South Asian Studies MAIS Handbook

This handbook provides you with information concerning both academic and non-academic matters for students enrolled in a Master of Arts in International Studies, South Asia Studies.

Letter from the Chair

Sunila Kale


Welcome to the South Asian Studies Program at the Jackson School of International Studies. The two-year program in South Asian Studies will equip students with intensive language training, expose students to the most important debates and ideas in South Asian Studies, and give students a chance to stretch their analytic abilities and writing skills by completing either two intensive research papers or a final thesis.

The faculty in our program spans the social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. Apart from learning through coursework and interactions with UW faculty, the South Asian Studies Program organizes many speakers, conferences, film screenings, and other events throughout the year that bring scholars and guests from other universities in the US and around the world to our campus in Seattle. We encourage students to attend as many of these events as possible.

This handbook contains information about the South Asian Studies Program’s procedures, guidelines, and resources. Understanding these thoroughly will be the best way to ensure that students succeed in this program and graduate on time.

Sunila S. Kale

Chair, South Asian Studies Program
Thomson 418, kale@uw.edu

Handbook Information

Advising and Resources

Program Guidelines

Degree Requirements

  1. Coursework
  2. Registration & Planning Course Schedule
  3. Supervisory Committee, Final Writing Requirement, and Oral Exam
  4. Concurrent Degrees

Applying to Graduate

  1. On-Leave Status

Fellowship Applications and Financial Aid

  1. Other Resources

Advising and Resources

Sunila Kale Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) Sunila KaleThomson 418, kale@uw.edu

The GPC is the faculty adviser for the first year of the program and will help students determine a suitable faculty mentor for the second year. Students should meet with their faculty adviser at least once a quarter. By the fourth quarter in the program, students should establish a Supervisory Committee to advise completing the final requirements of the program.

Graduate Program Manager (GPA) Rebecca Alhadeff

THO 116, ralhadef@uw.edu

The GPA guides students and provides advice on procedures and requirements for graduating from the Jackson School. For quick questions, students may stop by during drop-in hours on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon or Thursdays from 2-4 pm. Appointments are made here.

Samuel Ostroff, South Asia Center managing director. South Asia Center Managing Director, Samuel OstroffThomson 303, sostroff@uw.edu

The South Asia Center arranges for speakers, colloquia, and other on campus events for graduate students. Additionally, it is an excellent resource for information on language programs and fellowship opportunities. Contact Samuel via email to be added to the graduate student email lists.

 Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies FLAS Coordinator, Robyn DavisThomson 126, rldavis@uw.edu

Every autumn the FLAS Coordinator organizes FLAS information sessions for students ahead of the winter application deadline, which usually falls in mid-January. She is also available to meet with students in person and will answer questions via email about applying for and receiving FLAS fellowships.

 Deepapic South Asia Studies Librarian, Deepa Banerjeedbaner@uw.edu

The University of Washington has one of the best collections of South Asia related materials in the country. Materials are housed in many different buildings across campus. Deepa specializes in the South Asia related collections housed at the university, including the vast digital resources. Deepa is willing to meet with students to provide introductions to South Asia collections and resources, customize and tailor research inquiries, and provide general guidance on graduate student research.

 Alison Wattles JSIS Career Services & Alumni Relations, Alison WattlesThomson 124, awattles@uw.edu

The Career Services Office organizes events on campus with employers, as well as provides support for students seeking internships and preparing to enter the job market upon completion of their degree. Appointments can be made here.

 Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies JSIS Computer Specialist, Mark HaslamThomson 408C, jsishelp@uw.edu

For technical or software problems with the computers in the Jackson School, contact Mark.

Academic Services Office
Thomson Hall 111
Advisors located in the Services Office (located on the first floor of Thomson Hall, room 111) can answer questions about transfer credits, course requirements, and faculty. Students also can find forms for independent study and thesis credits at the Student Services Office. The forms are also available online.

Program Guidelines

Degree Requirements

Our program is designed so that students can complete this degree within two years. There are three main sets of requirements.

  • Complete coursework (36 credits)
  • Demonstrate language proficiency (the equivalent of 3rd year proficiency in a South Asian language)
  • Establish a Supervisory Committee that will evaluate the final writing assignment (two research papers OR a master’s thesis), and administer an oral exam.

Please note the Jackson School’s Satisfactory Progress and Performance Policies for Master’s Students.


