Asian Studies, M.A. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Program Description

This program is designed for students whose career goals require only the M.A. degree, as well as for those who want to continue in a major Ph.D. field but do not have the necessary language or area background.

Asian languages currently taught at Cornell are Bengali, Burmese, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Hindi-Urdu, Indonesian, Japanese, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Nepali, Sanskrit, Sinhalese, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

East Asian studies. Proficiency in speaking and reading Chinese, Japanese, or Korean is required. Each candidate must complete one year of full-time study (normally four courses each semester) in Asian studies. Students who have some previous language training will be directed to courses at the appropriate level and may, if they are advanced enough, complete the M.A. degree requirements in as little as one academic year.

South Asian studies. Proficiency in one or more South Asian languages, usually the equivalent of three years of nonintensive study, is required. An intensive summer program in Nepali is currently offered each summer.

Southeast Asian studies. Proficiency in one or more Southeast Asian languages, usually the equivalent of three years of nonintensive language study, is required. Proficiency can be obtained in two academic years plus one summer, or in two summers and one academic year. In addition to language study, each M.A. degree candidate is expected to successfully complete a minimum of eight one-semester courses.

Asian studies is available as a minor field of concentration for master's or doctoral degree candidates admitted to a major field of the Graduate School. Candidates selecting a minor in Asian studies should discuss language requirements with their Special Committee. Major and minor work is also offered in the social sciences, history, literature, and religion.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-9099

350 Rockefeller Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • East Asian linguistics (minor)
  • East Asian studies
  • South Asian linguistics (minor)
  • South Asian studies
  • Southeast Asian linguistics (minor)
  • Southeast Asian studies


2017-2018: $29,500

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, March 15

Requirements Summary:

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the field's brochures to determine if their research and study interests parallel those of current field faculty members; brochures are available on request from the graduate field office. Applicants are required to submit GRE general test scores.

  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • three recommendations
  • GRE general test; TOEFL for foreign nationals


Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will develop appropriate competence in an Asian language necessary for their research and/or applied objectives.
  2. Students will demonstrate significant knowledge of a particular humanistic. social-scientific, or applied area within a recognized Asian regional or national zone.
  3. Students will communicate effectively in written and spoken presentations.
  4. Students will uphold standards of academic integrity in their scholarly and/or applied research.

Assessment Criteria

Outcome #1  (Language competency)

  • Direct Measurements: Satisfactory completion of the second-semester of a third-year language course at Cornell or attestation by an appropriate Cornell faculty member of the student’s competency at that level.
  • Indirect measurements: participation and presentation at conferences using target languages; field projects in which an Asian language is successfully used; research papers drawing on primary materials.

Outcome #2 (Demonstration of Knowledge)

  • Direct Measurements: The master’s thesis content.
  • Indirect Measurements: successful completion of area courses; conference papers and publications.

Outcome #3 (Communication)

  • Direct Measurements:  the thesis document and its defense.
  • Indirect Measurements: classroom and conference presentations.

Outcome #4 (Academic Integrity)

  • Direct Measures: Number of infractions, appeals submitted to Academic Integrity Hearing Board.
  • Indirect Measures: Participation in ethics workshops; teaching evaluations (as applicable).