Master of Arts in the Field of Asian Studies

The Elliott School’s Asian Studies degree program trains students to navigate the dynamic environment that is Asia, a continent whose diverse populations drive its changing needs and roles in the global arena. The curriculum prepares students to keep pace with a region on the path to sustained economic development as urban migration and international trade are exploding. Graduates of the program are equipped to address complex diplomatic, economic, security, and cultural issues coupled with an unprecedented rate of growth.

Specific admission requirements are shown on the Graduate Program Finder.

Prerequisite: a bachelor’s degree in a related field and at least two years of study of an appropriate Asian language

The multidisciplinary program requires 40 credits including: 

9 credits in core courses
9 credits in regional specialization
9 credits in thematic or professional specialization
9 credits in electives
4 credits in capstone course sequence
Foreign language proficiency

All Elliott School master's degree students (except MIPP students) are required to complete the capstone. Those students who wish to complete a thesis must do so in addition to the capstone requirement. Students pursuing a thesis need a minimum of a 3.5 GPA and approval from the faculty member they wish to have serve as their thesis director. Thesis students also need to complete at least one research methods course. Thesis credits will be counted as elective or specialization credits with Program Director approval.

As part of the degree requirements, students must select a regional specialization from the following:

  • East Asia;
  • South Asia; or
  • Southeast Asia

Students must select a thematic or professional specialization from the following:

  • Thematic specialization includes: 
    • History of Modern Asia; 
    • Politics and Policy in Asia; 
    • International Relations of Asia; 
    • Asian Business and Development; or 
    • Culture, Art, and Religions of Asia
  • Professional specialization includes: 
    • Conflict and Conflict Resolution;
    • International Development;
    • International Economics;
    • Political Economy and Business;
    • International Health Policy;
    • International Organization, Diplomacy, and Globalization;
    • International Security Policy
    • Research Methods; or
    • Science, Technology, and International Affairs

Note: Courses selected for the regional specialization cannot overlap with those taken for thematic or professional specializations.

Program Requirements

9 credits in core courses
Two of the following:
HIST 6601Topics: Asian History
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies (Asian Business and Development)
One of the following:
PSC 6475International Politics of East Asia
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies (International Relations of South Asia)
9 credits in a regional specialization chosen from one of the regional specializations below
Courses selected for the regional specialization cannot overlap with those taken for thematic or professional specializations.
9 credits in a thematic or professional specialization as detailed below
Courses taken for the thematic specialization cannot overlap with those taken for the required regional specialization.
9 credits in electives
Students may use additional credits for foreign language or background coursework or one-credit skills courses. The Elliott School's skills courses are designed to supplement substantive graduate coursework with practical skills and knowledge that students need to perform effectively in the workplace. A maximum of three one-credit skills courses may be taken in this M.A. program.
4 credits in capstone course sequence
IAFF 6898Capstone Workshop
IAFF 6899Capstone Course
Foreign Language Proficiency
Students in the M.A. regional studies programs are required to fulfill their foreign-language requirement by passing a reading and speaking proficiency examination administered by the Elliott School at the currently required level of proficiency. All M.A. regional studies students are required to pass both the reading and speaking parts of the language examination; advanced-level language coursework during or prior to enrollment at GW cannot substitute. Foreign-language proficiency examinations will continue to be offered during the fall and spring semesters. Students may take the examination at any point during their enrollment. Effective immediately, students in all programs (including regional studies) no longer have to wait until the completion of 20 credits to take the proficiency examination. Students will have three opportunities to pass the proficiency examination administered by the Elliott School. Failure to pass the exam for a third time will result in dismissal from the program.
Independent Study
If a core course is not offered during a student's time at GW, or if a student wishes to study a topic on which no course are offered at GW, that student may confer with the director of Asian Studies regarding the possibility of pursuing an independent study with a member of GW's faculty.

Regional Specializations

East Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
ECON 6269Economy of China I
ECON 6271Economy of Japan
HIST 6611Readings Seminar: 20th-Century China
HIST 6621Readings Seminar: Modern Japanese History
HIST 6630Spec Topics in Korean History (Modern Korea)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (The Chinese Military)
IAFF 6302Taiwan: Internal Development and Foreign Policy
LAW 6536Law of Japan *
LAW 6543Law of the People's Repub/Chin *
PSC 6368Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy
PSC 6370Politics of China I
PSC 6371Politics of the PRC 2
PSC 6372Foreign Policy of the PRC
PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia
PSC 6374Korean Politics
PSC 6489Topics in International Relations (U.S. China Relations)

South Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
AH 6270Special Topics in Art History (Modern Contemporary South Asian Art)
AH 6270Special Topics in Art History (Textiles and Politics in South Asia)
ENGL 6560Postcolonialism
HIST 6001Special Topics (Geography and Politics of Afghanistan and South & Central Asia)
IAFF 6118Special Topics in International Affairs (Pakistan and the Radical Islamic Threat)
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies (International Relations of South Asia)
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies (Politics of Finance in India and China)
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies (Society, Culture and Politics of South Asia)
IAFF 6305U.S.-South Asia Relations
PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics (Stability and Conflict in South Asia)
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics (Politics of Development in South Asia)
REL 6557India's Great Epics (The Mahabharata)
REL 6557India's Great Epics (The Ramayana)

