Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies

About the Program

The Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies is designed to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of the experiences of people of color. The program provides training in techniques for the analysis of historical and contemporary social issues related to these experiences and the curriculum develops students’ capacity to structurally assess, plan, and evaluate social policies aimed at the resolution of these issues. Although the focus remains primarily on the condition of Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinas/os/x, and American Indians, the program is increasingly concerned with mixed-race studies, sexuality studies, diaspora studies, postcolonial criticism, theories of racial formation, the experiences of multiple communities of color, theories/practices of resistance, and social movements.

The Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies is designed to prepare individuals for advanced graduate work leading to the doctorate or professional roles in teaching, research, and administration within both the public and private sectors. The theoretical and conceptual tools of several disciplines are critically utilized and analyzed. The program applies cutting-edge analyses, such as cultural studies, postcolonial, feminist and queer perspectives, to instruction, research, and community involvement. Both scholarly and activist engagements with the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area communities of color are encouraged and expected.

The Master of Arts Program in Ethnic Studies is an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary graduate research that empowers students to continue their commitment to social justice through both scholarship and community engagement.

Admission to the Program

Applicants must meet the general University requirements, along with the College of Ethnic Studies requirements:

  • Possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in a field related to the program as determined by the Graduate Admissions Committee.
  • Possess a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted.
  • Must have completed a minimum of 12 semester (16 quarter) units in Ethnic Studies-related coursework or have comparable experience.

The following application materials must be submitted via Cal State Apply:

  • College transcripts
  • Statement of purpose outlining background experiences and possible community involvement, career objectives, research interests, a rationale for pursuing Ethnic Studies, how undergraduate degree relates to the M.A. in Ethnic Studies, and a biographical statement
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who have direct knowledge of the applicant’s scholastic ability and commitment to the field of Ethnic Studies
  • An 8-15 page writing sample (such as a research paper) that best reflects the applicant's ability to conduct graduate school-level research
  • A current vita/resume

Applications are accepted for fall semester admissions only. The application deadline is February 1st.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will interrelate the foundations of American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Africana Studies and Latina/Latino Studies by developing annotated bibliographies that critically assess legacies of colonization and empire.
  2. Students will apply Ethnic Studies methodologies to preparing a research proposal.
  3. Students will design and conduct a culminating research project (thesis or field of study) that employs the research skills necessary to access Ph.D. programs or enter professional roles in teaching, research, and administration within both the public and private sectors.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

Level One written English proficiency must be met through satisfactorily meeting the writing requirements in ETHS 710.

Level Two

Students must indicate a method of demonstrating their further competency in English at the time of filing the Advancement to Candidacy. The latter assessment of competence is evidenced by the writing of a field study or a master's thesis.

Advancement to Candidacy

To file for the Advancement to Candidacy, students must have completed at least 18 units toward the degree, but no later than the semester prior to beginning the Culminating Experience. The ATC requires a grade point average of 3.0 or better. Before filing the ATC, students must demonstrate proficiency in written English and complete any other program pre-candidacy requirements. The proposed course of study when approved by the dean of Graduate Studies means the student has been advanced to candidacy.

Ethnic Studies (M.A.) — Minimum 30 units

ETHS 710Theories and Issues in Ethnic Studies3
AA S 800Theory and History in Asian American Studies3
AFRS 705Seminar in Africana Studies3
AIS 701Seminar in American Indian Studies3
LTNS 707Seminar in Latina/o Studies3
ETHS 720Research Methods in Ethnic Studies3
ETHS 750Ethnic Studies Community Practicum3
or ETHS 885 Graduate Projects in the Teaching of Ethnic Studies
Two Area of Emphasis Courses 16

Culminating Experience (3 units)

Select one on advisement:

ETHS 895Field Study3
or ETHS 898 Master's Thesis

Area Emphasis: Students are required to focus on an area of emphasis in Africana Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Latina/Latino Studies, or Race and Resistance Studies. Courses selected to fulfill the emphasis will provide a student with the subject matter foundation to complete the culminating research project field study or thesis. Upon advisement, upper-division/graduate course work in the College of Ethnic Studies and other departments on campus may be used.