An average load per quarter for Jackson School graduate students is 12-15 credits or 3-4 courses, depending on credits per course. In the second year, some students take fewer courses as they begin to focus on their final paper(s). If students are receiving a scholarship or fellowship, financial aid, or hold a TA or RA position, they must carry at least 10 credits a quarter. International students must be registered for 10 credits per quarter in order to maintain their F-1 status. Students receiving FLAS fellowships must be enrolled full time; this includes a minimum of one 5-credit language course and one 5-credit South Asia area studies course in each quarter. It is the student’s responsibility to meet the requirements of any scholarship or fellowship they are awarded. Students are not required to take a full course load every quarter, but taking a reduced load during Autumn Quarter of the first year may result in a competitive disadvantage for fellowship consideration. It is difficult for the fellowship committee to assess scholastic performance if a student has only taken one or two courses.

Required Courses (15 credits taken during the first year of the program)

JSIS A 508/Interdisciplinary Study of South Asia I: Intensive survey seminar taken in the first year; offered Autumn quarter only (5 credits).

JSIS A 509/Interdisciplinary Study of South Asia II: Continuation of the intensive survey seminar taken in the first year; offered Winter quarter only (5 credits).

JSIS 511/JSIS A 510 Research Inquiry and Design: Review of the approaches to posing and answering research questions in the disciplines affiliated with international studies. Explores epistemological approaches and associated methodologies to prepare students to effectively read across the literature of international studies, develop their own research design based on a research question, and write a research proposal. Offered Spring quarter only (5 credits).

Recommended Course

JSIS 594/JSIS Director’s Course: International & Area Studies: Exposes first-year graduate students to the four-fold thematic intellectual rubric of the school, and to the wide range of teaching and research agendas represented in the Jackson School. Recommended common course for all JSIS first-year graduate and doctoral students; offered Autumn quarter only (2 credits)

Other Coursework (21 additional credits) The remaining 21 credits must include coursework from at least two different departments at the 400, 500, 600, and 700 levels, at least 8 of which must be at the 500 level and above. Of the 21 credits, 10 credits can be taken in classes unrelated to South Asia. Ideally, these courses will complement a student’s degree goals, either by fulfilling disciplinary or professional objectives. Students are advised to select courses in consultation with the GPC or adviser to ensure that both individual and program goals are met. Students selecting the thesis option must register for a minimum of 9 thesis credits in the second year. Thesis credits can be done over multiple quarters or all at once, and there is no limit to the number of thesis credits students may take. 300 level courses do not qualify for graduate credit at the UW Graduate School and should only be used when required for future academic or professional goals, and when other courses fulfill both program and Graduate School requirements. Some professors may be willing to work with students on a 600-level independent study course, in which students will attend and complete the assignments for the 300-level course and also complete additional work that brings the course up to gradate-level standards. “Independent Study” forms are available here.

Registration & Planning Course Schedule

Registration for classes begins in the middle of the preceding quarter (e.g. middle of Spring Quarter for Autumn). Course offerings on South Asia, which contain course descriptions for the upcoming quarter, are available on the South Asia Center website.

South Asia graduate students will be eligible to register in the first Registration Period. Registering early will usually ensure that students can enroll in preferred classes. Few, if any, classes on South Asia are offered Summer Quarter. Students should meet with their faculty adviser (the Graduate Program Coordinator in the first year, and the committee chair in the second) before registering each quarter.

Incomplete Course Work

Graduate school is demanding, intellectually and emotionally, and students sometimes struggle to balance life and academic studies. If encountering difficulty, students can consult their course professor, program adviser, and/or GPC. We strongly discourage students from taking “incompletes” in their courses, although the option is available if necessary.

Language Proficiency Students must achieve third-year proficiency in a South Asian language as part of the degree requirement, although language courses do not count towards the 36 credits required to complete the degree. Students who enter the program with no prior training in a South Asian language will likely need to complete at least one intensive summer language course in order to satisfy the language requirement within two years. Beginning, intermediate and advanced levels for Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, and Urdu are taught during the academic year. Summer language study opportunities are available at other institutions in the US, such as the University of Wisconsin, and in South Asia. The program will work with students in an effort to provide partial or full funding for such programs if possible. Please note, it is the student’s responsibility to apply for admission and funding in a timely manner for summer language study. Students may also choose to apply for a nine-month language course in South Asia during the academic year, which may extend a student’s MA timetable by a year. Students who enter the program with advanced proficiency in a South Asian language (usually indicating fluent reading, writing, and speaking abilities) may contact the GPC about testing out of the language requirement. We encourage these students to increase their language abilities by studying a second South Asian language during their program. Students who are uncertain about what level of language to take should contact the department of Asian Languages and Literature for advice.

