College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Moore 324
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8570
Fax: (808) 956-4733



*Graduate Faculty

*E. Colwill, PhD (Chair)—cultural history, gender and sexuality, African diaspora, literary and cultural studies, slavery and colonialism
*W. Chapman, PhD—Historic preservation, architectural recording, materials conservation
*J. Eagle, PhD—film/media, gender studies, U.S. cultural history
*V. Gonzalez, PhD—American empire, tourism and militarism, gender and sexuality, ethnic and cultural studies
*N. Kahanu, JD—public humanities and Native Hawaiian programs
*K. Kosasa, PhD (Retired)—visual and cultural studies, museum studies, critical pedagogy
*L. J. Mariano, PhD—Filipino American studies, diaspora studies, Asian American studies
*B. McDougall, PhD—indigenous studies, literary studies
*D. Ogawa, PhD (Emeritus)—intercultural and Japanese American studies
*R. Perkinson, PhD—Southern and Western history, race and class, crime and punishment, American empire
*K. Sands, PhD—religion in America, religion and law, women in religion, Christian history, theory of religion
*D. Stannard, PhD (Emeritus)—social and cultural history, race and racism, colonialism and genocide
*J. Stanton, PhD (Emeritus)—culture and arts
*J. Tripp, PhD—U.S. – East Asia relations, American empire, U.S. and the world, Historic Preservation (U.S., Asia, Pacific)
*M. Yoshihara, PhD—U.S. cultural history, U.S.-Asian relations, Asian American studies, literary and cultural studies, gender studies

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 Museum Studies

The Academic Program

American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores American history, society, and culture. The program has particular strength in examining how American empire within the Pacific and Asia has been built, maintained, and challenged. The department offers a wide array of courses on topics such as race, gender, sexuality, Indigenous issues, slavery, migration, incarceration, labor, war, militarism, environmentalism, social justice movements, law, religion, film, media, music, visual arts, and education.

As the former home of American Quarterly, the flagship journal of the American Studies Association, the department is at the forefront of the latest scholarship in the field.

At the undergraduate level, students learn to think critically and to reflect on how American history, society, and culture have influenced their identities and beliefs. They also develop a strong sense of community and acquire advanced skills in writing and research, problem solving, civic discussion and leadership, effective communication and organization, negotiation, as well as cultural sensitivity and awareness. The interdisciplinary nature of the American Studies major opens doors to a wide range of sectors, including business, law, politics, journalism, government, education, social work, marketing, design, non-profit work, and the arts.

At the graduate level, students acquire advanced understanding of U.S. history, society, and culture and its relationship to the world; the genealogy of American Studies as a field; and theoretical frameworks and methodologies that have shaped the field. They develop expertise in their chosen areas in addition to an overall foundation in the field, and they learn to design and execute rigorous, original research using diverse archives and methods. The graduate program prepares students for careers in higher education as well as such fields as public humanities, museums, libraries, administration, publishing, and media. The department also houses the graduate certificate in Museum Studies.


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


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

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


Students must complete 30 credit hours, including:

  • 6 credit hours of AMST core courses, including AMST 383 and 484
  • 15 credit hours of AMST electives, of which at least 9 must be upper-division AMST courses
  • 9 remaining credit hours may include upper division courses in either AMST courses and/or allied humanities and social sciences courses (no more than 3 credit hours of 499 may be counted). Allied courses must be approved by the undergraduate advisor or be listed in the “pre-approved” allied course list on the department website.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to programsheets/.

Minor Requirements

Students must complete:

  • 15 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 Graduate Division, the applicant should have a Statement of Objectives and 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. Graduate 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: February 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 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 back of the Catalog are numbered and grouped as follows: 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 699V, 700V, and 800V are offered each semester; AMST 600 and 601 are offered annually, AMST 603 is offered every other year at minimum, 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 30 credit hours as follows:

Plan A (Thesis)

  • 3 core courses, including AMST 600, 601, and 603
  • 2 AMST graduate seminars
  • 3 AMST graduate seminars or electives
  • 2 Capstone (Thesis) AMST 700
  • thesis defense

Plan B (Non-thesis)

  • 3 core courses, including AMST 600 and 601
  • 3 AMST graduate seminars
  • 4 AMST graduate seminars or electives
  • written and oral examinations in two fields

More specific requirements are detailed on the American studies website at:

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 broad intellectual interests. In most instances, admission to the PhD program requires applicants to 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 45 credit hours including:

  • 3 core courses, including AMST 600, 601, and 603
  • 4 or more AMST graduate seminars
  • 5 or fewer graduate electives in other disciplines in a chosen field of specialization (one 400-level course permitted)
  • up to 9 credits of AMST 650

In individual cases and at the discretion of the graduate chair, some non-core requirements may be waived.

Students must also complete:

  • A qualifying examination with written and oral components
  • An oral comprehensive examination administered by the dissertation committee
  • A dissertation of high quality and its successful oral defense


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, Practice
  • 3 credit hours of AMST 684, Museums and Collections
  • 3 credit hours of AMST/EDCS 685, Museums and Education
  • 3 credit hours of AMST 686, Museum Studies Practicum
  • 6 credit hours of electives

A maximum of 6 credit hours may be applied to the Museum Studies Certificate and to another degree, pursued concurrently, subject to approval from the director of the certificate program, the director of the concurrent graduate program, and Graduate Division. Internships are usually undertaken with local museums and related institutions or organizations 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