The Asian Studies Program offers the MA degree in Asian Studies, as well as Graduate Certificates in the geographical areas covered by our area centers. The master’s program in Asian studies is designed primarily for students who wish to focus their studies on a particular geographical and cultural region of Asia. Such an approach entails interdisciplinary study. Graduate students in any department at UH Manoa may apply for the Graduate Certificate programs. UH Manoa is a member of WICHE-WRGP; for more information, please see Graduate Admissions.


Learning Objectives

Degree Requirements


The MA in Asian studies is offered in Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (non-thesis). Although UH Manoa does not offer a PhD in Asian studies, Asia-focused PhD programs are available in anthropology, East Asian languages and literatures, economics, geography, history, linguistics, music, philosophy, political science, public health, sociology, theater, and tropical agriculture.

Students who wish to pursue a doctoral degree in any of these fields should contact the appropriate department.

An Asian Studies MA student’s academic program should concentrate on one of the regions of Asia as represented by the area centers in SPAS—China, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, South Asia, or Southeast Asia. Regarding the latter two, a student may concentrate on a particular country within those regions if sufficient courses are available. The director of each area center or a designated faculty member serves as the graduate student advisor for his or her respective area.

Learning Objectives

We expect the student to:

1. Possess an advanced understanding of at least one (1) Asian language. This means college-level fluency in reading, writing, speaking at the 5th year level of Japanese, 4th year level Chinese and Korean, and 3rdyear level Southeast and South Asian languages.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of issues and problems in the arts, humanities, and social sciences as related to Asia.

3. Demonstrate the ability to understand research and conduct research using at least one of the methodologies of various disciplines i.e. humanities, arts and social sciences.

4. Demonstrate ability in integrating all of the above factors in a final major research project (either Plan A or B, as described below).

MA Degree Requirements

For the Masters Degree, students without sufficient preparation in Asia-related course work may be required to take make-up courses for which no degree credit will be offered.

Students enrolling from an Asian country may have the foreign language requirement waived if they plan to concentrate on their native country or region. If they elect to concentrate on a country other than their own, they must fulfill the previously stated requirement.

Area of Concentration means one of the following areas: (1) China, (2) Japan, (3) Korea, (4) Philippines, (5) South Asia, (6) Southeast Asia

Requirements / Planner
Courses Credits Over 600 Comment
ASAN 600x 3 3 in area of concentration: 600C, 600I, 600J, 600K, 600S, 600P
ASAN 750x 3 3 in area of concentration: 750C, 750I, 750J, 750K, 750S, 750P
ASAN xxx 3 Any ASAN course
Language 6 Philippines, South, Southeast Asia: 3rd year level (301/302);
China, Korea: 4th year level (401/402);
Japan: above 402
If you test out of language, 6 credits of something else. Native speakers do not have to take a language if their area center requires their native language. For example, a Korean native speaker in Korean Studies would not take a language, but would take 6 hours of something else.
Humanities 3 HIST, PHIL, REL, literature
Elective 1 3 In the case of the Humanities, Soc Sci, Arts, and electives:

  • only courses numbered 300 and above will count toward the degree
  • No more than 9 credits in any one discipline. Example: 9 credits of History, 9 credits of Political Science, 9 credits of any language, etc…
  • Graduate Division requirements on 699 courses: If you have doubts, please check the previous link. Grad Division must now sign-off on all 699 courses. In addition, 699 courses may only be used for electives, not as a substitute for Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences requirement — except when no courses in those categories are available.
Elective 2 3
Elective 3 or ASAN 700 for Plan A 3
Elective 4 or ASAN 700 for Plan A 3
TOTAL 36 18 18 of the total 36 credits must be in courses 600 and above.

Additional Requirements

  • Residence requirement at UH: A minimum of 2 semesters (full-time) academic study, or 4 six-week summer sessions.
  • Transfer of credits: At least 19 (half + 1) of the 36 credits that count towards the degree must be completed at the University of Hawaii while a classified graduate student. Of these 19 credits, at least 8 must be in courses numbered 600 and above.
  • A maximum of nine credits in directed reading/research (699) may be applied toward degree requirements.
  • For Plan A: Satisfactory completion of a thesis and an oral examination by a 3-member faculty committee.
  • For Plan B: Presentation of a portfolio consisting of 2 seminar papers and satisfactory completion of an oral examination based on them by a 3-member faculty committee. Submission deadline: Week 14 of the semester in which you wish to finish.

Graduate Division has degree requirements that all programs must follow. You should read them carefully.

Warning: ASAN 310, ASAN 312 and any 399 or 499 cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.

Asian Studies Graduate Certificate Program

This program is currently being reorganized. Information about how to obtain the graduate certificate will be posted immediately when the new requirements are finalized.