Mission Statement

The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate is an interdisciplinary program consisting of eight courses that provides students with (1) a thorough understanding of both Asian and Asian American histories, experiences, and contemporary issues and (2) multi-disciplinary and multi-method research, analysis, and thinking skills, both of which prepare students for the increasingly diverse, globalized, and interconnected world of the 21st century.

A Brief History

By the mid-1990s, three significant trends became increasingly prominent across many colleges around the U.S. -- (1) a recognition of the growing importance of globalized international affairs, particularly focused on Asia; (2) the political, economic, and cultural growth of the Asian American population; and (3) demographic trends and a large increase in the number of Asian and Asian American students enrolling in college. As a reflection of these developments, many students and scholars pushed for the expansion of Asian Studies and Asian American Studies at their campuses.


In the late 1990s, students at UMass Amherst engaged in numerous forms of activism, including protests and occupying the administration building, to demand the creation of an Asian American Studies program. Their efforts successfully culminated with the creation of a new joint undergraduate program in Asian and Asian American Studies in the spring of 2000. Since then, the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program has graduated dozens of students from diverse personal and academic backgrounds who have gone on to apply their knowledge and skills in numerous careers and pursuits.

Why It Matters

As U.S. society becomes more diverse, multicultural, and globalized, and in the context of the cultural and economic emergence of Asian countries such as China and India, the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate gives students the opportunity to learn about the interconnections between two similar but unique sets of histories, cultures, and issues -- Asia and Asian America.

With course offerings and faculty specializing in numerous academic disciplines, the Certificate is designed to give students (1) an understanding of different Asian and Asian American ethnic groups and the range of historical, political, economic, demographic, and cultural issues related to their experiences and (2) interdisciplinary and multi-method research and learning skills to communicate and collaborate across cultures. In turn, these skills will give the student a competitive advantage in both their studies at UMass and in whatever career they enter once they graduate.

Please refer to the menu on the right for links to more information about the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program, including requirements of the certificate, frequently asked questions, and an updated listing of courses that count toward the certificate. For additional information about the Certificate, please contact:

C.N. Le, Director
Department of Sociology
Thompson Hall 508
Tel: 413-545-4074

What's New

Congratulations to the following students for completing the UMass Amherst Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate for 2014-2015:

  • Sol Hamrani, Concentration in Asian American Studies
  • Hillary Hui, Concentration in both Asian Studies and Asian American Studies
  • Tiffany Lau, Concentration in both Asian Studies and Asian American Studies
  • Ellen Lee, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Emily Scholz, Concentration in both Asian Studies and Asian American Studies
  • Alexander Smith, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Taylor Thistle, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Shirley Zhen, Concentration in Asian American Studies

From left to right: Shirley Zhen, Hillary Hui, Tiffany Lau, Sol Hamrani, Ellen Lee, Arya Mohanka (expected to finish Dec. 2015), Taylor Thistle From left to right: Shirley Zhen, Hillary Hui, Tiffany Lau, Sol Hamrani, Ellen Lee, Arya Mohanka (expected to finish Dec. 2015), Taylor Thistle

All of them worked very hard throughout their courses and particularly with their Senior Seminar capstone projects. Completing the Certificate is an important accomplishment and one that they should definitely feel proud of. It is students like these who sustain the Certificate Program and help make it vibrant and dynamic. Best of luck to them all as they graduate, start their careers, and bring their knowledge and wisdom to their own communities.

The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program (AAASCP) has completed another productive and successful 2014-2015 year. Eight students completed the Certificate this year. I am very pleased with this number, as it attests to the vibrant and dynamic state of Asian Studies and Asian American Studies at UMass Amherst, and as it compares very favorably to many larger and more established Asian American Studies programs at various universities around the country.

Overall, I am also very pleased with the positive trend over the past few years, which represents the payoff of the hard work that the AAASCP has put into promoting the Certificate around campus, as more and more students see the value of the Certificate’s combination of providing them with a detailed understanding of the increasingly important political, economic, and cultural connections between Asia and Asian America, along with practical interdisciplinary and multi-methodological skills that they can use in their studies and their future careers.

The AAASCP prides itself on contributing to the rich and vibrant academic community of UMass Amherst and the Five Colleges. This year, the AAASCP and several affiliated faculty were involved in numerous public events, activities, and talks that took place here at UMass and at other Five College campuses. We have forged stronger relationships with the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), the Asian/Asian American Defined Residential Community in Lewis Hall, and the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC) and were very pleased to partner with them on several events.

Among these was our two-part series of events celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month commemorating the iconic Japanese American community activist Yuri Kochiyama, and her legacy of building multi-racial coalitions and bridging communities across racial lines. The first event featured a keynote by Yuri’s granddaughter Akemi Kochiyama and the second event centered around a panel discussion that included a diverse and distinguished selection of students and faculty who spoke about their inspiring work in continuing Yuri’s commitment to multicultural community building and social equality.

As we continually impress upon our current and potential Certificate students, as the world in general and U.S. society in particular become increasingly culturally diverse and interconnected, those who have a detailed understanding of different racial/ethnic groups, of international socioeconomic issues, and multi-methodological and interdisciplinary research and analytical skills -- all of which the AAAS Certificate gives them -- will have a competitive advantage in their studies at UMass, in whatever career they enter once they graduate, and in applying their knowledge as community leaders in the 21st century.

For an updated listing of upcoming talks, events, and other activities related to the certificate program, remember to check the Events & Activities Calendar and the Recent Announcements & Opportunities pages.