Grad Student Handbook 2017-18

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.

Asian Studies MA Program


Learning Objectives

Degree Requirements

How do I apply?

Asian Studies Graduate Certificate Program

Asian Studies Graduate Certificates


Learning Objectives


How do I apply?

MA Program Overview

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 may concentrate on Inter-Asian studies, or on one of the following regions within Asia: China, Japan, Korea, 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 adviser for his or her respective area.

MA Program 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 3rd year 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 (7) Inter-Asia.

Plan A (Thesis) students must take at least 12 credits at the 600 level or above (excluding 700), PLUS at least 6 credits of ASAN 700 Thesis Writing.

Plan B (Non-thesis) students must take at least 18 credits at the 600 level or above (excluding 700).

Requirements / Planner
Courses Credits Over 600 Comment
ASAN 600x 3 3 in area of concentration: 600C, 600I, 600J, 600K, 600S, 600P, 600Z

Inter-Asia students must take 600Z (Approaches to Inter-Asian Studies) plus one other area-focused Approaches course from this list. All students are encouraged to take 600Z.

ASAN 750x 3 3 in area of concentration: 750C, 750I, 750J, 750K, 750S, 750P (Inter-Asia students will enroll in the section most relevant to their research focus)
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…
  • 699 Directed Reading: With advance approval from the graduate program and the Office of Graduate Education, credits earned in 699 (directed reading) courses  may be applied toward the MA:
    • Master’s Plan A — up to six credits
    • Master’s Plan B — up to nine credits

    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
Plan A: 700


Plan B: Elective 3

Plan A: 700


Plan B: Elective 4

TOTAL 36 18 Graduate-level credits:
Plan A: 12 x(600-level) + 6 x (700) =18
Plan B: 18 x (600-level) = 18

Additional Requirements

  • Residence requirement at UH: A minimum of 2 semesters full-time academic study or equivalent (16 credits’ worth of courses).
  • 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.
  • 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.

Please Note:
1) The UH-Manoa Office of Graduate Education has degree requirements that all programs must follow. Please read them carefully.
2) ASAN 310, ASAN 312 and any 399 or 499 cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.

Asian Studies Graduate Certificates

The Asian Studies Graduate Program offers seven Graduate Certificates that are open to all students of graduate standing who meet the admissions requirements. To obtain a certificate, students must complete five relevant courses (15 credits) and demonstrate basic competence in an Asian language. Students may apply for one of the following seven programs:

Graduate Certificate in Chinese Studies
Graduate Certificate in Japanese Studies
Graduate Certificate in Korean Studies
Graduate Certificate in Philippine Studies
Graduate Certificate in South Asian Studies
Graduate Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies
Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies

Please note: Students currently enrolled in a degree program at UH must apply separately for admission to the Asian Studies Graduate Certificate program. For details, see How Do I Apply?

Grad Certificate Overview

The Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies enables students to gain (and demonstrate evidence of) cutting-edge knowledge of Asia or a specific region in Asia. A Graduate Certificate can serve as a valuable tool in career development for graduate students in discipline-based programs (e.g., PhD or MA students in sociology, political science, music, or law) and for professionals in business, government, education, law, public health and other fields in which there is increasing demand for integrated, interdisciplinary knowledge about Asian cultures. Students can tailor the certificate program to meet their academic and career goals.

Grad Certificate Learning Objectives

At the completion of the coursework necessary for the Graduate Certificate, students will

1. Possess a basic understanding of at least one Asian language.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of issues and problems in the arts, humanities, and social sciences as related to Asia or a region within Asia.
3. Demonstrate the ability to understand research and conduct Asia-related research using at least one of the methodologies of various disciplines, i.e. humanities, arts and social sciences.

Grad Certificate Requirements

To achieve these learning objectives, students in the Graduate Certificate Program take:

*15 credits of coursework about the region of the certificate program. These 15 credits must include:

ASAN 600 (Scope and Methods of Asian Studies) ASAN 750 (Research Seminar in Asian Studies).

At least 9 of these 15 credits must be at the 600 level or above. All other courses must be at the graduate or upper-division undergraduate level. (Please note: upper-division undergraduate courses would be counted toward the degree only with the permission of the instructor and on the understanding that the graduate student would complete extra work for the course. Only those courses already permitted by OGE and Asian Studies can count toward the degree).

*At least two years of the language of the certificate program.

The student must obtain a B grade or higher in the 202 level of an Asian language associated with the region of the certificate program,  or take an exam to prove competency at that level. The language requirement can be satisfied prior to acceptance into the program or at the conclusion if the language training is done concurrently.
Please note: Courses taken to fulfill the language requirement will not count towards the 15 credits of coursework required for the degree.

Who can apply?

• Individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited United States college/university or its equivalent from a recognized foreign institution of higher learning.
• Students currently enrolled in any master’s, doctoral, or professional degree program at UHM.


For further information, please contact the Asian Studies Graduate Chair, Dr. Young-A Park, at


I don’t speak the language of the region I am interested in. Can I still apply for the Certificate Program?

Yes, you may apply. Before graduating, you will be required to pass (with a grade of B or higher) the 202 level in the language of your certificate program, or “test out” by passing an exam in that language administered by UHM. You may achieve this competency by doing coursework at UHM or community colleges in Honolulu, or by studying abroad or at other language institutes in Asia or elsewhere. Please note: the language courses you take to fulfill this requirement will not count towards the 15 credits of coursework required for the degree.

I am an advanced speaker of the language of the region I am interested in. Do I have to take two years of this language?

No, but you do need to take the language test to confirm your fluency. We can help you set this up once you have been admitted to the program.

I am an advanced or native speaker of an Asian language that is not taught at the University of Hawai‘i. Can this count for the language requirement?

Yes, it can. You’ll still need to take a language test to confirm your fluency. Please contact us with details so we can help you set this up.

I am currently enrolled in another graduate degree program at UHM. Can any of the courses I have taken count toward the Asian Studies Graduate Certificate?

The University allows up to 15 credits to count towards more than one degree program (we call this ‘double-dipping’). Individual graduate programs have their own rules about how many and what kinds of courses can be double-dipped, so please consult carefully with both your home department and Asian Studies when planning your curriculum.

I am an Asian Studies MA student focusing on one region of Asia. Can I get a Graduate Certificate in a different region?

Yes! We encourage our own MA students to take advantage of this opportunity to broaden their area of concentration. Please consult carefully with your academic adviser and the Asian Studies Student Adviser to design an efficient course of study.

I will be graduating from another UHM graduate program next month, but I have completed all the requirements for the Asian Studies certificate. Can I still get the certificate?

No. Sorry! University regulations state that you must apply for any certificate program at least one semester prior to graduation.

Can I do the degree online?

At this time we do not offer an online graduate certificate.

Do you offer evening courses?

At this time we do not have the resources to offer evening courses.

What are the costs associated with the certificate?

The Office of Graduate Education charges a $100 application fee. For information about current tuition and fees, please see

Whom can I contact with specific questions or for further information? 

Please contact the Asian Studies Graduate Chair, Dr. Young-A Park ( or the Asian Studies Program (