Opportunities For Students

Welcome to Asian American Studies! As a small department and one committed to issues of equality and social justice in the study of race, we offer some exciting opportunities for students. 

Honors Program

Students have the opportunity to develop an original research project by participating in our Theory and Methods course (AS AM 175 in Fall quarter) and carrying out a research project under the mentorship of our professors. Given our department’s commitments to scholarship, community, the arts, and interdisciplinarity, the honors project can be an academic research paper, a community studies project, or an artistic endeavor. This is an intense commitment, requiring about a year’s work, but one that allows students to develop skills (and a writing sample) for graduate school and/or research skills, analytic thinking, and creativity used in many jobs and areas of life.

Community Studies Program

Students can engage with critical social issues in the local community through our student leadership/social justice course and mini-internship (AS AM 163 in Winter quarter). There is also an option for a quarter-long internship during the Spring, Summer, or Fall (AS AM 197). As internship sites, we are developing partnerships with community-based organizations in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, or students can develop their own internship placements. In addition, some courses (e.g,. ASAM 107, ASAM 113) regularly offer a service-learning component.

The Arts

Our department offers a number of expressive arts courses, including video making, theater performance, and creative writing. Our theater course just celebrated its 20th performance of PLAYSIA in Spring 2010. Whether aspiring to be a professional artist/writer/actor/filmmaker, or just wanting to gain skills such as public speaking and writing, while expanding your imagination, engaging in role playing, and having fun, these are great courses to take.

Social Science and Humanities

We offer a number of courses in history, literature, law, social movements, sociology, education, religion, and pop culture. Our courses are pan-Asian, racial/ethnic comparative, multiracial, and ethnic specific (Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese Americans). Students gain analytic skills to think critically about issues of race, class, nation, gender, and sexuality. We also offer numerous courses focusing on gender issues.

Other Research and Coursework Opportunities

  • Within the Department, students can serve as a research assistant to a professor (ASAM 199RA) or conduct their own research project (ASAM 199).
  • The College of Letters and Science offers its own honors programs; see http://www.honors.ltsc.ucsb.edu/. We encourage students to participate in both the Departmental and the College honors programs.
  • Student can apply for research grants through the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities or see a listing of faculty research.
  • First-year students can take 1-unit Freshman Seminars to explore a variety of engaging topics in a seminar setting designed to facilitate student-faculty interaction and discussion.

Campus Life and Resources


  • Graduating seniors are encouraged to apply for our Department awards for academic achievement, community service and social justice, and artistic achievement as well as the highest departmental honor, the Sucheng Chan Distinguished Achievement Award.
  • Academic Achievement Award (Majors Only) - This award is given to the graduating Asian American Studies major with the highest Asian American Studies GPA through Winter term. In addition to the cover letter, please submit an unofficial transcript.
  • Yuri Kochiyama Activism and Community Service Award (Major/ Minors) - This award is given to a graduating Asian American Studies major/ minor who has performed exemplary community service over a period of time. Applications for this award should be accompanied by some documentation regarding the nature of the activism or community service.
  • Artistic Achievement Award (Major/ Minors) - This award is given to a graduating Asian American Studies major/minor with a strong record of artistic achievement. Applications for this award should be accompanied by an unofficial transcript, a description of any extra-curricular activities and samples of the artist’s work. Preference will be given to students whose art reflects major themes in Asian American Studies and the experience of Asian Americans.
  • Sucheng Chan Distinguished Achievement Award (Majors Only) - This award is given to a graduating Asian American Studies major with a strong record of achievement in academics and extra-curricular activities. Applications for this award should be accompanied by an unofficial transcript and a description of the extra-curricular activities.
  • Shig Katayama Memorial Scholarship Fund (Major/ Minors) - This award is given to undergraduate students who meet at least two of the following criteria: 
    • Asian American Studies major or minor
    • Planning on writing, or in the process of writing, a senior thesis focused on Japanese America Studies
    • Currently taking, or going into upper division coursework, as a continuing student
    • Making normal progress toward a degree, in good standing with a minimum GPA of 3.5
    • Focus on attending law school, policy school or graduate school, with a particular emphasis on advanced research in Asian American Studies.
  • The Fund will support both the scholarship and the expenses associated with awarding the scholarship (for example, event expenses, equipment, travel, and/or printing and mailing). Travel could be associated with conference costs or research trips. Please submit a letter of interest (i.e. why you are interested, why you would be eligible). No cover letter is need for this specific scholarship. Recommended for those interested in pursuing advance degrees beyond a B.A. or B.S. For more details on how to apply, visit HSSB 5044.
  • There are a variety of other college, university, and national awards for scholarship, leadership, and service for graduating seniors; see the Office of Student Life and College Honors websites.

Contacting the Department

For more information, please see our Undergraduate Advisor in HSSB 5044. Feel free to stop by between 9-12 and 1-4, or make an appointment (9-10:30 or 1-3:30). Just contact 805.893.8039.
Also, feel free to talk to our Department Chair, Lisa Park, or any of our faculty about our courses and opportunities in the department.

For Asian American Studies Majors and Minors

    • Please do check your “umail” account (or forward your umail emails), as our department regularly sends information by email.
    • Please stop by to have your photo taken for our Majors/Minors Board.
    • We hire departmental Peer Advisors in late Spring or early Fall.
    • Our departmental graduation ceremony for AS AM majors is held in the late afternoon on the Saturday of commencement weekend. Please save the date.