PhD in Asian Studies: Degree Program Summary

A Ph.D. in Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that often includes the exploration of the languages, literatures and cultures of Asia. Students may choose to concentrate the program on a specific area or region, such as China, South Asia, linguistics or culture.

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Essential Information

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs that focus on particular cultures, histories or geographical areas are often designed to prepare graduates for careers in academia or research. Doctoral programs in Asian studies are no exception. Students enrolled in such a program might focus on a particular area of Asian studies, such as Asian philosophy or South Asian studies. They will likely be required to conduct extensive research and write a doctoral dissertation.


Ph.D. in Asian Studies

A Ph.D. in Asian Studies typically includes the study of a variety of areas within Asia, including East, South, Southeast, Central and Inner Asia. However, students may have the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. program that is specific to an individual area of Asia, such as a Ph.D. in South Asian Studies, a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies or a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian Studies. Students may also be able to pursue a dual Ph.D. degree in Asian studies and another major field of study, such as history, linguistics or political science.

As a result of the program, students are often able to make connections across geographical regions throughout Asia in different periods of history. In addition to becoming proficient in an Asian language, such as Korean, Thai or Chinese, students typically demonstrate a foundational knowledge of Asia.

Education Prerequisites

Generally, a Ph.D. program in Asian studies requires that a student have a master's degree in a related field to enroll. In addition, a few programs might require that students complete a master's degree program at the same school to be eligible for admission.

Course Topics

In addition to the completion of coursework specific to Asian studies, students might also complete courses in a variety of subject areas, such as economics, foreign policy and history. Throughout the program, students usually complete coursework in theory, culture and research language. In addition, students may complete coursework specific to individual regions of interest. A Ph.D. program in Asian studies might include course topics such as:

  • Asian economic dynamic
  • Current Asian security issues
  • Covert action and foreign policy in Asia
  • Colonial urbanism in Asia
  • History of Asian thought

Popular Career Options

Upon program completion, graduates often seek professional careers in an academic setting. However, students may seek positions in a number of fields that require knowledge of Asia. Careers might include:

  • Academia research staff member
  • College or university professor
  • Public or private sector leader
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