MA Program Information
The Department of Asian American Studies offers a two-year Masters of Arts (M.A.) degree in Asian American Studies. The program provides students with an interdisciplinary analytical lens to explore the historical and cultural experiences of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
The required core and breadth curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in critical issues in Asian American Studies. The integrated program of study are used in several different courses and more than one discipline — illustrating how all areas work together and influence one another. The electives courses of the M.A. program allow students to explore new possibilities and develop more depth in chosen areas of expertise.
Program requirements for Asian American Studies can be found on the Graduate Division website: https://grad.ucla.edu/programs/social-sciences/asian-american-studies/
A total of 11 graduate and upper division courses are required for the M.A. degree in Asian American Studies. Of the 11 courses, eight must be graduate level (200- or 500- series). The required course work is outlined below:
(1) Four required core courses are Asian American Studies 200A, 200B, 200C, 200D. Core courses must be completed during the first year. Students may only take a core course during the second year with the approval of the graduate faculty adviser.
(2) Three breadth 200-level courses taken outside the department. The purpose of breadth courses is to expose students to disciplines outside of Asian American studies that complement their focus or foci of study. Breadth courses should be chosen in consultation with the faculty adviser.
(3) Four elective courses (at least one must be a graduate-level course and the other three courses may be graduate or upper division undergraduate courses). Elective courses should be selected to give students additional training in a discipline or a greater understanding of a particular topic. Only two courses in the 500-series may be applied toward the four elective courses and only one of the two may be applied toward the required eight graduate courses. Elective courses should be chosen in consultation with the faculty adviser.
Prior to advancement to candidacy, students must also complete the following:
- Plan I: Thesis (Option A or Option B) or Plan II: Capstone (Option A or Option B)
Plan I: Thesis
Every master's degree thesis plan requires the completion of an approved thesis that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research.
Option A: Thesis
The thesis is intended to provide the opportunity for independent scholarly research on the historical and contemporary experiences of the Asian American population and should be an original contribution to the field. It should be the length and quality of a publishable journal article. A thesis committee of three faculty members is normally constituted at the beginning of the student's second year in residence in the Fall Quarter, at which time the student is expected to submit a plan of research for approval. After approval and completion of the thesis, the committee conducts an oral examination on its subject, usually in the Spring Quarter of the second year. The approved thesis must be typed and filed according to University regulations governing thesis preparation. Academic credit for thesis research and preparation is given through Asian American Studies 598.
Option B: Field Research Thesis
A field research thesis is recommended for students who are interested in the practical application of what they have learned in their graduate coursework or who intend to pursue careers with Asian American community organizations and agencies. A field research thesis committee, consisting of three faculty members (one of whom is designated as the chair) and possibly the chief administrative officer of the client community organization, meets with the student and approves the project plan at the beginning of the student's second year in residence in the Fall Quarter. The chief administrative officer of the client community organization may either be appointed as an additional member of the committee, in which case the officer would be expected to read and sign the thesis as the fourth member, or serve as an unofficial and non-appointed consultant for the student, in which case the officer would not sign the thesis. After the thesis is completed, the committee conducts an oral examination on the written report of the thesis, usually in Spring Quarter of the student's second year. The approved thesis report must be typed and filed according to University regulations governing thesis preparation. Academic credit for field research is given through course 596 or 598.
Plan II: Capstone
Option A: Written Comprehensive Examination
The Asian American Studies M.A. examination is designed as an option for students interested in completing the degree by taking a field examination in Asian American Studies pedagogy. Students choosing this option are expected to demonstrate: (1) the ability to conceptualize and design courses for Asian American Studies major/minors; and (2) the ability to develop teaching methods appropriate to the instruction of such courses. Requirements of the exam option include the following components: (1) designing three original syllabi with accompanying narratives that rationalize the course designs, (2) compiling a comprehensive annotated bibliography based on the content of the three courses, and (3) taking an oral examination based on (1) and (2). Three Asian American Studies faculty members sit on an Exam Review Committee. Two will be selected from those who have taught the core series. The third is chosen by the student, in consultation with the AASD Graduate Advisor. Completion of the M.A. Examination generally occurs in the Spring quarter of the student’s second year, but can be administered in any term when a degree can be granted and with all other necessary requirements fulfilled.
Option B: Individual Project
Students may complete the M.A. degree by working on a creative project (e.g., art exhibit, documentary film, interactive digital media, play script, poetry collection, or short-story collection), which is designed to highlight the close connection between Asian and Pacific Islander Americans’ historical and contemporary experiences, and their artistic expressions. The student choosing this option must work with a faculty mentor who is specialized in the proposed creative form and available for supervising the student’s development of ideas and research methods throughout the entire creative process. A committee of three faculty members, including the abovementioned faculty mentor, is normally constituted at the beginning of the student’s second year in residence, at which time the student is expected to submit for approval a project plan and its timetable. After the student’s completion of a creative project, the committee conducts an oral examination on the subject, usually in the Spring Quarter of the second year. Comparable to the department guidelines for a research thesis defense, the oral examination allows the student to discuss the origins of the creative project, its methodology, its findings, and its contributions to Asian American Studies. The length and format of the oral examination should be determined after the student consults with and gets approval from the three-member faculty committee.