BA in Asian Studies

The undergraduate program in Asian studies is designed for students desiring a liberal arts education and a broad background in traditional and contemporary Asian cultures.


Learning Objectives

Degree Requirements

What does it have to offer you?


Asian Studies (ASAN) is concerned with the people and countries in the broad arc of Asia extending from Afghanistan in the west to China, Japan and Korea in the east and including the Philippines and other islands and peninsulas of Southeast Asia to the south. Most students focus on one of the following countries and regions: China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. All students are encouraged to study the language of that country or region up to and beyond the second-year level.


Choose from a broad background in traditional and contemporary Asian cultures, emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach. You can take not only Asian Studies courses, but also other Asia-related courses in other departments: anthropology, art, economics, geography, history, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, theater and dance, and urban and regional planning.


Create a unique program of study tailored to your particular interests. The undergraduate advisor will assist you to design your program with a wide array of Asian Studies and Asia-related courses. For instance, you may concentrate on Japan by taking courses in the arts and humanities. Or you may study Southeast Asia with a focus on the social sciences.


Participate in study abroad programs to enhance your language skills and immerse yourself in the cultures of your interest. The University of Hawai’i at Manoa Study Abroad Center sponsors several study abroad programs in Asia and makes it easy to earn UHM credits. Other programs for studying in Asian countries can be arranged with the assistance of the faculty and the Asian Studies Advisor. These courses may also be used to fulfill your degree requirements.

Learning Objectives

The Asian Studies undergraduate program provides the student with a broad interdisciplinary approach to Asian national and cultures. Upon receiving an area studies degree, the student should have the following skills:

  1. Students possess basic skills in at least 1 Asian language. Demonstrate college-level fluency in reading, writing, speaking at basic and intermediate levels.
  2. Students can demonstrate a basic understanding of the interrelationship of economy, politics, literature, religion, the arts, history of Asian countries.
    1. Demonstrate an understanding of major themes in Asian history and cultural development.
    2. Be able to explain how Asian Studies is constituted in the West.
    3. Be able to explain the ways in which global forces have interacted with the Asian regional context in shaping the character and course of societies in Asia today.
  3. Students can demonstrate an advanced understanding of two Asian countries or regions (example Southeast Asia)
    1. Be able to explain Asian world views
    2. Be able to explain intra-Asian as well as West vs Asia differences
    3. Be able to analyze and interpret specific issues in research projects
  4. Students can find and evaluate sources of information about Asia
    1. Be able to use the library to find appropriate sources of information for a research project
    2. Be able to evaluate the probable quality sources found on the web
  5. Students conduct and communicate research findings
    1. Be able to outline, organize and present a research project
    2. Be able to design and deliver a presentation that communicates key findings of their research
  6. Students gain a greater appreciation of the variety of human experience.
    1. Make students open to different and creative ways of seeing the world.
    2. Foster a spirit of inquiry so that received mainstream knowledge is never accepted uncritically.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

Students seeking a BA in Asian studies must meet all the requirements for admission established by SPAS.

Asian studies is normally declared as a major at the end of the sophomore year or beginning of the junior year though students may apply for admission to the program at any time. The formal declaration is made through the school’s Student Academic Services Office.

Program Requirements

  • Earn at least a 2.0 GPA (C average) for all UH Manoa registered courses
  • Register for all required courses (core, major, minor, and certificates) for a letter grade
  • Earn a grade of C (not C-) or better in each course applied to the major, minor, and certificate requirements
  • 45 upper division credits (courses numbered 300 and above)

Major Requirements

  • Total of at least 36 credit hours of Asia-related course work
  • This must include ASAN 201 and 202, 310 and 312, and three additional credit hours of ASAN courses at the 300 or 400 level
  • Two years of an Asian language (excluding conversation or aural comprehension courses), or demonstration of the equivalent level. This will not be counted in the 36 required credits of Asia-related work. Two years of a foreign language is a General Education requirement.

In addition to the five required ASAN courses, majors must also complete one of the following study plans:

Plan 1:

  • 12 credit hours of Asia-related course work from one of the following fields of concentration: anthropology, art, economics, geography, history, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, political science, religion, sociology, communicology, or theater and dance
  • 9 credit hours of Asia-related courses outside the primary field of concentration, as approved by the advisor

Plan 2:

  • 12 credit hours of course work on one Asian country or region (e.g., Japan, Southeast Asia)
  • 9 credit hours focused on one or more additional Asian countries or regions

ASAN courses used to satisfy General Education Core requirements may not be used to satisfy major requirements or vice versa.

Language study beyond the required level may count toward the major and is encouraged for Asian studies majors.

Information on the Bachelor Degree Program Sheet can be found here.

Minor Requirements

There are no required courses for acceptance into the Asian Studies minor program. Attendance in ASAN 201-202 (Introduction to Asian Studies) is recommended.

Students must complete 15 credit hours including:

  • ASAN 310 Asian Humanities or 312 Contemporary Asian Civilization (3 credits)
  • ASAN courses numbered 300 and above (minimum 6 credits)
  • Asia-related courses in disciplines other than the major field numbered 300 and above (maximum 6 credits)

It is possible to focus on one particular country or region, such as China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Southeast Asia, or South Asia.

The Asian studies undergraduate advisor will identify Asia-related courses in various disciplines and assist in planning schedules and preparing minor forms.