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!

Sarina Yuen (Class of 2020).
Current Position (as of November 1, 2020): Cultural Affairs Assistant, U.S. Consulate Hong Kong and Macau.

At the U.S. Consulate, I explain Hong Kong culture to American diplomats, develop cultural programmes, and cultivate partnerships to facilitate interactions between the people of Hong Kong and the United States. As an American Studies major, I learned about concepts such as cultural hybridization (societies built upon a blend of different cultures) and I took advantage of many international opportunities—spending a semester abroad in Canada and travelling around the United States.

Through my internship at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Hong Kong I was able to meet professionals across multiple industries and to learn about a variety of business and cultural sectors. Specifically, my work in government affairs and advocacy offered insight into a variety of social agendas. The American Studies Programme fostered an appreciation for cultural exchange—an enthusiasm which I have applied in my day-to-day job of enriching cultural interaction between the United States and Hong Kong. And the Programme helped me develop the skills necessary to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, allowing me to quickly adapt to a multi-cultural working environment.

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 Semester 1, 2020): Senior Research Assistant, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong (HKU).

The classes and readings in the American Studies Programme were some of my favorites 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), where I wrote dissertations that considered the experiences of marginalized groups. Outside of the university environment, and within my role as a high school history teacher, I have used my training in the discourses and theories of American Studies to foster a transpacific perspective when discussing contemporary Asian history.

Colin Chan Chi Mun (Class of 2016).
Current Position (as of January 4, 2021): Regional Air Freight Operations and Compliance Manager, Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding

I graduated from HKU in 2016 with a double major in American Studies and German. Currently, I work as the Regional Air Freight Operations and Compliance Manager at DHL, overseeing operational processes and quality within the Asia Pacific region. DHL was originally an American company and thus my training in U.S. history and culture has been quite useful in my current position.

The interdisciplinary and international nature of the American Studies Programme helped me develop a global perspective and it provided opportunities to explore the U.S. and its influence within multiple arenas. The multi-cultural understanding I acquired has helped me to develop strategies for effective intercultural communication which I have applied in my work at a multinational logistics company and with colleagues from America and all over the world. The programme also helped me become a more outspoken and confident person. The teaching staff nurtured a friendly and open-minded environment, encouraging students to think critically not just about the U.S. but also about local and global interactions, tolerance, and society more broadly. The awareness I gained about issues of gender and equal rights within the programme has encouraged me to seek out opportunities to work toward forms of diversity and inclusion, and to strive for effective change alongside my colleagues in the workplace and at the corporate level.

Janisa Hui (Class of 2013).
Current Position (as of January 4, 2021): Ph.D. Student in School Psychology in The College of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park.

I am a doctoral student in School Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I am passionate about promoting children’s socioemotional development. Prior to starting the Ph.D. program, I pursued a Master of Education (Ed.M.) in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University, focusing on the links between early socioemotional development and parenting. Additionally, I worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional in a U.S. public school and a Behavior Technician in the Greater Boston area.

The interdisciplinary approach of the American Studies Programme at HKU provided a solid foundation for me to work and study in the United States. As the topics of anti-racism and diversity are gaining attention in America, I feel well-equipped to fully engage in my class discussions in graduate school based on my in-depth knowledge in American history, politics, and cultures. Academic knowledge aside, my training in the American Studies Programme sharpened my critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which have proven to be valuable and transferrable within a competitive job market.

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