M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – South Asia Studies

New in 2023: all applicants to the M.A. in South Asia Studies are automatically considered for the Frank F. Conlon Fellowship in South Asian Studies.

The M.A. program in South Asia 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 Asia studies, offering a rich variety of courses on these topics.

Students in the Masters Degree program in South Asia studies may specialize in one or more areas of expertise represented by the faculty. These include language, religion, culture, cinema, environment, international development, human-animal-interactions, ethnicity and nationalism, human rights, gender, migration and contemporary politics.

Students may draw on the notable strength the program has in classical South Asian languages, literature and religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism. Several of the South Asia faculty teach courses in Comparative Religion. Areas of expertise include the religious literature of northern India in the late middle ages, and South Asian Buddhism.

In modern and contemporary South Asia, topics covered include international development, public affairs, architecture and urban planning, law, business, women and gender studies, environmental protection and nature conservation, health and demography, communications, dalit studies and postcolonial literature. 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, contemporary political changes and government.

Faculty with research and teaching interests in South Asia work in departments or interdisciplinary programs including Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Business, ChemistryCinema and Media StudiesCommunicationComparative Religion, Economics, English, Ethnomusicology, Gender, Women & Sexuality StudiesGeography, Global HealthHistory, International Studies, Law, Political SciencePsychologyPublic Affairs, and Urban Design & Planning.

Languages of South Asia offered on a regular basis by the Department of Asian Languages and Literature include Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit. Persian is offered by the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. 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 Asia 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.


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

JSIS A 508 Seminar: Interdisciplinary Study of South Asia I (5 credits) Examines how scholarly disciplines in the humanities have interpreted and analyzed the past in South Asia.

JSIS A 509 Seminar: Interdisciplinary Study of South Asia II (5 credits) Examines how scholarly disciplines in the social sciences analyze political transitions, social change, and cultural transformations in South Asia in the twentieth century.

JSIS 511 Research Design and Methods for International Studies (5 credits) 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.

21 Credits Electives These classes must be taken in two or more different departments on campus to ensure students receive an interdisciplinary education. Ideally, these courses will complement a student’s degree goals, either by fulfilling disciplinary or professional objectives.

Capstone Research Project You must complete either a thesis (approximately 75-100 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. Once admitted to the M.A. program, students must reach third-year level proficiency in a South Asian language. If you believe you have attained the required level before you enter the Jackson School, you must take and pass a proficiency exam. Native speakers are exempt from this requirement.

South Asian language study is an essential part of the program. Courses in beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels in Bangla, Hindi, Sanskrit, and Urdu are offered by the Department of Asian Languages and Literature, while Persian is offered by the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.


M.A. in South Asia Studies Handbook 2023-24

M.A. in South Asia Studies Handbook 2022-23

M.A. in South Asia Studies Handbook 2021-22

M.A. in South Asia 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.



The Jackson School houses 14 outreach centers. These centers provide opportunities for educators, students, and the community to learn about the world. Some of them have specific scholarship opportunities and other resources that may be useful. Here is one you might find particularly useful: