For full, up-to-date information about the graduate programs, please consult the Asian Studies Department Graduate Student Handbook:
The Asian Studies Department offers two Masters programs — the MA degree in Asian Studies (MAAS) and the Master’s in Asian International Affairs (MAIA) — as well as Graduate Certificates in Asian Studies and each of the geographical areas covered by SPAS’ area centers.
Asian Studies espouses an “area studies” approach, in which students are encouraged to use a variety disciplinary approaches to gain a more holistic understanding of Asia or geographical and cultural regions within Asia.
Graduate students in any department at UH Manoa may apply for the Graduate Certificate programs.
The Asian Studies Graduate Program is a member of WICHE-WRGP. For more information, please see Graduate Admissions.
The MAAS Program
The MAIA Program
|Relevant work experience||Not required||Strongly preferred|
|Delivery format/timing||Core required courses are offered in the evening OR online|
|Capstone projects with government, research, and nonprofit organizations||No||Yes|
|Academic focus||In-depth writing/theoretical focus|
Learning about Asian issues and perspectives for furthering our understanding of the human experience.
|Current affairs focus |
Learning about Asian issues and perspectives in order to deal with them professionally
|Area focus||In-depth knowledge about a country or region (although there is an inter-Asia track)||More inter-Asia|
Graduate Certificate Program
MAAS Program Overview
The MA in Asian studies is offered in Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (non-thesis) formats.
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.
MAAS Program Learning Objectives
We expect the student to:
- Possess an advanced understanding of at least one (1) Asian language. This means college-level fluency in reading, writing, speaking at the 302 level of a language relevant to the student’s area of concentration.
- Demonstrate an understanding of issues and problems in the arts, humanities, and social sciences as related to Asia.
- 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.
- Demonstrate ability in integrating all of the above factors in a final major research project (either Plan A or B, as described below).
MAAS 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.
Requirements for MAAS Degree
|Plan A||Plan B|
|Minimum total 30 credits, of which |
at least 12 credits must be at the 600+ or 700+ level
(not including ASAN 700)
|Minimum total 30 credits, of which |
at least 18 credits must be at 600 or 700+ level
(cannot register for ASAN 700)
|Asian Studies Core Requirements||Asian Studies Core Requirements|
|ASAN 600 in region of concentration (3 credits)||ASAN 600 in region of concentration (3 credits)|
|ASAN 600 in another region (600Z recommended)||ASAN 600 in another region (600Z recommended)|
|ASAN 750 (3 credits)||ASAN 750 (3 credits)|
|2 other ASAN Courses (minimum 6 credits, may count 699)||2 other ASAN Courses (minimum 6 credits, may count 699)|
|Language Requirement||Language Requirement|
|Completion of 301-302 or equivalent in a language relevant to your area||Completion of 301-302 or equivalent in a language relevant to your area|
|Breadth Requirements||Breadth Requirements|
|No more than 9 credits in any one department outside Asian Studies.||No more than 9 credits in any one department outside Asian Studies.|
|Completion of Thesis and Defense||Completion of Plan B Culminating Experience|
|ASAN 700 (6 credits) - taken in the last 2 semesters||ASAN 695 (1 credit) – in semester you plan to finish|
**Students must complete the 301-302 level (or equivalent) in a language relevant to their geographical area of focus; they may count up to 9 credits of language above the 302 level for the degree, but they are not required to do so. Students who test out of the language requirement must take electives (which could include advanced language courses) to make up the full 30 credits.
***Of these, no more than 9 credits can come from any one department besides Asian Studies.
- 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 16 (half + 1) of the 30 credits that count towards the degree must be completed at the University of Hawaii while a classified graduate student. The same goes for courses numbered 600 and above (e.g., for Plan B students, at least 10 credits of graduate-level courses must be earned at UHM; for Plan A students, at least 7 credits of graduate-level courses must be taken at UHM, in addition to 6 credits of ASAN 700.
- For Plan A: Satisfactory completion of a thesis and an oral examination by a 3-member faculty committee.
