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Major in Asian Studies

The major in Asian Studies focuses on the history, culture, and societies of Asia. Beyond courses specifically in Asian Studies, it can include courses in Art History, Chinese, Comparative Literature, Economics, Geography, Hindi, History, Japanese, Korean, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, and Theater.

Majors in Asian Studies become analysts of culture and history, learn how to relate the present to the past, and the past to the future. They analyze historical documents, learn to think contextually about social and ecological change, and to understand the history of the world as a group of systems, and as a single system.

All majors must take the fourth semester of an Asian language (Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, or Korean), as well as courses in Asian history, religion, literature or philosophy. Study abroad is not required, but it is highly encouraged. Native speakers of an Asian language are required to complete four credits beyond the 12-credit level of a different Asian language.

Double majoring in Asian Studies: Many students in majors such as Chinese, Japanese, Comparative Literature, Global and International Studies, History, or Political Science have added Asian Studies as a second major. Double majors in Chinese and Japanese 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.

Study Abroad in Asia: Our Director of Undergraduate Studies has developed a presentation that outlines options for Penn State undergraduates who want to major or minor in Asian Studies programs and go abroad. Find it here. Students can also find information on study abroad programs by visiting the Global Programs Website at:




Suggested Academic Plan for Asian Studies:

The major requires a total of 31 credits, divided as follows:

Required Courses: ASIA 405Y IL(3)

Additional courses: Select 4 credits beyond the 12th-credit level of proficiency in an Asian language: CHNS 110 IL(4), HINDI 110 IL(4), JAPNS 110 IL(4), KOR 110 IL(4), or the equivalent.

Select 6 credits from the following: ASIA 003 GH;IL(3), ASIA 100 GH;IL(3), ASIA 100Z GH;IL(3), ASIA 101N GH;GS;IL(3), ASIA 102 GH;IL(3), ASIA 103 GH;IL(3), ASIA 104 GH;IL(3), ASIA 105 GH;IL(3), ASIA 106N GH;GHW;IL(3), or ASIA 197 (3)

Supporting Courses and Related Areas: 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, as well as courses from the following list: 

ARCH 312 (3), ARCH 317 (3), ART H 120 GA;IL(3), ART H 320 GA;IL(3), CMLIT 111 GH;IL(3), CMLIT 448 IL (3), ECON 473(3), PHIL 007 GH;IL(3), PL SC 458(3), RL ST 408 US;IL(3) (Sem: 1-8).

Courses not on the list that deal substantially with Asia in any discipline may also count, pending approval of the Asian Studies adviser.

See the University Bulletin for complete lists of the courses in Asian Studies, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Korean.

Students must earn a C or better in all courses applied to the major.

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). 

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.


Tom Spencer () is the undergraduate adviser for the major and minor in Asian Studies, Chinese and Japanese.  To make an appointment, visit: Select “Appointments” and click the “Advisers” link at the top of the page to view his 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.)