M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – Korea Studies

M.A. in Korea Studies Handbook

Paull Shin Korea Studies Program Description

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 training in Korean Studies in a variety of disciplines. 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.

– Clark W. Sorensen, Chair

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the Graduate School requirements outlined in the University’s General Catalog. These requirements include a 3.00 grade point average for the last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, and submission of test results from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants must also 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.

Degree Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the language requirement, all students must complete at least 36 credits, of which 18 credits must be in 500-level courses and above. Generally this program is completed within two years.


Students must reach a proficiency equivalent to the third year level of Korean at this university.


Required Courses:

  • 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 (6 credits)
    Advanced instruction in problems and method of research in Korean history.

Other coursework:

Students are required to complete 15 additional credits in discipline course work. While focusing on Korea, students may take courses on China or Japan as well as courses offered through the general International Studies program. Special topics courses, taught by visiting faculty in the field of Korean Studies, are offered frequently and are highly recommended. Information on these is provided in the East Asian Studies program quarterly course list.

Final Papers and Oral Exam

Students must submit either two seminar papers or an essay of distinction to a supervisory committee and pass a comprehensive oral examination.

Students preparing for further work in a PhD program should also consider taking additional language instruction in Chinese or Japanese, as well as courses in Chinese or Japanese history, politics, and other social sciences.