Southeast Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following
IAFF 6138Special Topics in International Development Studies (Development Issues in Southeast Asia)
HIST 3035The United States and the Wars in Indochina, 1945–1975
HIST 6641Modern Southeast Asia
PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia

Thematic Specializations

History of Modern Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
HIST 6001Special Topics (Gender and Subjectivity in East Asia)
HIST 6001Special Topics (Japan's Empire and Its Legacies)
HIST 6611Readings Seminar: 20th-Century China
HIST 6621Readings Seminar: Modern Japanese History
HIST 6630Spec Topics in Korean History (Modern Korea)
HIST 6641Modern Southeast Asia (Geography and Politics of Afghanistan and South & Central Asia)

Politics and Policy in Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
A. Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy and Law
AH 6270Special Topics in Art History
ENGL 6560Postcolonialism
IAFF 6302Taiwan: Internal Development and Foreign Policy
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies (Society, Culture and Politics of South Asia)
LAW 6536Law of Japan *
LAW 6543Law of the People's Repub/Chin *
PSC 6368Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy
PSC 6370Politics of China I
PSC 6371Politics of the PRC 2
PSC 6374Korean Politics
B. Security and Military Policy
IAFF 6118Special Topics in International Affairs (Pakistan and the Radical Islamic Threat))
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (The Chinese Military)
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics (Stability and Conflict in South Asia)
PSC 6467Asian Security

International Relations of Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
IAFF 6302Taiwan: Internal Development and Foreign Policy
IAFF 6305U.S.-South Asia Relations
IAFF 6308Intl Relations of South Asia
PSC 6467Asian Security
PSC 6372Foreign Policy of the PRC
PSC 6475International Politics of East Asia
PSC 6489Topics in International Relations (U.S. China Relations)

Asian Business and Development Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
ECON 6269Economy of China I
ECON 6271Economy of Japan
IAFF 6318Special Topics in Asian Studies
PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics (Politics of Development in South Asia)

Culture, Art, and Religions of Asia Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
AH 6270Special Topics in Art History (Modern Contemp South Asian Art)
AH 6270Special Topics in Art History (Textiles and Politics in South Asia)
ENGL 6560Postcolonialism
REL 6557India's Great Epics (The Mahabharata)
REL 6557India's Great Epics (The Ramayana)

Professional Specializations

Conflict and Conflict Resolution Specialization

Required
IAFF 6171Introduction to Conflict Resolution
Electives
At least two of the following:
ANTH 6507Nationalism and Ethnicity
GEOG 6224Seminar:Political Geography
HIST 6822Nationalism in the Middle East
IAFF 6118Special Topics in International Affairs (Theory and Practice of International Negotiation)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Conflict Mitigation and Resolution in Africa)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Food, Globalization, and Conflict)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (The Military and Post-conflict Intervention)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Responses to Terrorism)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (War to Peace Transition)
MGT 6215Conflict Management and Negotiations
PPSY 6103Political Violence and Terrorism
PSC 6349International Security Politics
PSC 6351Civil-Military Relations
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics (Nationalism in Former Soviet Republics)
PSC 6442Politics and Practice of International Institutions
PSC 6444Politics of International Law
PSC 6476The Arab-Israeli Conflict

International Development Specialization

Required
IAFF 6122Development Policy and Practice
Elective
At least two of the following:
A. Anthropology
ANTH 6301The Anthropology of Development
ANTH 6302Issues in Development
ANTH 6331Research Methods in Development Anthropology
ANTH 6391Anthropology and Contemporary Problems
ANTH 6506Topics in Medical Anthropology
ANTH 6507Nationalism and Ethnicity
ANTH 6591Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology
ECON 6291Methods of Demographic Analysis
or GEOG 6291 Methods of Demographic Analysis
or STAT 6291 Methods of Demographic Analysis
PPPA 6006Policy Analysis
B. Environment
EMSE 6200Policy Factors in Environmental and Energy Management
GEOG 6222Seminar: Resources and the Environment
GEOG 6223Seminar: Population and Health
GEOG 6230Seminar: Environmental Issues in Development
GEOG 6250Geographical Perspectives on Development
IAFF 6151Environmental Policy
PPPA 6066Environmental Policy
PHIL 6281Environmental Philosophy and Policy
C. Humanitarian Assistance
EMSE 6305Crisis and Emergency Management
EMSE 6320International Disaster Management
GEOG 6224Seminar:Political Geography
PUBH 6401Comp Regional Determinants
PUBH 6430Theories for Global Health Communication Interventions
PUBH 6442Comparative Global Health Systems
PUBH 6503Introduction to Public Health Communication and Marketing
D. International Development Management
IBUS 6402Managing in Developing Countries
PPPA 6025Ethics and Public Values
PPPA 6057International Development Administration
PPPA 6058International Development NGO Management
PPPA 6059International Development Management Processes and Tools
SMPA 6250Topics in Media Processes and Institutions ((Media in the Developing World)
E. International Education
EDUC 6100Experimental Courses (Technology and Development in International Education)
EDUC 6601International and Comparative Education
EDUC 6602Regional Studies in International Education
EDUC 6610Programs and Policies in International Education
EDUC 6620Strategies and Analysis in International Education
EDUC 6640Selected Topics in International Education
EDUC 6650Education and National Development
F. Global Health
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
PUBH 6430Theories for Global Health Communication Interventions
PUBH 6503Introduction to Public Health Communication and Marketing
PUBH 6442Comparative Global Health Systems
PUBH 6401Comp Regional Determinants
G. Women and Development
ANTH 6501Gender and Sexuality
GEOG 6223Seminar: Population and Health
SOC 6273The Sex Industry
WSTU 6230Global Feminisms
WSTU 6270Seminar: Selected Topics (Global/Domestic Labor Studies)
WSTU 6270Seminar: Selected Topics (Global Islamic Feminisms)
WSTU 6270Seminar: Selected Topics (Women and Entrepreneurial Leadership)
WSTU 6270Seminar: Selected Topics (Women, Development, and Rights)

