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 for graduate students from other fields (https://asianam.ucla.edu/graduate-study/graduate-concentration/).
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.
Master of Arts in Asian American Studies Requirements
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, and in the following PDF.
(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.
Students must also complete one of the following:
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), meets with the student and approves the project plan at the beginning of the student’s second year in residence in the Fall Quarter. 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.
Asian American Studies, M.A./Public Health, M.P.H. Joint Program
The Asian American Studies Program and the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health offer a concurrent degree program whereby students may pursue the M.A. in Asian American Studies and the Master of Public Health at the same time. Students must complete the program requirements for both degrees. When applying, the same statement of purpose may be submitted to each program.
For more information about the Department of Community Health Sciences:
Asian American Studies, M.A./Social Welfare, M.S.W. Joint Program
The Asian American Studies Program and the Department of Social Welfare in the School of Public Policy and Social Research offer a concurrent program whereby students may pursue the M.A. in Asian American Studies and the Master of Social Welfare at the same time. Students must complete the program requirements for both degrees. Applicants may submit the same statement of purpose to each program but all other parts of the application process are separate to each graduate program.
For more information about the Department of Social Welfare:
The multi-disciplinary structure of the Asian American Studies program offers unique opportunities for students to pursue joint graduate degrees.
Prospective and current graduate students may email Student Advisor Justin Dela Cruz with any questions related to academic advising and admissions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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