Why You Need an Academic Concentration

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Did you know there’s a way to commit to a field of study in a low-stakes environment and few repercussions if you decide the study isn’t for you?

Academic concentrations are an excellent option for students pursuing an Associate in Arts and Science transfer degree who are looking to dig deeper into a topic and find out if the study is for them. It is indicated on a student’s diploma and states a student has completed a certain set of courses that cover a group of topics the department sees as critical to the field of study. An eligible student will be able to get a concentration if the department has been approved to offer the concentration option. You may only choose one concentration. Degrees and concentrations are awarded at the same time.

Bellevue College offers academic concentrations in anthropology, criminal justice, communications studies, cultural and ethnic studies, gender studies, geography, history, mathematics, political science, psychology, sociology, sustainability and theater arts/drama. Most of these concentrations require 20 credits from specific classes, although it can vary. 

For example, an anthropology concentration would require a student to take certain anthropology courses (ANTH& 204, ANTH& 206, ANTH 208 and either ANTH& 205 or ANTH& 215). These classes cover the core topics of anthropology that the department thinks students need to know in-depth in order to continue further anthropology studies. For more information on the other fields of study, you can visit BC’s list of available concentrations and their requirements.

An academic concentration can also show major programs that a student’s interest in the topic is based on actual experience and not ungrounded fantasy. For example, a concentration can show your interest in archaeology is not just because you loved Indiana Jones as a kid, but because you have a genuine interest in the material remains left by ancient people and civilizations. You are more likely to get picked for a program if you’ve shown prior interest and have studied the field. Hannah Weitz, who is the associate director of Evaluations and Graduation, recommends “reaching out to some of the departments who offer academic concentrations, [so] they can speak to how their concentration specifically helps students, or what the incentive is for students to apply for one.”

Professor Anthony Tessandori, the BC department chair of the anthropology department, stated an academic concentration can help a student in the long run because it shows “a well-founded knowledge of a future area of study. That background can only help. I think that earning a concentration is like getting advice from [a] group of subject experts.”

An academic concentration provides great insight into how well a path suits a student. So if you’re looking to go that extra mile in your field of choice or if you simply want to learn more about a certain study, then this option might be for you.