Language Courses page for more information on language courses including scheduling placement tests.