Ethnic Studies is the study of the histories, experiences, cultures, and issues of racial-ethnic groups in the United States. As an interdisciplinary major, the B.A. in Ethnic Studies emphasizes the social and historical study of race and racism in the United States. The Ethnic Studies discipline is defined by its attention to the systemic power relations that arise from institutional, cultural, and global productions of “race.” Through the study of power and its linkages to race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality students gain an understanding of historical movements for social transformation, resistance, and liberation. While the main focus is on the experiences of racialized peoples in the United States, the program also understands that race and racism are not unique to the United States. Committed to scholarly excellence and intellectual rigor, Ethnic Studies contributes to global discourses regarding human freedom. The program teaches students about the social dynamics of race, racism, structural violence, colonialism, legalized discrimination, assimilation, and the resulting impacts of such processes. Moreover, the program provides an in-depth understanding of our racial/ethnic diversity, indigenous and liberationist epistemologies, community and identity formation, artistic productions, and activism on the social, legal, and public policy front.
The major operates from a comparative approach. The Ethnic Studies core curriculum anchors students intellectually, theoretically, and methodologically. Augmenting the core, upper-division courses support the three themes of the curriculum: 1) Colonialism, Migration and Diasporas; 2) The State, Inequality and Resistance; and, 3) Identities and Representation. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of ethnic studies via application in a capstone project and/or fieldwork opportunities in racial-ethnic communities.
Colonialism, Migration and Diasporas: This theme examines colonialism in domestic and/or international contexts, and the waves of (im)migration and resulting diasporas produced from exile. Students explore the political, economic, cultural and/or social forces that produce unequal relations (e.g., colonizer/colonized, propertied or dominant/dispossessed, and citizen/immigrant). Also considered are affected racial-ethnic communities’ responses to colonization or (im)migration.
The State, Inequality and Resistance: This theme explores the ways that the nation-state deploys power that unfairly and inequitably impact racial-ethnic relations, individual or cultural identities, and opportunities for advancement. Students examine institutional systems, discourses, and/or mechanisms of the state (e.g., legal, political, educational, criminal justice, bureaus and reservations, segregation and/or policies) that seek to control and contain populations. Along with the forms of resistance aggrieved groups undertake to challenge, resist and self-empower, consequences such as discrimination and inequalities produced by the state are considered.
Identities and Representation: This theme focuses on questions of identity, its construction for and by historically marginalized populations, and how representations and cultural practices are means to construct or sustain empowering and affirming cultural identities. Students will study modes of representation (e.g., media, artistic, or performative) adopted or created by marginalized groups as well as dominant representations of racial-ethnic communities.
Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies will be able to:
An Ethnic Studies degree provides students with theoretical understandings in racial and ethnic groups’ histories, experiences, and cultures that are organized by the themes structuring the major. The B.A. prepares students for a variety of occupations where knowledge and understanding of racial and ethnic groups is essential.
These may include fields such as:
Students must complete ETST 101 or its equivalent in advance of enrolling in the upper-division core courses. The design of the curriculum encourages students to complete the upper-division core courses, with the exception of the Senior Seminar, prior to registering for courses supporting the three themes. Completion of the major requires a minimum of 48-50 units.
All courses taken for the major must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.
The Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies maintains the same general Undergraduate Admission and Graduation Requirements and/or Transfer Policies/Requirements described in California State University San Marcos’ catalog.
A minimum of eighteen (18) units of upper-division credits must be earned at CSUSM. No more than three (3) hours of independent study and/or internship may be applied toward the major.
General Education (48 Units)
All Ethnic Studies majors must meet a second-language proficiency requirement. This is satisfied with a 200-level class or demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English. For details on how to satisfy this requirement, please refer to Language Proficiency Requirement .
Complete three courses in each of the three themes.
Some courses may support one or more theme, those courses are identified by an asterisk (**). In such cases, the course may only fulfill one theme.
*ETST 420 - Special Topics in Ethnic Studies may be repeated as topics change for a total of nine (9) units. May count toward different themes depending on topic. Students should check the Class Schedule for a listing of current topics.
After completing the upper-division core, students are to select two additional courses from any of the three themes, which are not already used toward one of the themes. Students may also elect to complete an internship or independent study.