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American Studies

College of Arts and Humanities
Moore 324
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8570
Fax: (808) 956-4733
E-mail: amstuh@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/amst/


*Graduate Faculty

*D. Ogawa, PhD (Chair)—intercultural and Japanese American studies
W. Chapman, PhD—historic preservation
*T. Gonzalves, PhD—Asian American culture, history, and politics, ethnic and cultural studies, performing arts
*M. Helbling, PhD—literature, African American studies, and cultural theory
*J. Hughes, PhD—politics and women’s studies
*K. Kosasa, PhD—visual and cultural studies, museum studies, critical pedagogy
*F. Matson, PhD—social thought, film and popular culture
*R. Perkinson, PhD—southern and western history, race and class, crime and punishment, American empire
*D. Stannard, PhD—social and cultural history, race and racism, theory and methold
*K. Tehranian, PhD—cultural, arts, environment, and society
*M. Yoshihara, PhD—Asia relations, colonialism and orientalism, women’s and gender studies, literary and cultural studies

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

J. Stanton, PhD—culture and arts
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
A. Kikumura-Yano, PhD—Japanese-American studies, Asian American studies, museum studies
W. Murtagh, PhD—historic preservation
P. Spickard, PhD—multicultural studies
F. Tang, MA—Asian American relations
K. Yamazato, PhD—American literature and culture

Degrees and Certificates Offered: BA (including minor) in American studies, MA in American studies (including dual AMST/MLISc MA), PhD in American studies, Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation, Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies

The Academic Program

Since its inception in the 1930s, American studies (AMST) has offered an integrated multidisciplinary exploration of the historical and contemporary American experience. This involves the study of American popular and high culture; environmental issues; institutional structures, including political and economic institutions; systems of thought and belief; and gender, ethnic, racial, and cross-cultural relationships. A combination of historical, literary, social-scientific, and other methodological approaches is used. In addition to such traditional aims, American studies at UH Manoa also explores the role of Hawai‘i, the Pacific, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, other parts of the world within the American experience, an objective that imparts a cross-cultural dimension to its program and differentiates it significantly from most other programs in the field.

At the undergraduate level, American studies offers a balanced general education experience, as well as excellent preparation for both advanced study in the field and professional studies ranging from law to travel industry management. Advanced degrees are intended primarily as preparation for college and university-level teaching, but recipients are also engaged in such activities as journalism, library management, business administration, and government service. A dual MA can be taken in cooperation with the Library and Information Science Program. In addition to regular degrees, graduate certificates are offered in Historic Preservation and Museum Studies.


The department is affiliated with the American Studies Association, National Council of Preservation Education, and National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The undergraduate adviser advises all undergraduate majors, and the graduate chair advises all graduate students.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


Students must complete 30 credit hours, including:

  • 21 credit hours of upper division courses, including AMST 381, 382, and 481
  • 9 remaining credit hours may include allied humanities and social sciences courses (no more than 3 credit hours of 499 may be counted). These courses must be approved by the undergraduate adviser.

Minor Requirements

Students must complete 15 credit hours, including:

  • AMST 381 and 382
  • 9 credit hours of 300- or 400-level American studies electives

Graduate Study

Application Requirements

Applicants for graduate programs should present an academic record indicating a broad range of study in the humanities and the social sciences with an emphasis on American culture. In addition to the admission requirements of the Graduate Division, the applicant should have a copy of his/her latest GRE scores, Graduate Program Supplemental Information form, Statement of Objectives, and at least two letters of recommendation sent directly to the Department. Each letter of recommendation should have the “Waiver of Access to Confidential Letters/Statements” form attached to it. PhD applicants are also required to submit a writing sample, preferably a paper that was written for a graduate course. Applications for graduate admission are considered for either fall (September-December) or spring (January-May) semester. Application deadlines for local and mainland applicants are: March l for fall; September l for spring. Application deadlines for foreign applicants are: January 15 for fall; August 1 for spring. There is no summer admission to advanced degree programs in the Graduate Division. There is an application fee.

