Undergraduate Programs

What is American Ethnic Studies?

American Ethnic Studies is an innovative field that centers the lived experiences and histories of communities of color within American societies—as well as through larger global contexts. Not bound by a single academic discipline, AES uses diverse perspectives for the critical study of race and ethnicity in relation to power. 

Students explore and analyze these relationships while also learning to consider the complicating effects of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class. Through courses in one of four concentrations—African American Studies, Asian American/Pacific Islander Studies, Chicano/a Studies or Comparative AES—students put the ideas they learn into practice with local and global communities. Alumni use their cultural competency, communication skills and understanding of complex relationships and institutions to succeed in careers in the public and private sectors.

Why study American Ethnic Studies?

  • Customize your major: With an interdisciplinary approach and dozens of electives, you can find course options specifically to meet your interests and goals.
  • Understand power at work: From education to government, corporations to health care, you’ll learn to critically analyze power hierarchies—and how to transform these institutions to cultivate respectful, effective working relationships among diverse groups of people.
  • Take a seat at the table: AES is grounded in social justice values and practices that seek to eradicate systems of racism and other inequalities. We welcome students as partners in our work as scholars and active community members and organizers.
  • Study and speak powerful truths: Through courses that explore often-neglected perspectives, hands-on community experiences, and the rigorous development of your communication skills, you’ll uncover old and new stories, and learn how to effectively bring them to fresh audiences. 
  • Find friends and allies: The work we do is rewarding, but difficult, and it can’t be done alone. By creating new connections in our welcoming community, you’ll build confidence and find collaborators. 

What programs do we offer for undergraduates?

How do you major in American Ethnic Studies?

AES is an open major. Students in good academic standing may declare the major at any time by meeting with the undergraduate adviser. Preferably, students should:

  • Be in their junior year; this gives you plenty of time to take care of your general education requirements
  • Have taken at least two of the AES introductory courses (AES 150, AES 151, AES 212, AFRAM 101, AAS 101, CHSTU 101)
  • Have at least a 2.0 overall grade point average
  • Have completed at least 5 credits of English Composition with a minimum grade of 2.5

Learn more about UW Admissions for Incoming Freshmen, Transfers, and International Students

How do you meet with an AES adviser?

Contact an AES adviser to schedule an appointment.