American Studies HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU


The American Studies Programme at HKU prepares students for exciting careers that value communication, analysis, writing, research, and creativity. American Studies alumni have become leaders in both the private and public sectors, and many have successfully pursued postgraduate studies at top universities in Hong Kong, The United States, Canada, and The United Kingdom.

In today’s globalized job market, International Experience provides a competitive advantage. American studies majors have the opportunity to spend at least one semester abroad and to participate in the annual field trip (AMER2021) to the United States. Additionally, students are encouraged to complete a six-credit Internship , whether in Hong Kong or abroad (AMER3008). As an intern working with a North American company or an organization with close ties to North America, students gain first-hand exposure to the business culture and practices of the United States and Canada.

American Studies majors interested in pursuing a postgraduate degree are encouraged to complete an independent research project through either a one-semester (AMER2051) or two-semester (AMER3007) course. These courses offer a tailored program of study under the direct supervision of a faculty member, and they facilitate the completion of an extended research essay. The research material developed in these courses serves as an excellent writing sample for postgraduate applications.


Jenny Wenquan Xiao (Class of 2020).
Current Position (as of September 1, 2020): Ph.D. Student in Political Science at Columbia University in New York City.

In Summer 2020 I worked as a research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. Now (as of September 1, 2020), I am one week away from starting my Ph.D. in Political Science at Columbia University in New York City where I will focus on U.S.-China relations.

As a high-school graduate from mainland China, I knew I was interested in studying U.S.-China relations but I had very limited knowledge about American history and politics. The American Studies Programme really helped me gain a deeper understanding of American culture and society, and it prepared me for post-graduate studies focusing on America’s foreign relations.

One of the more impactful aspects of the Programme was the American Studies Field Trip to the United States led by Dr. Tim Gruenewald. This was my first visit to New York City and the hostel where we (the student group) stayed was right next to Columbia University. From the moment I stepped onto that university’s magnificent campus, I knew that the American Studies Programme had prepared me to pursue a post-graduate degree, and that Columbia University was where I was going to do just that…and now I am!

Darius Wong (Class of 2017).
Current Position (as of October 29, 2020): Library Assistant I, Chu Hai College of Higher Education, Hong Kong.

A defining moment for me was the opportunity to produce an extended essay within the American Studies Programme at The University of Hong Kong. Under supervision, I conducted research on the early cultural history of classical music radio broadcasts in the United States of America; this help me contextualize and better understand the musical training I received in my youth. The experience of researching and writing, in depth, on a topic of interest helped me realize both my passion for academic research and an exciting new career path: that of a library assistant.

Now, I provide reference services to college students and researches likewise pursuing in depth study on a variety of topics. The HKU American Studies Programme is where I truly felt I was able to flourish as a scholar. The opportunity to pursue innovative thinking in an inclusive environment is what I treasure the most from the American Studies Programme.

Karina Leung (Class of 2016).
Current Position (as of September 30, 2020): Master of Science (MSc) Student, School of Management, University College London (UCL).

After I graduated from HKU, I began working as a Human Resources Assistant at Sidley Austin LLP, a United States law firm with a branch in Hong Kong; after two years I accepted the position of Human Resources Coordinator at a Canadian bank, the Bank of Montreal Hong Kong Branch. Now, I am pursuing my Master of Science (MSc) Degree in Management at University College London (UCL).

My coursework in American Studies at HKU introduced me to the “work culture” of the United States and the wider North American continent, providing me with a competitive edge on the job market. Of particular consequence was my internship capstone course that allowed me to work at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida for a summer. I also learned about the importance of diversity and inclusion within the American workplace, and my familiarity with these practices was greatly appreciated by both of my employers after graduation. American Studies trains one to think globally; and it is this broad cultural perspective that has been of great benefit as I continue my post-graduate studies in London.

Kylie Lui (Class of 2016).
Current Position (as of September 20, 2020): Senior Research Assistant, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The classes and readings in American Studies were some of my favorite at HKU. The professors encouraged me to consider subjects both thoughtfully and critically; and they cultivated an inclusive and open-minded environment. This inspired me to pursue an academic and research career with an interest in the areas of gender representation, body empowerment, and disability studies.

I went on to complete both a Master of Arts (MA) in Literary and Cultural Studies at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), and a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge (Cantab). And my research has since become more focused on gender representation in popular culture within a transpacific arena. Even today, I apply the analytical skills I developed in American Studies to my work as a Senior Research Assistant at The University of Hong Kong.

Ada KOT Sze-hang (Class of 2001).
Current Position (as of September 24, 2020): Narrative Practitioner, Certified Counsellor at Sparkling Counseling & Consulting Services.

I double majored in American Studies and Psychology. My coursework in American Studies fostered an interest in narrative and a desire to understand cultural, political, and societal contexts as told through personal stories. This motived me to explore documentary filmmaking, and in 2015 I co-directed a documentary about two Hong Kong baseball families. The trust, tears, and laughs shared by the film’s protagonists inspired me to pursue a degree in counseling, better equipping me to serve as a companion for those in need.

The multicultural, postcolonial, and intersectional perspectives considered in American Studies laid the foundation for me to use narrative therapy as a primary counseling approach in my work with marginalized groups, including those with mental or emotional problems, special education needs, and South Asian youths in Hong Kong. Now, I am instructor of narrative therapy courses and a registered counsellor.

American Studies HKU