Graduate Study - Program Information

The Department offers a Master of Arts degree and two concurrent degree programs (Asian American Studies MA/Public Health MPH with the Fielding School of Public Health Department of Community Health Sciences and Asian American Studies MA/Social Welfare MSW with the Luskin School of Public Affairs Department of Social Welfare). In addition, the Department offers an Asian American Studies Graduate Concentration program for graduate students from other fields.

The graduate program aims to train students in the following ways: (1) equip them with theoretical and conceptual tools for critical thinking and critical analysis; (2) guide them in research that utilizes written texts, electronic media, visual objects, or performative modalities as the medium; (3) make them aware of the mutually complementary relationship between academic and community work; and (4) prepare them for careers in both private and public domains.

Graduate course work centers on 11 required courses which lead to completion of the degree through two culminating venues: (1) thesis plan or (2) capstone plan. 

Faculty members bring a wide range of expertise and theoretical approaches to the graduate cohorts: from traditional disciplines of applied social sciences to emerging fields of digital media and informatics, with an emphasis on combining quantitative with qualitative methods, empirical and speculative inquiry, and on developing comparative and cross-cutting approaches to understanding of the range and complexity of Asian and Pacific Islander American experiences. Below is a sampling of the topics currently worked on by Asian American faculty in teaching and research: foundational concerns of ethnic studies, critical race theory, environmental justice, queer diaspora, food culture, social documentary, South-North relations in literature, civil engagement, and Asian American religion.

Our faculty works closely with graduate students and favors participatory models of pedagogy that emphasize field work and collective efforts. Graduate students are encouraged to consult their faculty advisers throughout their stay in the program, especially in developing projects that both reflect their own interests and contribute to their completion of the M.A. degree.

The Department regularly sponsors lectures given by distinguished guest speakers on the current state and the future development of the field. Our proximity to several closely allied departments or programs on campus—Gender Studies, Chicana/o Studies, African American Studies, American Indian Studies, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, the Center for Labor Research, and the Institute of American Cultures—offers distinct advantages to many of our graduate students.