College of Arts & Sciences

Asian Studies Program

The Major
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The core of the Asian Studies program is the major. The Asian Studies major requires the following:

  • Intermediate language competency in an Asian language
  • Two “Foundational Heritage” courses
  • Seven electives courses
  • A Senior Seminar in Asian Studies

Foundational Heritage

  • HIS 1561 – Historical Introduction to East Asia (E)
  • HIS 1571 – Historical Introduction to South Asia (S)

These courses provide a broad overview of Asia, and will emphasize the fundamental background on which students will build in their later courses, including the basic linguistic, geographic, cultural, religious, and historical trends that have shaped East and South Asia.

Electives and Concentration

Students must complete a minimum of seven elective courses, reflective of their geographical area of concentration and exclusive of language courses at or below the intermediate level.

  • Geographic concentration: students must complete a geographical focus, with four elective classes in one of two geographical concentrations: East Asia or South Asia. This requirement may also be satisfied by at least one semester of study abroad in the area of concentration.
  • To insure interdisciplinary breadth, elective courses must be selected from at least four different departments. In addition, electives must be distributed to ensure breadth of study, with at least one course taken from each of three categories:
    • Art (e.g., Asian Cinemas), Literature (e.g. Literature of South Asia) and Language (e.g., Japanese Film and Culture)
    • Philosophy and Theology (e.g., Mahayana Buddhism)
    • Social Sciences (e.g., Asian Economies; Japanese Politics) and Business
  • To insure geographical breadth at least two elective courses must be taken outside the student’s concentration (whether East Asia or South Asia).

Senior Seminar in Asian Studies (AST 2001)

The senior experience is designed to enable students to synthesize what they have learned during their time at SJU, and will typically take the form of a research seminar and/or thesis. The expectation is that these papers would be nominated to be presented at the Greater Philadelphia Asian Studies consortium conference each spring.

Language Requirement

All majors are required to attain intermediate language competency in their area of concentration. The language requirement may be satisfied in one of three ways.

  • Two sequential intermediate classes (1200-level) in the same Asian language (each course consisting of a minimum of three semester credit hours) at SJU or another US institution.
  • Language examination confirming intermediate-level competency
  • One semester language intensive study-abroad experience.

This requirement is seen as a minimum. The program encourages majors to attain fluency in an Asian language. Ideally, students will augment language study at SJU with an immersion experience of a semester or more. Part of the program’s endowment will be dedicated to funding student needs for study abroad. 

For languages not offered at SJU (Hindi, Urdu, Korean, etc.), the program will help interested students find appropriate instruction at other institutions or abroad, unless and until SJU is able to offer these languages on campus.

Study Abroad

The Asian Studies program considers experience in Asia to be an essential means of understanding. All Asian Studies majors are expected to spend at least one term (fall, spring, or summer) in a study-abroad program in Asia. This requirement can frequently be met through programs with existing ties to SJU, including The Beijing Center (operated by a consortium of Jesuit universities) and Sofia University in Tokyo.