MA in Asian American Studies

Are you passionate about ethnic studies? Do you desire to effect social change as a community activist? Do you want to teach the next generation of engaged and aware students? The SFSU Asian American Studies Department is a leading MA program for those interested in:

  • Working in Asian American communities
  • Seeking careers in academia and in the public sector
  • Gaining more cross-cultural competencies
  • Learning cutting-edge theories in Asian American studies

As the largest Asian American Studies program in the US, our department has internationally renowned faculty in various academic disciplines. We provide a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum of community-based studies.

Our students receive close faculty mentorship in their field of study and career objectives. They can pursue emphases in career fields such as Public Health, Education, and Social Welfare. For their culminating projects, students may complete a thesis, a creative project, or a field project to support a local Asian American or Pacific Islander American community organization.


Our alumni have gone on to obtain doctorates at top-tier universities, work with non-profit agencies, and join educational, government, and corporate sectors. In 2017-18, fifteen of our graduates were teaching Asian American Studies at SF State, City College of SF, USF, and other local colleges.


For more information on our program, contact MA Chair/Coordinator– Professor Kira Donnell, PhD, at For more information on the application process, please see this link


The deadline for early admission is January 15th. Those submitting by this deadline will have an admission decision before March 15th, which will allow them to apply for housing and scholarship opportunities.


The final deadline is March 15th. Those submitting by the later deadline may not receive a decision in time to apply for other opportunities.


Contact: MA Chair/Coordinator– Professor Kira Donnell, PhD, at

MA Program:

The Master of Arts degree in Asian American Studies is designed, through disciplinary and interdisciplinary inquiries and analyses, to provide students with a critical knowledge of diverse Asian American communities. Students in Asian American Studies are encouraged to study a modern Asian language.

Career Options for Graduates:

The MA degree can be used to:

  1. Enhance work in the Asian American communities;
  2. Provide career opportunities in the Pacific Rim; in academia, and in the public sector; 
  3. Prepare for graduate studies or other professional degrees (e.g., MSW, MPH, JD, PhD).

Some of the doctorate programs that have admitted our MA graduates include: Alliant University, Claremont Graduate University, Michigan State University, San Francisco State University, Stanford University, University of California (Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Cruz), University of Hawai'i (Manoa), University of San Francisco, University of Texas (Austin, San Antonio), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Utah, and University of Washington.

Required Courses, Units, and Grades:

The Master of Arts program consists of thirty units in five modules. No more than six units are allowed in Directed Reading or Special Study or a combination of both. A student must perform satisfactorily in the first year of graduate study by maintaining a minimum grade of “B” in all courses taken toward the graduate degree or be subject to dismissal. CR/NC units are not acceptable for the degree. A graduate student in good standing must maintain a “B” (3.00) GPA throughout the course of study.

For more details about the required courses, including module information and classes, click here.

Admission to the Graduate Program:

Applicants must meet the general requirements for graduate program admission at San Francisco State University. Students apply for admission to both the Division of Graduate Studies at San Francisco State University and the Asian American Studies Department. At the university-level, applicants must demonstrate completion of their undergraduate degree with at least a 3.0 GPA.

At the department level, applicants will be evaluated on how they express:

  1. how the MA in AAS will contribute to their personal and professional goals;
  2. their background preparation in Asian American studies;
  3. their record of community service or student activism;
  4. their topic or specific area of interest;
  5. their research topics’ fit with current faculty expertise; and
  6. their research, writing, and analytical abilities.

Applicants must also demonstrate an undergraduate proficiency equivalent to three of the following five Asian American Studies courses offered at SF State University: AAS 320, AAS 330, AAS 350, AAS 360, AAS 370, and AAS 510.The student may be required to take additional courses to meet the minimum requirements and to seek additional program advising.

In addition to submitting the required paperwork to the Division of Graduate Studies, the following items should also be sent online:

  • A personal statement covering points 1 - 5 above;
  • A writing sample demonstrating research, writing, and analytical skills covering point 6 above;
  • A copy of all transcripts (in addition to the set submitted to Graduate Studies); and
  • Two letters of recommendation (at least one from a faculty member).

Submit the following online to the link below:

MA Applicants go here to apply: