Asian Studies M.A. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Asian Studies

Program Description


This program is designed for students who did not major in Asian Studies as undergraduates or who want more work in language and area studies before entering the professional, business, or Ph.D. fields. One to two years of study is required, depending on language proficiency. The M.A. Field in Asian Studies is described at greater length below.

Requirements for completion of the M.A. degree

Graduate study at Cornell is centered around a close working relationship between the student and his or her committee, and especially the principal advisor (the chair of the committee). Thus students admitted to the Asian Studies field are strongly encouraged to meet with their advisor/chair very early in their first semester of matriculation to develop a cogent plan for attaining their academic goals.

The Graduate School requires that students fulfill two "residence units," i.e., two semesters of on-campus study. The Field requires proof of language competency, completion of certain coursework with satisfactory grades, and submission of a thesis.

The Field of Asian Studies has three concentrations, and each student will choose one: East Asian studies, South Asian studies, or Southeast Asian studies. Students are, however, welcome to work between these geographical boundaries as they attain mastery of the language(s) and culture of one.

Language competency: Language expertise is considered a prerequisite for doing competent research in any area of Asian Studies. Thus students should come to Cornell with that expertise or work toward it in the course of their academic training here. The Field expects all students to attain to a minimum of a second-year level competency by the completion of the M.A. degree. Most students will go beyond that level.

Coursework: A plan for appropriate coursework should be developed in consultation with one’s committee chair. All students must do at least two full-time semesters of coursework that usually includes 6–8 courses, and can consist of language classes, specialized courses in Asian Studies, disciplinary work outside of Asian Studies, seminars, and independent studies. Students must receive a grade of B or above in courses counted toward the degree.

The Field has the following minimal expectations:

5 courses must have at least 50% Asia content 3 courses must be at the 4000-level or above (i.e., advanced seminars or independent studies) these two requirements may overlap.

Thesis: All students will submit a final thesis on a project developed in consultation with their committees. The thesis may be a more developed version of a seminar paper or papers that has been expanded and subjected to additional revision and review. Theses are typically 40-50 pages or more in length.

The Graduate School requirements for the thesis are described on the “Thesis and Dissertation” web site at Students should consult the web site for guidelines regarding format, procedures, and deadlines regarding the online submission of the thesis and its defense.

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


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Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Feb. 1

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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop appropriate competence in an Asian language necessary for their research and/or applied objectives.
  • Demonstrate significant knowledge of a particular humanistic. social-scientific, or applied area within a recognized Asian regional or national zone.
  • Communicate effectively in written and spoken presentations.
  • Uphold standards of academic integrity scholarly and/or applied research.