Asian American Studies

What is Asian American Studies?

The Department of Asian American Studies at UCSB was the very first academic department dedicated to the study of Asian Americans at a major research university, and the first department in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian American Studies.

The Department offers undergraduate majors the opportunity to study and understand the experiences of Asian Americans, particularly their histories, communities, and cultures. Students learn to evaluate the existing literature in Asian American Studies, to analyze a variety of data on Asian Americans, to conduct original research, and to participate in internships and social justice issues.

A minor degree, Honors program, and community studies courses are also available to students. The Department provides a well-rounded, interdisciplinary curriculum which engages approaches from traditional disciplines, including history, sociology, anthropology, and literature, as well as from interdisciplinary scholarship in women's studies, law and society, public policy, global studies, social movements, cultural studies, and film and media studies.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Asian American Studies?
Students who are interested to learn about topics on critical race and resistance studies in Asian American societies would like this field of study. Additionally, Asian American Studies is easily integrated into interdisciplinary curriculums that advances the General Education goals of the university. Students who wish to gain the knowledge and skills to respond to the challenges facing a multicultural and globally interdependent world will gain the most from this major.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?
Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.
Asian American Personality and Identity
Third World Social Movements
Asian Americans and Public Policy
Asian Americans in Popular Culture
Science, Technology, and Asian America
Asian Pacific American Queer Issues
Television Production
Asian American Religions
Courses in history, literature, law, cultural studies, film, global studies, social movements, and religion—all in ways that link race and ethnicity to the study of gender, sexuality, class, and nation. Also offered are expressive arts courses in theater and performance, video making, and creative writing. Courses are pan-Asian, ethnic specific (e.g., Pilipino, South Asian), and racial comparative. In short, our courses help students sharpen their analytic skills, inspire their imagination, and engage broader political and social issues.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?
Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Asian American Studies majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fi elds. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

  • Anthropologists
  • Curators
  • Economists
  • Geographers
  • High School Teachers
  • Historians
  • Market Research Analysts
  • Museum Technicians and Conservators
  • Political Scientists
  • Sociologists
  • University and College Teachers
  • Writers
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.
See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn

Graduate and Professional Schools

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Professional Associations

National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP)
The National Association of Asian American Professionals is the largest and fastest growing Asian American professional organization in the U.S. and Canada.

Asian Professional Exchange (APEX)
Today, an organization exists to serve as that place where young Asian American professionals can explore new career paths, meet peers and leaders who impart insights from their experiences, and truly understand what "community" means.

Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) was founded in 1981 by a few Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) journalists who felt a need to support one another and to encourage more Asian American and Pacific Islanders to pursue journalism at a time when there were few Asian American and Pacific Islander faces in the media.

Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership
CAPAL truly hopes to honor those pioneering Asian Pacific American leaders and mentors who sacrificed so that future generations would have opportunities that they did not.

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students, providing a national network for its members and affiliates. NAPABA advocates for the legal needs and interests of the APA community and represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 47 local APA bar associations, with practice settings ranging from solo practices to large firms, corporations, legal services organizations, non-profit organizations, law schools, and governmental agencies.

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies
The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) is a non-profit, non-partisan, educational organization dedicated to increasing participation of individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office.

Association for Asian American Studies

National Association for Ethnic Studies

UCSB Resources

UCSB Library Asian American Studies Collection

Asian American Studies Departmental Web Page

Asian Resource Center
The mission of the Asian Resource Center is to educate, promote, and encourage the interaction and dialogue among the diverse ethnic groups within the Asian American community at UCSB.

UCSB General Catalog

Career Resource Room

UCSB Office of Student Life

UCSB Minors