M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – Southeast Asian Studies

M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies Handbook 2019-20

M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies Handbook 2020-21

Program Description

The Master of Arts program in Southeast Asian Studies offers students a framework within which to carry out the interdisciplinary study of the peoples and nations of insular and mainland Southeast Asia―Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Loro’sae, and Viet Nam. The curriculum combines training in one or more Southeast Asian languages with study of various aspects of modern and classical Southeast Asian civilizations. The University has a distinguished faculty of scholars who provide instruction in diverse areas of Southeast Asian studies, offering a rich variety of courses on these topics.

Students in the Master’s Degree program in Southeast Asian Studies may specialize in Language, Drama, Ethnomusicology, Literature, or Cinema. Students may also concentrate in any field of social scientific application including Anthropology, History, Geography, Political Science, or Sociology. Students must take courses from at least two different departments during their course of study.

The University’s Southeast Asia program offers special strengths in ethnomusicology, film, history, anthropology, archaeology, environmental studies and marine affairs, political science, sociology, cultural studies, science and technology studies, postcolonial theory, and women studies. Filipino, Thai, Khmer, Indonesian, and Vietnamese are regularly taught on campus, and Burmese can be studied by special arrangement.

Southeast Asian Studies graduates have gone on to graduate programs in various academic disciplines, as well as careers in government service, journalism, teaching, research, marine affairs, international trade, and international development.

Celia Lowe, 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 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. Previous training in a Southeast Asian language, and experience in Southeast Asia is desirable, but not required.

Degree Requirements

All students must complete a minimum of 36 credits, not including language. The expectation is that students will complete this degree within two years. The components of the degree are as follows:


Students must reach a proficiency equivalent to completion of the third year in a Southeast Asian language. Beginning, intermediate and advanced Southeast Asian languages are taught during the academic year, and the Southeast Asia program can provide further information on summer language study.

Required Courses

  • JSIS A 506: The Study of Southeast Asia. Introduces problems in the study of the region (5 cr).
  • JSIS A 580/HSTAS 530: Field Course in Southeast Asian History. Advanced work in the History of Southeast Asia (5).
  • JSIS A 582/HSTAS 532: Seminar in Southeast Asian History. Continuation ofJSIS A 580/HSTAS 530 with an emphasis on proposal and thesis writing (5).

JSIS A 506 is taught in alternate years with the JSIS A/HSTAS series; the order in which the three courses are taken therefore depends on the year of entry. These required courses contribute 15 credits of the required graduate work.

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 Southeast Asia, or in courses taught by Southeast Asia Faculty on topics relevant to specializations the student has chosen. Students may take a maximum of 5 credits in courses that are not focused on Southeast Asia, nor taught by Southeast Asia Faculty, but help to fulfill disciplinary or professional objectives. All courses are planned with the program advisor to ensure that program goals are met.

Thesis and Non-Thesis Options

Students have the option of completing either a thesis or non-thesis M.A. degree. For the thesis option, the student will submit a thesis to a committee of at least two including the M.A. advisor. The student and the committee will agree on the content, methods, and length of the thesis. Students may also choose not to write an M.A. thesis, in which case two seminar papers, a documentary film or other original artistic creation, or an original theater production will be required. This requirement must be designed in consultation with and agreed upon by the M.A. adviser and approved by a committee of at least two including the M.A. adviser.