Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts


Prospective Students

The Department of Asian Studies currently offers dual-title Ph.D. degrees in five disciplines:

What is a Dual-title Ph.D. degree?

The Dual-title Ph.D. in Asian Studies confers a single Ph.D. degree in Asian Studies AND one of the five disciplines above. It helps graduate students develop the skills to conduct both disciplinary research and interdisciplinary research in Asian Studies. One’s participation in interdisciplinary coursework, including the yearlong Asian Studies seminar required of all dual-degree candidates, exposes one to cutting-edge research from across the humanities and social sciences, allowing students to become part of a larger intellectual community in addition to becoming specialists in their chosen fields.

The Dual-title Ph.D. program at Penn State

At the heart of the Penn State Asian Studies Dual-title program is a commitment to incisive scholarship, rigorous thought, and cutting-edge research on the historical and contemporary cultures and societies of Asia, a diverse area with a population of some 4.5 billion. We are interested in making connections across historical periods and geographic regions, and we pay heed to conceptions of Asia that do not orient it solely towards a history dominated or determined by its modern encounter with Europe.

The primary objective is to engage critically and substantively with the teaching, research, and scholarship of Asia. The program integrates knowledge and methodology across disciplines through partnerships with the departments of History, Political Science, Comparative Literature, Applied Linguistics, and Art History. Graduate students are trained to represent, understand, analyze, and appraise the crucial and current scholarly issues in Asian Studies in the context of their disciplinary foci. The program aims to produce doctoral graduates with a competitive advantage for employment that relates to Asia in academia and other professional fields.

Who can apply?

Students who wish to apply to any of our five, partnering disciplines (History, Political Science, Comparative Literature, Applied Linguistics, and Art History) and who also plan to incorporate some aspect of Asia into their research may apply for this special degree. They should apply first to our partnering disciplines, indicating on their application that they are interested in pursuing the dual-title Ph.D. degree with Asian Studies.

Strengths and Thematic Areas of Study:

Asian Studies faculty teach and conduct research in a broad range of fields, including Comparative Literature, History, English, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Applied Linguistics, Art History, Economics, Political Science, and Labor Studies. The following thematic areas constitute current areas of core strength, defined by our having at least three faculty members who can contribute to graduate training in these areas. While we do not limit graduate training to these areas, we strongly encourage students to apply if they are interested in one or more of the following areas:

  • Asian American, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean modern literatures and print cultures
  • Early modern social, intellectual, and religious history of China and Japan
  • Borderlands, margins, ethnic identity, and frontier history of East Asia
  • East/West and intra-Asian comparative literature, visual art film, theater, and philosophy
  • Intellectual history and religious studies of pre-modern China and Japan
  • Modern and contemporary Chinese, Japanese, and Korean film, visual culture, performance
  • Book history and textual cultures across Asia
  • Migration studies

Prospective students may wish to study our list of faculty to gain a sense of their expertise and the significance of their past and current research projects.