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 828
Tel: 413-545-4074

What's New

Congratulations to the following students for completing the UMass Amherst Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate for 2017-2018:

  • Zachary Dolan, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Cindy Le , Concentrations in Asian American Studies
  • Vivian Yee, Concentration in Asian American Studies

From left to right: Vivian Yee, Zachary Dolan, Zoe Shenk (expected completion in 2019), and Cindy Le From left to right: Vivian Yee, Zachary Dolan, Zoe Shenk (completion expected in 2019), and Cindy Le

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 2017-2018 year, with four students completing the Certificate. While this number is a little lower than in previous years, it still compares favorably to many larger and more established Asian American Studies programs at various universities around the country. In recognizing that quality is just as important as quantity, the Certificate students completed some very interesting, insightful, and impressive capstone projects on the following topics:

  • Exploring Disaster in Japanese Literature and Culture
  • Asian American Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
  • Foreign Tourism in Asian Countries

The AAASCP has worked very hard to promote the Certificate around campus, and more students are seeing 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.

As part of its mission to contribute to the rich and vibrant academic community of UMass Amherst and the Five Colleges, the AAASCP continues 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 and activities.

This included several very successful visits of notable scholars to the UMass and other Five College campuses, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author and faculty in Asian American Studies Viet Thanh Nguyen, Crystal Parikh, Willy Wilkinson, Pam Sakamoto, and Tadashi Nakamura. Throughout the year, we also had a number of lectures, workshops, and/or panels given by or featuring Certificate-affiliated faculty, graduate students, staff, and undergraduate students related to Asian Studies and Asian American Studies on topics such as sacred dances of Hawai’i, Tibetan New Year, a musical performance by the Grammy-nominated “Silk Road Ensemble,” and a multimedia performance “Qyrz Qyz (Forty Maidens),” to name just a few.

Perhaps the highlight of the academic year was the Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Dinner Gala, held on April 26 in the Amherst Room of the Campus Center. Superbly organized by the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC) , this event was attended by close to 100 people and celebrated May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month for the UMass Amherst campus. In addition to delicious Indian and Thai food, the event featured a recognition of several Asian American student organizations and their contributions to the campus community, a lecture by me on the history of social justice activism among Asian Americans, and an amazing multimedia performance by the nationally-acclaimed "No No Boys" duo of Julian Saporiti and Erin Aoyama and their synthesis of film, music, and stories to commemorate the Asian American experience.

Additionally, several Certificate-affiliated faculty had very notable academic successes during the year. As just two examples, Prof. Miliann Kang (Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies) conducted a year-long ethnographic research project on women teachers in South Korea as part of a Fulbright Research Fellowship for the 2017-2018 year. Second, Poet Ocean Vuong, Assistant Professor in the MFA for Poets and Writers program in the English Department, won the prestigious 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize for his debut collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds.

As we continually impress upon our Certificate students, as U.S. society becomes increasingly culturally diverse and globalized, 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 21st century U.S. society.

University Response to Federal Immigration Actions

UMass Amherst has created a page that contains updated information and resources related to recent federal actions restricting immigration from certain countries. Any member of the UMass Amherst community with travel-related concerns or questions should contact the International Programs Office at (413) 545-2710. For further information, contact Kenneth Reade, Director of International Student & Scholar Services, at kjreade@ipo.umass.edu or (413) 545-2843.

For an updated listing of upcoming talks, events, and other activities related to the certificate program, remember to check and to 'like' our Facebook Page!