Degree Requirements

All graduate students in the Department of Asian Studies are required to complete an annual report detailing their progress in the program. Annual reports are reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee each spring.

Master of Arts with a Major in Asian Studies

Students are required to take three semester hours of coursework in Asian history, in addition to either an additional three hours in Asian history or three hours in social sciences relating to their regional area of study. Students are also expected to show proficiency in a language relevant to their interests as determined by their adviser and mentor, either by completing six semester hours of advanced language study with a grade of at least B in each course, or by passing a proficiency examination.

Students may choose either the report option or the thesis option to conclude their master’s program. The report option consists of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including the report course, which is a three-hour, one-semester project in which the student conducts research and writes a report on a given topic. The thesis option consists of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including the thesis course, which is a six-hour, two-semester project in which the student does in-depth research on a given topic.

Students who choose the thesis option must take at least twelve hours of courses in their area of specialization, with no more than six hours in any one discipline (such as literature, religion, visual culture, etc.). Students who choose the report option must take at least fifteen semester hours of such electives, with no more than nine hours in any one discipline.

Up to nine hours of undergraduate upper-division coursework, including language coursework, may be counted toward the degree.

Master of Arts / Doctor of Philosophy with a Major in Asian Cultures and Languages

This program requires a minimum of forty-eight semester hours of coursework and consists of two phases. The first phase (master of arts) requires thirty semester hours of coursework, including the report course. Students must take at least three courses in their area of specialization—for example, in Japanese culture, Indian religion, or Chinese literature. They must also take one graduate course that introduces them to research methods of the appropriate discipline—for example, in historiography, ethnography, or literary theory/criticism—and another course in history or in the social sciences relating to their regional area of study. Up to nine hours of upper-division undergraduate coursework may be counted toward the master’s degree.

In December of the second year in the master’s program, students will receive a formal review to determine if they may continue on to the doctoral program. To complete the master’s degree phase, students are expected to show proficiency in a language offered by the Department of Asian Studies, either by completing six semester hours of advanced language study with a grade of at least B in each course or by passing a proficiency examination. To complete the master’s degree program, students must submit, in the last semester of their coursework (normally the fourth semester), a report that shows their ability to conduct independent research. Successful completion of this report is required for admission to the PhD phase.

The PhD phase of the program requires at least eighteen semester hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree, prior to the completion of dissertation courses. In total, MA/PhD students must complete at least twenty-four semester hours in the major and minor areas of specialization and six semester hours in theory and methodology related to the major and/or minor area(s). 

Students admitted directly to the PhD program must complete at least thirty semester hours of coursework in addition to the dissertation courses. Within their field of expertise (China, Japan, Korea, or South Asia), students must complete twenty-four semester hours in the major and minor areas of specialization, and six semester hours in theory and methodology related to the major and/or minor area(s). Areas of specialization must be approved by the graduate adviser and mentor.

All PhD students are expected to demonstrate fifth-year proficiency in one Asian language prior to defending the dissertation.

Competency in at least one modern foreign language that will be used in research is required. The research language may be a European language, such as French or German, or a modern Asian language. If the student chooses to study an Asian language as his or her research language, the language should be one that is pertinent to the student’s professional development, such as Hindi for students whose primary language of study is Sanskrit. The choice of language(s) and the required level of proficiency are determined by the mentor and dissertation supervisor in consultation with the graduate adviser.

To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must take comprehensive examinations in his or her area of specialization, pass a dissertation prospectus hearing, and demonstrate research-level proficiency in the language(s) of their field. Normally, students take their comprehensive examination, including an oral defense, in the third or fourth semester of the PhD phase.

After passing the comprehensive examination, the student, in consultation with the graduate adviser and graduate mentor, selects five faculty members to form a dissertation committee; the chair of the committee is the student’s dissertation supervisor. After passing the dissertation prospectus hearing, the student may advance to doctoral candidacy.

Published guidelines regarding the comprehensive examination, dissertation prospectus hearing, admission to candidacy, and completion of the dissertation are available from the Department of Asian Studies.

Dual Degree Programs

The Department of Asian Studies offers the following dual degree programs in cooperation with other divisions of the University. More information is available from the graduate adviser in each program.

Field(s) of Study Degree(s)
Business administrationMaster of Business Administration
Public affairsMaster of Global Policy Studies
Public affairsMaster of Public Affairs