FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

In a nutshell, what is the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate?
It's an interdisciplinary collection of courses, totaling 8 courses, that focuses on the historical, political, economic and cultural connections between the U.S. and Asia, particularly as they relate to the Asian American community. After you complete the requirements, you get an official designation on your final transcript and an actual Certificate with your name on it that you can keep and frame if you wish. You can view the short video below in which I summarize the Certificate and how it can benefit you:

Why should I get the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate? What good will it do me?
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 Certificate gives you 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 racial/ethnic groups & international issues and (2) interdisciplinary and multi-method research and analytical skills. In turn, these skills will give you a competitive advantage in both your studies at UMass and in whatever career you enter once you graduate.

Ganesh board art by Tom Hamlyn

What's involved in getting the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate
You have to complete a total of 22 credits (or eight courses) that count toward both Asian Studies and Asian American Studies (each course that's listed in the "Current Courses" page also includes in parantheses whether it counts toward Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, or both). The most common path to completing the Certificate is to take Asian Studies 312 ("Bridging Asia and Asian America") early on, then two courses that count toward Asian Studies and two courses that count toward Asian American Studies (in any order you want), and then choose one of those two areas as your concentration and then take two more courses in that concentration. Finally, students generally take the second required course, Asian Studies 491A ("Senior Seminar") toward the end of their time at UMass.

Eight courses sound like a lot of work, doesn't it?
It may look like a lot of work, but many of the courses that count toward the Certificate are ones that you would probably take anyway for your Gen Ed or Diversity requirement, major, or minor. So you can double-count them and maximize your benefit from taking them.

How is this certificate different from the Five College Asian Pacific American Studies Certificate?
There are similarities between this Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate here at UMass with the Five College Asian Pacific American Studies Certificate (5CAPASC), but the main differences between the two are:

  • The 5CAPASC is mainly intended for students at the other Five College campuses that don't have their own Asian American Studies-related certificate programs (although UMass students are certainly welcome to participate as well).
  • The 5CAPASC focuses more specifically on Asian Americans, while this Certificate emphasizes the connections between Asia and Asian Americans.
  • Due to the expertise of faculty who teach courses in the 5CAPASC, its strengths tend to be based more in Humanities-related fields and disciplines, while this UMass Certificate is much broader in terms of its strengths and areas of expertise.

Is there a form that I need to fill out to sign up for the Certificate?
No, there are no enrollment or sign up forms to fill out. You really only need to check with Prof. C.N. Le, the Program Director, about which courses you've taken so far and which courses you still need to take in order to meet the requirements. Once you finish your last course (usually AS 491A, the Senior Seminar), Prof. Le submits your name to the Registrar's office to confirm your completion of the Certificate.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?
Call or email Prof. Le, the Program Director at 413-545-4074 or .