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 critical 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 2015-2016:

  • Osato Egonmwan, Concentration in Asian American Studies
  • Arya Mohanka, Concentrations in both Asian Studies and Asian American Studies
  • Tereza Pinkhasova, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Ryan Walsh, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Liliqing Xue, Concentration in Asian Studies

From left to right: Molly Henry (expected to finish Fall 2016), Tereza Pinkhasova, Liliqing Xue, and Osato Egonmwan From left to right: Molly Henry (expected to finish Fall 2016), Tereza Pinkhasova, Liliqing Xue, and Osato Egonmwan

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 2015-2016 year. While this number is a little lower than in previous years, it still 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 overall state and health of the AAASCP and its positive trend over the past few years.

The AAASCP has worked very hard to promote the Certificate around campus, and 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 continue to forge strong collaborative relationships with the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), the Asian/Asian American Residential Community in Lewis Hall, the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC), and the Asian Arts and Culture Program (AACP) and were very pleased to partner with them on several events.

This included the very successful visit of Vietnamese American multi-instrumental artist Vanessa Vo to UMass Amherst on March 4, as Ms. Vo previewed her newest performance “The Odyssey: From Vietnam to America” at Bowker Auditorium, ahead of its formal premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. later that month. She also engaged with students at two smaller campus events in conjunction with my Sociology 240 “The Asian American Experience” course and for the Asian/Asian American Residential Community in Lewis Hall where over 50 students were delighted to interact with her and tried her traditional Vietnamese instruments themselves.

Throughout the year, we also had a strong number of academic talks that focused on numerous aspects and issues related to the Asian American population. These included lectures, workshops, and/or panels given by or featuring Certificate-affiliated faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students on topics such as Asian American women in the workforce, mental health in the Asian diaspora, the growth of international Chinese students studying at UMass, Asian American parenting practices, and compassionate leadership in the 21st century, to name just a few.

Lastly, we finally have our own Facebook page! Please 'like us' to keep updated on current events and news stories related to Asia and Asian America, along with updates, news, and announcements about the Certificate Program, related campus activities, and academic internships, scholarships, conferences, jobs, grants, etc.

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.