Asian studies degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels. Study abroad or field research opportunities in an Asian country are often encouraged or required. Some specialization areas include, but are not limited to Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Asian history or politics.
Application requirements differ depending on the degree level. Prospective bachelor's students are generally encouraged to be familiar with an Asian language. In contrast, most graduate programs require that prospective students demonstrate proficiency in an Asian language as part of their entrance requirements. Prospective graduate students are also required to submit academic transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and writing samples. Students who would like to enter a master's program should already possess a bachelor's degree in Asian studies. In addition, certain schools will only accept Ph.D. candidates who also went through the master's degree program at that school.
Graduate students are required to complete a thesis or doctoral dissertation, including field research, as part of their program.
Bachelor's Degree in Asian Studies
Students interested in majoring in Asian studies have the option of a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree program. These degree programs are formatted to be highly interdisciplinary in content. A wide range of topics are studied, including Asian languages, literature, art, cultures and religions.
Students are expected to reach an advanced intermediate level with an Asian language such as Japanese, Chinese or Korean as a result of their bachelor's degree studies. Many schools also require students to participate in a study abroad program in an Asian country before graduation.
Courses found within the major include:
- East Indian, Chinese, and Japanese media (includes art, literature, music, cinema, etc.)
- Asian politics and economics
- Buddhist philosophy
- History of the Vietnam War
- American/Asian relations
- Contemporary Chinese culture
Master's Degree in Asian Studies
At the master's level, degree programs in Asian studies tend to focus on a specific area of Asia. This degree program allows students to further develop their multidisciplinary knowledge in a wide range of Asian topics. Students examine topics such as Asian economics, linguistics, performing arts, natural resources and geography.
Coursework comes from a variety of different departments, such as anthropology, history and political science. Certain schools also require students to participate in writing seminars.
Typical master's-level courses include:
- Southeast Asian economics and ethnology
- Hindu art and architecture
- Indonesian and Filipino dictators
- Asian dramatic cultures
- Chinese archaeology
Ph.D. in Asian Studies
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree programs are formatted to concentrate on one specific country, area or subject. This program provides students with extensive knowledge about other areas and topics resulting in graduates who are well-rounded experts in all things Asian. Topics covered include history, economics and politics as well as advanced language skills in one Asian language and intermediate language skills in a second Asian language.
The curriculum of the Asian Studies Ph.D. degree program consists of upper-level courses in a variety of Asian-related subjects. Students are also expected to construct a final doctoral dissertation project and perform field research, often in the country or area of their expertise.
Ph.D. students take courses in the following areas:
- Asian international politics, economics, and relations
- Contemporary Asian security problems
- South Asian health policies
- Bangladesh and Pakistan
- East Asian Colonialism and Modernism
- Current Korean historiography
The broad nature of the bachelor's degree in Asian studies is reflected by the wide selection of career directions. Asian studies majors often double major with a second degree in business, law, anthropology, journalism or another area in which they plan to pursue a career. Graduates of an Asian studies program seek employment in the following positions:
- Foreign consultant
- Foreign service officer
- International banker
The knowledge acquired from a master's degree in Asian studies is applicable to many different professions involving Asia. Some schools offer students the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctor or Master of Business Administration as a joint degree with Asian studies, opening doors to other professions, which involve a relationship with Asian nations and cultures. Occupational fields available to graduates of an Asian studies master's degree include:
- International business
- International law
- Governmental agencies
Employment Options and Salary Info
Career options available to graduates of a Ph.D. in Asian studies include becoming a professor, a diplomat or an international journalist. Earnings for professors vary by level of education, experience and type of school. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median salary for post-secondary area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers of $74,440 in May of 2018, including teachers who also performed research (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported during the same time that full-time area, ethnic, and cultural studies professors in the top ten percent averaged a salary of $153,790.
Broadcast news analysts, correspondents and reporters also earn a wide range of salaries; BLS statistics show the middle 50% of broadcast news analysts earned a median salary of $66,880 per year in 2018, and reporters and correspondents earned $41,260. The top 10% of reporters and correspondents earned a median salary of $100,930 in May of 2018, and the top 10% of broadcast news analysts were paid over $200,180, according to BLS data.
Programs in Asian studies are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and often combine traditional coursework with internships, study abroad opportunities and language training. After graduation, individuals might pursue a career in education or journalism.