Supervisory Committee, Final Writing Requirement, and Oral Exam

Supervisory Committee Students must identify a faculty adviser by the end of their 3rd quarter in the program, and must form a Supervisory Committee by the middle of the 4th quarter. The Supervisory Committee should consist of at least two faculty members who have had a chance to get to know the student’s work and who have expertise in a relevant area of concentration. These two members of the Supervisory Committee must be Graduate Faculty; students may select a third member who may or may not be Graduate Faculty. The purpose of this committee is to advise students in the latter stages of the program. Committee members serve as consultants and mentors as students write theses or write and revise MA papers and they serve as examiners for the oral defense. Students should make sure that their committee members will be available in the quarters when they need them for advisory work, independent study, and exams. To establish the Supervisory Committee, students must file the Supervisory Committee Form. This establishes a record that areas of concentration, committee members, and papers / thesis option are acceptable to the GPC of the South Asian Studies program, and that committee members have agreed to undertake supervision of the student’s program. Once students file the form with all of the requisite signatures, the primary adviser becomes the chair of the committee.

Students should ask their committee members to clarify their expectations of how and when to demonstrate progress towards completion of the papers or thesis. The timelines that follow are guidelines for completion that will enable students to meet the University of Washington’s Graduate School deadlines. The Supervisory Committee may require additional drafts and earlier submission dates.For a guide to the student’s role as an advisee and the faculty supervisor’s role as Mentor, see the UW’s “Guidelines for Good Practice in Graduate Education.”

Final Writing Requirements Students have the option of submitting either two revised seminar papers (Option A) or an original thesis (Option B) to their supervisory committee, and must pass a comprehensive oral examination. Students should have selected an adviser by the end of the first year and selected the second committee member by the end of the first quarter of the second year.

Option A: Two Papers Option A is an appropriate selection for anyone who intends to pursue future studies or for whom the MAIS in South Asian Studies will be a terminal degree. Students will prepare two papers of at least 25 pages each (6,000 words + references) which should be in a standard academic format. The papers should be seminar papers significantly revised to incorporate comments from the faculty who commented on the original version and comments from the Supervisory Committee members as appropriate. Students may register for JSIS 600: Independent Study with a member of their committee to get credit for work done on these revisions. It is wise to have at least one of these papers completely revised and approved by the Supervisory Committee by the quarter before the student plans to graduate.

Timetable for Final Quarter- Option A

6th week Submit final drafts of papers to committee members
8th week Submit South Asia Oral Exam Scheduling Form to Graduate Program Adviser
10th week Oral Exam of Papers
11th week Complete any required revisions to papers
Submit copies of papers to South Asia Center for South Asia program archive
Submit warrant to GPA by 4:00 Thursday

Option B: Thesis Students interested in writing a thesis should indicate that interest to his or her adviser and/or GPC early, preferably in the first year. The primary thesis adviser will be the chair of the supervisory committee, but students should consult with each member of their committee as they develop the thesis and prepare to defend it in a comprehensive oral exam. The thesis can begin as a seminar paper or an Independent Study project. Students who have selected this option will register for 9 thesis credits (JSIS 700: Thesis) during the second year in the Master’s program. Theses usually range between 80-120 pages (25,000 words + references) and must be formatted as per University of Washington Graduate School requirements.

Timetable for Final Quarter- Option B

2nd week Submit rough draft of thesis to committee members
6th week Submit defense draft of thesis to committee members (complete and formatted as per Graduate School requirements)
Submit South Asia Oral Exam Scheduling Form to the GPA
8th week Oral Exam of Thesis
11th week Finish any required revisions & have thesis Signature Page signed by all committee members
Submit copy of Supervisory Committee Approval Form to GPA by 4:00p Thursday
Upload thesis on to ETD site to Graduate School by 5:00p Friday
Provide committee members bound copy of thesis
Provide South Asia Center office with hard copy of thesis for South Asia Program archive.