- For Plan B: Completion of ASAN 695 (1 credit), which includes a presentation of a portfolio of your written work and an oral examination based on it by a 3-member faculty committee. Submission deadline: Week 14 of the semester in which you wish to finish.
- Please Note:
The UH-Manoa Graduate Division has degree requirements that all programs must follow. Please read them carefully.
- ASAN 310, ASAN 312 and any 399 or 499 cannot be counted toward the degree requirements.
MAIA Degree Overview
The Master’s in Asian International Affairs is designed for working professionals whose careers would be enhanced by a deeper understanding of contemporary Asia and the multi-faceted (cultural, historical, social, and political) determinants and impacts of Asian nations’ engagement with their neighbors and the world.
Geared toward students with at least two years of professional experience (which is strongly preferred but not required for admission), the program includes courses on area studies and applied theory, and culminates in a capstone experience in which students will be asked to apply their knowledge either to a project in their own field or to a collaboration with professional partners working on real-world issues.
In this way, graduates of the program will be better positioned to work productively across cultural boundaries on questions of national and global importance, and to make well-informed decisions in a global environment in which Asia is increasingly central.
Most required courses will be offered at night, on weekends, or online, to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. During times of normal university operation, many classes will be offered in person. The full degree is not designed to be completed entirely online.
MAIA Program Learning Objectives
Graduates of the MAIA program will be able to:
- demonstrate an advanced understanding of key sources and modes of conflict and cooperation in contemporary Asia.
- demonstrate advanced understanding of diverse Asian perspectives on issues of regional and global significance.
- accurately interpret and critically assess research on Asian international affairs, and express their analyses concisely.
- reflect critically on the ethical consequences of different paths of international engagement in the Asia-Pacific.
MAIA Degree Requirements
The MAIA program requires students to take a total of 30 credits of coursework, of which
- at least 18 credits must be at the 600 level or higher;
- not more than 14 credits may be taken online;
- all courses must be Asia-related, unless they provide important theoretical or methodological training, in which case the student may petition to include up to 6 credits of non-Asia-related courses.
Required courses include:
1. Core Thematic Requirements (6 credits). Students must take at least two of the following four courses:
- ASAN 626 Capitalism in Contemporary Asia (3 cr)
- ASAN 629 Asian Security Cultures (3 cr)
- ASAN 687 Conflict and Cooperation in Asia (3 cr)
- ASAN 689 International Relations of Asia (3 cr)
2. Core Area Requirements (6 credits). Students must take at least two of the following three courses:
- ASAN 630 Southeast Asia Now
- ASAN 651 East Asia Now
- ASAN 654 South Asia Now
3. Capstone (3 credits)
- ASAN 710 MAIA Capstone (3 credits)
The capstone course allows students to gain course credit for work on a real-world problem or issue. There are two options.
ASAN 710 Option 1 allows students to work with a UHM faculty member to apply the knowledge they have learned to a project relevant to their workplace or career goals.
ASAN 710 Option 2 assigns individuals or small teams of students to collaborate, under the supervision of a UHM faculty member, with government, research, or non-profit organizations as they work to address a carefully defined real-world problem or issue. The current partners for Option 2 are the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, the Pacific Forum, the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, and the Berkeley APEC Study Center.
In addition to the required courses, students may elect to take courses from Asian Studies or from other departments on campus. Students will be assigned an academic adviser who can help them design a study plan that meets their individual needs.
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
- Demonstrate an understanding of issues and problems in the arts, humanities, and social sciences as related to Asia or a region within Asia.
- 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) in the region of concentration
At least 9 of the 15 credits must be at the 600 level or above. All other courses must be at the upper-division undergraduate level (300 or 400 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 Graduate Division and Asian Studies can count toward the degree).
2. 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 Program Chair, Dr. Young-A Park, at email@example.com new email.
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?
Yes, we offer some evening courses, which are mainly MAIA core courses.
What are the costs associated with the certificate?
The Office of Graduate Education charges a $100 application fee. Please check here for information about current tuition and fees.
Whom can I contact with specific questions or for further information?