International Economics Political Economy and Business Specialization

Required
At least three of the following
ECON 6217Survey of Economics I
ECON 6283Survey of International Trade Theory and Policy
ECON 6284Survey of International Macroeconomics and Finance Theory and Policy
ECON 6295Special Topics (East European Economies in Comparative Perspective)
IBUS 6201International Marketing
IBUS 6202Regional Strategy for Multinationals
IBUS 6301International Business Finance
IBUS 6302Seminar: International Banking
IBUS 6303External Development Financing
IBUS 6305Global Investment Banking
IBUS 6306Seminar: International Financial Markets
IBUS 6307International Portfolio Management
IBUS 6401International Business Strategy
IBUS 6403International Business Negotiations
IBUS 6404New Global Competitive Framewk
IBUS 6405Legal Aspects of International and Multinational Business
PSC 6336Political Economy of Developing Areas
PSC 6373Political Economy of Industrializing Asia
PSC 6439International Political Economy

International Health Policy Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
PUBH 6400Global Health Frameworks
PUBH 6435Global Health Program Development and Implementation
PUBH 6441Global Health Organizations and Regulations
PUBH 6442Comparative Global Health Systems

International Organization, Diplomacy, and Globalization Specialization 

Required
At least three of the following:
ANTH 6505Medical Anthropology
LAW 6534Law of the European Union *
PSC 6345Comparative Foreign Policy
PSC 6346The Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
PSC 6347U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions
PSC 6388Topics in Comparative Politics **
PSC 6442Politics and Practice of International Institutions
PSC 6444Politics of International Law

International Security Policy Specialization

Required
PSC 6349International Security Politics
Electives
At least two of the following:
IAFF 6160Defense Policy and Program Analysis
IAFF 6163Transnational Security
IAFF 6167DefensePolicy&ProgAnalysis II
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Covert Action and National Security)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Globalization and National Security)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (National Security Resources)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Space and National Security)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy)
IAFF 6186Special Topics in Security Policy Studies (Weapons Proliferation and Nonproliferation)
IAFF 6338Special Topics in European and Eurasian Studies (NATO and European Security)
IAFF 6338Special Topics in European and Eurasian Studies (ransatlantic Security Issues in the 21st Century)
IAFF 6501Quant Analysis Int'l Aff Prac
PSC 6348Politics of U.S. National Security Policy
PSC 6351Civil-Military Relations
PSC 6457Arms Control & Disarmament

Research Methods Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
GEOG 2104Introduction to Cartography and GIS
HIST 6030History and Its Uses in International Affairs
HSCI 2115Intro Biostatistics-Health Sci
IAFF 6501Quant Analysis Int'l Aff Prac
PPPA 6014Economics in Policy Analysis
SOC 6232Qualitative Methodology: Doing Field Research

Science, Technology, and International Affairs Specialization

Required
At least three of the following:
ECON 6255Economics of Technological Change
IAFF 6122Development Policy and Practice
IAFF 6142Technology Creation/Diffusion
IAFF 6145U.S. Space Policy
IAFF 6148Special Topics in Space Policy (Issues in U.S. Space Policy)
IAFF 6151Environmental Policy
IAFF 6153Science, Technology, and National Security
IAFF 6158Special Topics in International Science and Technology Policy **

*Law School courses – Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses in the GW Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a Law School course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School Academic Advising & Student Services office before enrolling in Law School courses.

**Special/Selected Topics courses change often; check the schedule of classes for each semester's offerings. Other "Topics" courses not listed here may, with permission of the program director, be used to fulfill program requirements.

*Law School courses – Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses in the GW Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a Law School course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School Academic Advising & Student Services office before enrolling in Law School courses.

**Special/Selected Topics courses change often; check the schedule of classes for each semester's offerings. Other "Topics" courses not listed here may, with permission of the program director, be used to fulfill program requirements.

For more information, visit the program website.