MA – Korea Studies


Clark Sorensen speaking at a Korea Studies event

Clark Sorensen speaking at a Korea Studies event

The University of Washington is one of the few places in the United States that offers an M.A. program inĀ  Korean Studies. Courses are offered in Korean language, history, society, politics, literature and law. The language program offers four full years of instruction in modern Korean language as well as courses in advanced reading. The history courses cover the full range of the Korean experience, from the origins of the Korean people in the archaeological record to contemporary times. Graduate seminars provide opportunities for research in Korean and other non-Western languages on a variety of topics in the political, social, economic and intellectual history of the country. Courses on Korean society focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, and the political, economic and social development of both South Korea and North Korea. The program of course offerings is supplemented by visiting professors from a variety of fields.

The objective of the program is to provide students with a broad background which will be of use to them in a variety of professions. Over the past decade, graduates from this program have gone on to successful careers in business, banking, government, social work and education. Others have used this degree as a step toward earning a doctorate in history, political science, anthropology or comparative literature at this and other universities. One result of this process has been the creation of a community of students at the University with interests in the Korean area, a valuable asset to the program.

The program emphasizes the study of Korea in the context of East Asian civilization and the modern world economy, not simply as a single country in isolation from its neighbors. Students are encouraged to take related courses on China, on Japan and in international studies, so that they will emerge from their experience at the University with comprehensive training.

Andrea Gevurtz Arai, Interim Chair


A summary of the curriculum is provided below. A detailed description of the entire program curriculum, policies and procedures can be found in the Korea Studies handbook.

HSTAS 482 History of Modern Korea (5 credits) Korean History from 1860 to the present. Topics covered are traditional institutions and society, Japanese colonial rule, liberation and the Korean War, early Korean communist movement, and North and South Korea since 1945.

JSIS A 566 Comparative Politics and Korea Studies (5 credits) Approaches Korean politics, political economy, and society from a comparative perspective. Examples of major comparative questions based on the Korean case include democratization, strong state dynamics, civil society, and impact of globalization.

JSIS A 584 Survey of Korean Society (5 credits) Social organization and values of 20th century Korea. Changes in family and kinship, gender relations, rural society, urban life, education, and industrial organization since 1900. Differences between North and South Korea since 1945.

JSIS A 585 Research Seminar: Modern Korea (5 credits) Advanced instruction in problems and method of research in Korean history.

16 Elective Credits As this program emphasizes the study of Korea in the context of East Asian civilization and the modern world economy, not simply as a single country in isolation from its neighbors, course work in this area does not have to focus solely on Korea. Courses on China, Japan or Russia are relevant to understanding Korea as are courses offered by the general International Studies program, so you are encouraged to take them to fulfill this requirement.

Capstone Research Project You must complete either a long paper (approximately 50 pages) or two papers (approximately 25 pages each) of near publishable quality under the guidance of your Masters Supervisory Committee.

Comprehensive Oral Exam Your Masters Supervisory Committee will examine your capstone research project and conduct your oral exam during your graduation quarter.


Language proficiency is not required for admission.

Language study is an essential part of the program. Courses in Korean language and literature are offered by the Department of Asian Languages and Literature (AL&L). While you are required to complete third-year Korean, you are urged to take instruction beyond this level if your schedule permits. Competency may be demonstrated either by results from the UW proficiency test or through coursework.


M.A. in Korea Studies Handbook 2023-24

M.A. in Korea Studies Handbook 2022-23

M.A. in Korea Studies Handbook 2021-22

M.A. in Korea Studies Handbook 2020-21


Applications must be submitted by January 31 for admittance to the autumn quarter cohort. We only accept students into the M.A. program during autumn quarter.

You can find information about the application requirements and process on our website.


Students interested in literature and culture-focused research should consider applying to the Asian Languages and Cultures MA program in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature.


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