University of Washington
The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

Office of Academic Services

Thomson Hall Room 111

Master of Arts in International Studies Degree

Program Description - South Asian Studies

The Master of Arts program in South Asian Studies offers students a framework within which to carry out the interdisciplinary study of the peoples and nations of the South Asian subcontinent - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. The curriculum combines rigorous training in one or more South Asian languages with study of various aspects of modern and classical South Asian civilizations. The University has a distinguished faculty of scholars who provide instruction in diverse areas of South Asian studies, offering a rich variety of courses on these topics.

Students in the Masters Degree program in South Asian studies may specialize in one, or combine two of the following areas of expertise represented by the current faculty. Language, religion and culture is one area of possible concentration; the other areas include environment, international development, ethnicity and nationalism, human rights, gender, migration, and contemporary politics.

The first concentration draws on the notable strength the program has in classical South Asian languages, literatures, and religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism. Several of the South Asia faculty teach courses in Comparative Religion. Areas of expertise include the religious literatures of northern India in the late middle ages, and South Asian Buddhism. A related strength of the program is in the area of musical arts of South Asia. For example, members of the ethnomusicology faculty provide courses on the music and culture of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They also sponsor regular instruction and performances by distinguished visiting artists, many of whom come to the campus to provide instruction in the musical and performance traditions of South Asia.

The second concentration is in modern and contemporary South Asia. Topics covered include international development, public affairs, architecture, law, business, women and gender studies, environmental protection and nature conservation, health and demography, communications, dalit studies and postcolonial literatures. For instance among these faculty are experts teaching courses on international feminism, cultural aspects of international development, social ecology of the tropics, South Asian architecture, media and communications, international relations and human rights, education and youth cultures, contemporary political changes and government. Faculty with research and teaching interests in South Asia work in departments or interdisciplinary programs including Anthropology, Architecture, Business, Comparative Religion, Communications, English, Ethnomusicology, Geography, History, International Studies, Law, Public Affairs, and Women Studies.

Languages of South Asia offered on a regular basis by the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures include Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit. There are special offerings of other major languages, such as Pali, Gujarati, Panjabi, and Nepali, as well as special fields such as sociolinguistics, Vedic literature, Bhakti literature, epigraphy, and Paninian grammar. Instruction is available both in English and, for advanced students, in the languages involved. South Asian Studies graduates have gone on to graduate programs in various academic disciplines, as well as careers in government service, journalism, teaching, research, international trade, and the travel industry.

- Anand Yang, Chair

Admission Requirements
Applicants must meet the basic requirements set by the Graduate School which include a 3.00 grade point average for the last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, and test results from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants also must meet all application requirements and deadlines set by the Jackson School and described in its application guidelines. Meeting minimum standards, however, does not ensure admission. Previous training in a South Asian language is desirable, but not required.

Degree Requirements
All students must complete a minimum of 36 credits. The expectation is that students will complete this degree within two years. The components of the degree are as follows:

Language
Students must reach a proficiency equivalent to completion of the third year in a South Asian language. Beginning, intermediate and advanced Hindi are taught during the academic year, intermediate Hindi is sometimes taught also in Summer Quarter on an intensive basis. Sanskrit is taught during the academic year.

Coursework

Required Courses:

  • JSIS A 508/Interdisciplinary Study of South Asia I
    Basic introductory course taken in Fall quarter of the first year. Examines how the disciplines of history and the humanities analyze political transitions, social change, and cultural transformations in South Asia through the twentieth century.
     
  • JSIS A 509/Interdisciplinary Study of South Asia II
    Continuation of basic introductory course taken in Winter quarter of the first year.
     
  • JSIS A 510/Seminar on South Asia
    Designed to provide each student with an opportunity to prepare a proposal for the second year thesis or exam papers through research and writing on an individual research topic. Taken in the Spring quarter of the first year.

Other Coursework:
Students must complete at least 21 credits in course work from at least two different departments. Most of this course work should be focused primarily on South Asia, or in courses taught by South Asia faculty on topics relevant to specializations the student has chosen. Students may take a maximum of 10 credits not focused on South Asia, nor taught by South Asia faculty, but help to fulfill disciplinary or professional objectives. All courses are planned in consultation with the program adviser to ensure that both individual and program goals are met.

Final Papers and Oral Exam:
Students have the option of submitting either two seminar papers or a thesis to a supervisory committee, and must pass a comprehensive oral examination. One of the seminar papers will normally be written for JSIS A 509. Students should constitute a committee of at least two South Asia faculty members 2.5 quarters prior to their intended graduation date.

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African Studies Program
University of Washington
326 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195

Joel Ngugi / Chair
Associate Professor, School of Law
jngugi@u.washington.edu

Mary Kay Gugerty/Adjunct Director
Associate Professor, Evans School of Public Affairs
gugerty@u.washington.edu

Erin Murphy/Program Assistant
Autumn Quarter Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 9-12, or by appt.
206.616.0998 office
206.685.0668 fax
africa1@u.washington.edu

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