Asian Studies

Asian Studies

Asian Studies is the study of the languages, societies, cultures, religions, histories, economics, and politics of the countries and peoples of Asia. This is an interdisciplinary major for students who seek a simultaneously broad and deeper understanding of historical and contemporary aspects of East, Southeast, and South Asia.

Why should I major in Asian Studies?

Those who study Asian Studies become analysts of culture and history and learn how to relate the present to the past and the past to the future. They analyze both historical documents and contemporary phenomenon, think contextually about social and political change, and develop an understanding of Asia’s role as both an independent and interrelated system that has been critical to the flow and exchange of ideas, goods, and people throughout history up to the present day.

You might like Asian Studies if…

  • You are interested in the languages, cultures, histories, religions, or societies of one or more of the countries in East or South Asia.
  • You want to live in China, Japan, Korea, India, or other Asian country.
  • You are curious about other parts of the world.
  • You want to think contextually about cultures, historical trends, social change, and political structures.
  • You want to understand the flow and exchange of ideas, goods, culture, and people within Asia and between Asia and the rest of the world.

What careers can I have with a major in Asian Studies?

Graduates may work in government service, domestic and foreign offices, or international agencies. Many go on to teach English abroad (for example, through the JET program in Japan, the Fulbright program in Indonesia or India, the EPIK program in Korea, or CIEE in China) or do translation work. Employment may also be available with trade organizations, international banking houses, or U.S. companies abroad. Domestic and multinational companies are increasingly seeking employees with backgrounds in multicultural studies as a way of dealing with the global market.

Can I double major with Asian Studies?

Yes! Many students in majors such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Comparative Literature, Global and International Studies, History, Political Science, and Engineering have added Asian Studies as a second major. Double majors in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean must take at least two Asian Studies courses (one of which must be at the 400 level) that focus on regional topics, or on countries that are not identical with their language major. Also, at least 12 credits cannot be double-counted in the double major.

Requirements for the Major

The major requires a total of 31 credits, divided among the four categories below. Note that there is a language component for the major. Students must earn a C or better in all courses applied to the major. To keep track of your courses, please download the major requirements checklist.

Select 4 credits beyond the 12th-credit level of proficiency in an Asian language.

Additional further credits in language studies may be permitted up to 8 credits (credit received for a specific course will not count in more than one category) (Sem: 1-8).

Select 6 credits from the following courses for supported learning.

  • ASIA 003 – Introduction to the Religions of the East
  • ASIA 100 – What is Asia?
  • ASIA 101N – Sports in Asia
  • ASIA 102 – Asian Popular Culture
  • ASIA 103 – Introduction to Hinduism
  • ASIA 104 – Introduction to Buddhism
  • ASIA 105 – War and Memory in Asia: Twentieth Century and Beyond
  • ASIA 106N – Asian Traditions of Health, Medicine, and the Body
  • ASIA 197 – Special Topics in Asian Studies

Select 18 credits of courses related to Asia with at least 12 credits at the 400 level. This includes any non-language course with the prefix ASIA, CHNS, HINDI, JAPNS, or KOR, or any course cross-listed with such courses. This also includes courses in related areas that are not cross-listed with ASIA, such as:

  • ARCH 312 – Critical Postcolonial and Contemporary Perspectives in South Asian Architecture
  • ARCH 317 – Theory of Modern Japanese Architecture
  • ARTH 120 – Asian Art and Architecture 
  • ARTH 215 – Architecture and Art of South and Southeast Asia
  • ARTH 220 – Chinese Art
  • ARTH 440 – Monuments of Asia
  • CMLIT 004 – Introduction to Asian Literatures
  • CMLIT 111 – Introduction to the Literatures of India
  • CMLIT 404Y – Topics in Asian Literature
  • CMLIT 448 – Literary Cultures of Buddhism
  • HIST 170 – South Asia to 1500
  • HIST 173 – Vietnam in War and Peace
  • HIST 175H – History of Modern East Asia
  • PHIL 007 – Asian Philosophy
  • PLSC 458 – Government and Politics of East Asia
  • PLSC 465Y – Democratization in Asia
  • PLSC 468 – Government and Politics of South Asia
  • WMNST 137 – Gender, Sexuality, and Religion
  • WMNST 280 – Gendering the Divine in Indian and South Asian Religions

Courses not on the list above may count toward the major. However, students must receive approval from the Asian Studies adviser to use other courses in the Asian Studies major. The approval process is not complex and can be done via e-mail. Furthermore, ad hoc offerings (083; x96; x97) must be applied to the major manually. These courses may include:

  • Any course numbered x96 or x97 that deals with Asia in any discipline.
  • Any PSU course not listed above that deals with Asia.
  • Any course dealing with Asia from another institution that appears on a student’s PSU transcript as transfer credit.
  • Any course dealing with Asia taken while participating in a PSU-sponsored study abroad program. Non-PSU study abroad programs require prior approval before their courses can be applied to the major.

Requirements for the Minor

The minor requires a total of 21 credits, divided into the two categories listed below. Students must earn a “C” or better in all courses applied to the minor. To keep track of your courses, please download the minor requirements checklist.

Select 6 credits from the following class options.

  • ASIA 003 – Introduction to the Religions of the East
  • ASIA 100 – What is Asia?
  • ASIA 101N – Sports in Asia
  • ASIA 102 – Asian Popular Culture
  • ASIA 103 – Introduction to Hinduism
  • ASIA 104 – Introduction to Buddhism
  • ASIA 105 – War and Memory in Asia: Twentieth Century and Beyond
  • ASIA 106N – Asian Traditions of Health, Medicine, and the Body
  • ASIA 197 – Special Topics in Asian Studies

Select 15 credits, at least 6 of which must be at the 400 level. Any course that is part of the Asian Studies major counts, as well as HINDI 2, HINDI 3, and HINDI 110. You may also include up to 15 credits of language study beyond the first semester in any Asian language. If you are pursuing an Asian language major or minor, you must have at least 3 courses that do not overlap (including the two core courses).


Tom Spencer is the undergraduate adviser for the major and minor in Asian Studies, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. To make an appointment, visit Starfish and hit ‘Log Into Starfish.’ Select “Appointments” and click the “Advisers” link at the top of the page to view Tom Spencer’s hours for the week. Please make an appointment if you need help with:

  • Your next semester schedule (language pre-majors and majors)
  • Concurrent major planning (feasibility, courses needed)
  • Academic difficulty
  • Faculty Senate petitions (retroactive withdrawal or registration, etc.)
  • Course selection