Proficiency in a foreign language is not required unless it is necessary for dissertation research. Students having a special career interest in Asia may select courses offered in the Asian studies program to satisfy some degree requirements in American studies.

Courses for the graduate program are to be selected from among the courses listed in the back of the Catalog, from appropriate American studies graduate courses and upper division and graduate courses in related fields. Consent of the departmental graduate chair is required for enrollment in all undergraduate courses and all graduate courses in other fields. The courses listed in the “Courses” section of the Catalog are numbered and grouped as follows: 500, Master’s Plan B/C Studies; 600–609, introductory courses; 610–689, fields of study courses; 690–699, special topics courses; and 700–800, thesis and dissertation research. AMST 500V, 699V, 700V, and 800V are offered each semester; AMST 600, 601 and 602 are offered annually, and most other 600-level courses are offered once every three years.

Master’s Degree

MA candidates are expected to possess the BA degree and have a background knowledge of American culture.


MA students may select either the Plan A or Plan B program. Students must complete 33 credit hours as follows:

Plan A (Thesis)

  • 6 credit hours of AMST 700
  • 18 credit hours in courses numbered 600 and above, including AMST 600, 601, 602 and a graduate seminar course
  • 9 credit hours in a chosen field of specialization
  • oral examination

Plan B (Non-thesis)

  • 18 credit hours in courses numbered 600 and above, including AMST 600, 601, 602 and a graduate seminar course
  • 15 credit hours in a chosen field of specialization
  • written and oral examinations

More specific requirements are detailed on the American Studies Department’s website at: www.hawaii.edu/amst.

Doctoral Degree

PhD candidates are expected to possess the MA degree in American Studies or its equivalent and should have a scholarly attainment of a high order and widespread intellectual interests. In most instances, admission to the PhD program requires applicants possess an MA degree. However, occasionally an applicant with a BA and exceptionally strong credentials may be admitted directly into the doctoral program.


Students must complete 48 credit hours including:

  • 18 credit hours in courses numbered 600 and above, including AMST 600, 601 and 602 and a graduate seminar course
  • 30 credit hours in a chosen fields of specialization

Students must also complete:

  • A qualifying examination consisting of two written parts covering the two areas of specialized fields of student’s choice and an advanced graduate syllabus followed by an oral examination dealing with all three areas
  • An oral comprehensive examination administered by the dissertation committee
  • A dissertation of high quality and its successful oral defense


Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation

Candidates for the Certificate in Historic Preservation must possess a BA degree. The Certificate in Historic Preservation combines course work and applied experience.


Students must complete 15 credit hours of graduate course work:

  • 3 credit hours of AMST 675, Preservation: Theory and Practice
  • 3 credit hours of AMST 695, Historic Preservation Practicum
  • 3 credit hours of ANTH 645, Historic Preservation
  • 6 credit hours in field of specialization

A maximum of 6 credit hours may be applied simultaneously to the historic preservation certificate and to another degree. Internships are usually undertaken with local firms and organizations that have a preservation interest or with individuals who are qualified to direct independent work in preservation. The program concludes with a formal colloquium presentation. More information is available on the Historic Preservation Program’s website at www.hawaii.edu/amst/historic.htm.

Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies

Candidates for the Certificate in Museum Studies must possess a BA degree. The Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program provides an opportunity to learn about museums, acquire professional experience, and develop research skills.


Students must complete 18 credit hours of graduate course work:

  • 3 credit hours of AMST 683, Museums: Theory, History and Practice
  • 3 credit hours of AMST 684, Museums and Collections
  • 3 credit hours of AMST 685, Museums and Communities
  • 3 credit hours of AMST 686, Museum Studies Practicum
  • 6 credit hours of electives

A maximum of 6 credit hours may be applied simultaneously to the Museum Studies Certificate and to another degree. Internships are usually undertaken with local museums and related institutions or ogranizations and under the direction of a supervisor qualified to direct independent work in a museum related project. The program concludes with a formal colloquium presentation. For more information, see www.hawaii.edu/amst/.

AMST Courses