The Major

The STPEC major provides students with the opportunity to develop their own individualized courses of study across departments while they acquire a foundation in areas of concentration within the STPEC program. Students choose classes to fulfill their upper-level requirements (see below) from a list of classes drawn from the Five Colleges. Transfer students may petition to have courses taken at other institutions accepted for STPEC credit. STPEC also encourages students to study abroad and, with program approval, to use courses taken abroad to satisfy STPEC requirements.


These requirements apply to students entering the University of Massachusetts Amherst in fall 2018 or later. For requirements for earlier entry years see archived Guides to Undergraduate Programs.

Students must take two introductory courses before they will be admitted to STPEC’s Core Seminar I:

  1. A course in social theory selected from the STPEC recommended course list
  2. A course in political economy selected from the STPEC recommended course list

Once admitted, students must complete at least 43 credits within the STPEC Program distributed as follows:

  1. Five upper-level courses (15 credits): Includes one course each in Modern Social Theory and Social Movements; Political Economy; Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies and Queer Theory; History and Politics of Race in the U.S.; and Non-Western Perspectives, Global South and Indigenous People, all of which must be selected from the STPEC course list. We strongly recommend that students fulfill at least one upper-level requirement by taking a STPEC Focus Seminar.
  2. One upper-or lower-level history course (3 credits).
  3. One internship (3 credits minimum).
  4. Four STPEC seminars (16 credits):
    1. Two Core Seminars: Core seminars provide in-depth interdisciplinary study of social and political theory and its application in particular situations. Enrollment in each Core seminar limited to 20 STPEC majors. Both seminars offered every semester.
    2. Two Focus seminars: Opportunity for students to engage in intensive study in specific areas of interest decided by the professor and students. Recent seminars have addressed such topics as “Economics, the Environment and Social Justice,” “Marxism, Queer Theory, and Materialism,” “Global Health Inequalities,” “Workplace Law in Capitalist America” “Black Radicalism in the U.S. & Beyond, 1960s and 70s,” “A People's History on the War on Drugs,” and "Critical Geography and the Poetics of Resistance."
  5. STPEC 320 Writing for Critical Consciousness (3 credits). Fulfills the University’s Junior Year Writing requirement. Enrollment limited to 20 STPEC majors.
  6. STPEC’s Integrative Experience (IE) (3 credits): Fulfills the University’s General Education (GenEd) requirement to integrate learning over the student's career. This course teaches students to apply social theory to the real-life experience of their required STPEC internship or other organizing activities. As an integrative experience (IE) course students are encouraged to draw on knowledge acquired in prior Gen Ed and core STPEC courses to explore connections between theory and practice as they analyze the different aspects of various kinds of organizations. Class structure and assignments promote group communication, multi-disciplinary dialogue, and critical self-reflection.
  7. STPEC's International/Intercultural Requirement provides students the opportunity to organize and articulate the global knowledge they have accumulated as a result of their studies within and outside the STPEC major. While we strongly encourage learning of foreign languages and participation in study abroad programs, STPEC already provides extensive engagement in international and intercultural studies. To fulfill this requirement, students take 6 courses that contribute to 1) knowledge about cultures and histories outside the United States and of indigenous and diasporic peoples within the U.S.; and 2) understandings of global economic circulations, systems of domination, and networks of resistance. At least one course taken to fulfill this requirement must have an international focus (if a topical course), be a foreign language, or be taken during a departmentally approved study abroad.

*Under most circumstances, this requirement is automatically satisfied when students take courses that fulfill other STPEC requirements. Students must take 6 of these 7 courses:

  • Introduction to Social Theory Course
  • Core I Seminar
  • Core II Seminar
  • Focus I Seminar
  • Focus II Seminar
  • History and Politics of Race in the U.S.
  • Non-Western Perspectives, Global South and Indigenous People 

Important: GPA of 2.00 or higher required for the STPEC major.

Matriculated students new to the STPEC Program must contact the STPEC office for an initial advising session and complete an intake form.