University of Washington

Master of Arts Degree

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 Philppines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, 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, ethno-musicology, literature, or cinema, or may 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, Indonesian, Khmer and Vietnamese are regularly taught on campus, and other Southeast Asian languages, including 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.

-Laurie J. Sears
Chair, Southeast Asian Studies

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 of HSTAS 530 with an emphasis on proposal and thesis writing (5).
    JSIS 506 is taught in alternate years with the 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 MA degree. For the thesis option, the student will submit a thesis to a committee of at least two including the MA 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 MA 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 MA adviser and approved by a committee of at least two including the MA adviser.

Application Instructions:

For additional information on the Master of Arts Degree in Southeast Asian Studies please contact Professor Rick Bonus, Graduate Program Director.

For more information on graduate programs in the Jackson School of International Studies:


Helpful Links to Prospective Students:

Southeast Asia Center Faculty

Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP)

Information about the Jackson School of International Studies

A Short History of the Jackson School of International Studies

The Graduate School at the University of Washington

UW Campus Tours and Virtual Tours

Seattle and the University of Washington

Life in Seattle


Southeast Asia Center
University of Washington
303 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-9606 tel
(206) 685-0668 fax

Laurie Sears, Director

Rick Bonus, Director of Graduate Studies

Sara Van Fleet, Associate Director

Tikka Sears, Outreach Coordinator

Mary Barnes, Program Assistant

Linda Cuadra, Graduate Student Assistant