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. 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 2013-2014:

  • Patricia Aguinaldo, Concentration in Asian American Studies
  • Daniel Filliettaz-Domingues, Concentration in Asian Studies
  • Patricia Martin, Concentration in Asian American Studies
  • Anna Ton, Concentration in Asian Studies

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 2012-2013 year. We are very pleased that four students completed the Certificate this year and they completed very interesting and relevant projects that analyzed and personified complex issues such as the effect of Japanese anime on the public image of Asian Americans, a multimedia overview and analysis of Yi Soon-Shin and his role in defending Korea against the Japanese invasion of 1592-1598, media representations of Asian women and its effects on sexual health and well-being, and an in-depth biography of a Vietnamese American and her family’s refugee experience.

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 that included a panel discussion on the relationship between China and the U.S. in the 21st century, the cultural paradox of Asian Americans portrayed as both the “model minority” and the “yellow peril,” and a collaboration with the Five College Asian Pacific American Studies Certificate Program on a half-day symposium that included multidisciplinary reflections on the development of Asian American Studies in the Pioneer Valley during the last 15 years.

Looking ahead to the 2014-2015 year, we are extremely pleased and excited to welcome two new faculty members who will join the UMass Amherst community in the fall -- Moon-Kie Jung in the Sociology department and his wife Caroline Yang in the English department. Both Moon-Kie and Caroline are well-established and respected scholars in their respective fields and have made important intellectual and programmatic contributions to Asian American Studies throughout their careers. We are enthusiastically looking forward to integrating them into the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program very soon.

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.