Oral Exam The oral exam is given by the members of the supervisory committee. It covers the student’s area of concentration and program coursework and focuses on issues that arise in relation to the two papers or the thesis. It will take approximately 1.5 hours. Students should consult each member of their committee prior to the exam to clarify what to expect and how to review for the exam. Once the supervisory committee has accepted the student’s final papers or thesis, the student must set a date and time with them for the oral examination. When this is established, students must complete an Oral Exam Scheduling Form. After the chair of the supervisory committee and the GPC have signed the form, students must submit this to the GPA, who will schedule a room and notify everyone involved. The GPA will prepare the student’s file for the oral exam. Students should make an appointment with the GPA the quarter before graduation to ensure that this review produces no surprises, and to review procedures for finishing the program. The Graduate School will be informed of any course work necessary to meet departmental requirements for which the student has not yet received a grade, and graduation will be finalized after these grades are received. Prior to the oral exam, the student’s file will be given to the chair. Aside from providing a record of the work done in the program, the file will also contain the Oral Exam Completion Form and the Warrant for Master’s Degree. Both of these documents must be signed by the committee members following the successful completion of the oral examination, and will remain in the file. For those in Option A, the committee’s signatures on these this will signify that the student’s graduation is approved, and the GPC will notify the Graduate School that graduation may be finalized. For those in Option B, a copy of the signed signature page also must be given to the GPC by 4:00 on the last day of the quarter.

Concurrent Degrees

Students may choose to apply to the South Asia MAIS program as a concurrent degree program. If you have questions about the required courses for concurrent students, please contact the Chair or the Graduate Program Coordinator. Concurrent degree programs have been formally established between International Studies MA programs and six professional programs: Public Affairs, Business Administration, Law, Forest Resources, Marine Affairs, and Public Health. For more information visit the JSIS concurrent degrees page.

Applying to Graduate

To graduate, students must apply through the Graduate School’s degree application website. The application period commences the first day of the quarter of graduation. The Graduate School allows students to apply for their degree through the 10th Sunday of the quarter (8th, in Summer), however, the Jackson School requires that students apply for the degree by the 7th Sunday of the quarter. The Graduate School will send an email confirmation of applications for Master’s Degree and inform the student of Graduate School requirements that must be met by the end of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate. The Graduate Program Adviser will be notified of the application for Master’s Degree and will enter information detailing departmental requirements that must be met. This will generate an email from the Graduate School which will inform the student of departmental requirements. If students do not finish in the quarter they applied to graduate, they will have to apply again. Students must be registered for at least two credits in the quarter they intend to graduate. It is important for students to maintain status as a student until graduation. To do this, students must be registered for every quarter except Summer Quarter, or be formally on leave.

On-Leave Status

Graduate students are required to maintain graduate status during their program of study. Failure to maintain this status requires application to the South Asian Studies program for reinstatement to the University of Washington Graduate School and a fee if $250. Students who desire to take a quarter or quarters off without going through the reinstatement process must apply for on-leave status for each quarter they do not register. For complete details regarding the on-leave policy, refer to Graduate School Memorandum 9.

Fellowship Applications and Financial Aid

Students can apply for most fellowships offered through the Jackson School with one application (International and Area Studies Fellowship Application). The online application will be available by November. This application will include the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships and others. EVERY MAIS SA student should apply for a FLAS unless she/he already has other fellowship support or is not a US citizen or permanent resident. Awards are made in mid-April for the following summer and/or academic year. Students, both domestic and international, may be eligible to apply for the Conlon Fellowship and the India Association of Western Washington Scholarship offered through the South Asia Program. Specific questions concerning FLAS should be addressed to the FLAS Director. Questions concerning the other fellowships covered by this application should be addressed to the Office of Academic Services. Faculty evaluations and grades earned at the UW are of particular importance to JSIS fellowship committees, so it is helpful to carry a full load of relevant courses and do well in them. It is important to make good progress towards the degree before applying, and students must continue this progress if they receive a JSIS fellowship. For information on need-based financial aid, check with the Financial Aid Office in Schmitz Hall.

Funding Opportunities

Visit the South Asia Center website for details on funding opportunities

Other Resources

The South Asia Center’s Resources for Students page includes information and links related to campus resources of all kinds. These include health services, student government, transportation, and much more.

Computer equipment, cameras, and more are available for students to borrow in Kane Hall. For up to date information on campus computer labs, technology support and resources for students visit UW IT Connect.

The Center for Social Science Computation and Research (CSSCR) in Savery 145 offers consultation on computer services for JSIS students.

UW Libraries house a wealth of South Asia resources, including immigrant oral histories, image collections, and digital newspaper collections. For more information on collections visit the South Asian Studies research guide.

For information on citation styles please visit: http://guides.lib.washington.edu/citations

Additionally, the Jackson School has resources to help you transition into a job after you graduate! Feel free to read the JSIS Jobs Blog and consult the JSIS Jobs Boards to help you find companies and organizations hiring JSIS graduates.