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Foreign Area Studies (FAS)

The Discipline and the Major

The Foreign Area Studies major is designed to give insight into the study of global society while focusing on selected regions. Special emphasis is placed on the study of particular areas, enriched through social scientific research (including theories and methods surrounding cultural studies) and the investigation of humanistic endeavors, i.e., how the knowledge of a given culture, with its particular language, economy, literature, art, political structure and history, constitutes the basis for a better understanding of the societies of the world, including one's own. The goal is to go beyond American and Eurocentric points of view in order to understand the world from a more native perspective, to uncover the internal logic that is reflected in various expressions of deep-rooted cultural values. The assumptions, meanings, social structures and dynamics of another society and culture are thus made more comprehensible, creating opportunities for self-reflection that may expand and even challenge assumptions about one’s own society and culture.


Majoring in FAS opens doors to USNA-sponsored Language Summer Study Abroad Programs (LSAP) as well as semester abroad programs (SSA) throughout the world.  Long term, this major could lead to a career that includes service as a Foreign Area Officer (FAO). With the FAS major under their belts, midshipmen will be able to analyze, understand and interpret other cultures through a multi-disciplinary lens, one that is essential to a well-rounded understanding of a region. 

Considerations for those who might be interested in this major

While the FAS major is by definition interdisciplinary, midshipmen should select a track within one of the following academic specialties: Cultural Studies, History or Political Science.  Midshipmen should also focus on one or more of the following regions and languages.

Note: for the classes of ‘24, ‘25, and '26, only the first two areas listed below are to be offered. The other regions will be offered in future as the program develops.

● East Asia/Eurasia: Chinese, Japanese and Russian

● Middle East/North Africa: Arabic and French

● Africa: Arabic, French and Portuguese

● Europe: French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish

● Latin America: Spanish and Portuguese

Languages and Cultures Department Site

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