East Asia Center at University of Virginia
University of Virginia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Center Homepage
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
About the Center
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Academic Program
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
News and Information
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Calendar of Events
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Student Organizations
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Language House
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Resources on East Asia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Grants and awards
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Study Abroad
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
Support the East Asia Center
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
East Asia Center at University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The Academic Program
The Academic Program

The University of Virginia offers three degrees in East Asian Studies:

  1. B.A. in East Asian Studies
  2. B.A. in East Asian Languages and Literatures
  3. M.A. in East Asian Studies

The undergraduate degree programs are administered by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The M.A. and M.A./M.B.A. programs are detailed below. Doctoral programs in East Asia are administered by individual departments.


The East Asia Center was founded in 1975 to provide a forum for faculty and student interest in East and Southeast Asia. The Center sponsors a speaker series and travel grants, and promotes activities and events related to Asia. The Center is an interdisciplinary organization of faculty, each of whom is a full member of a department. Asia-related courses are taught as part of the various departmental curricula.

Click here for the current East Asian Studies course offerings



The Master of Arts Program in East Asian Studies is designed for students who want multi-disciplinary exposure to East Asia at the graduate level and also competence in an East Asian language. It is a terminal degree. Although some students do go on to PhD programs in various disciplines, most students go on to Asia-related employment.

Students are encouraged to construct courses of study suited to individual interests and career goals by combining language training, multidisciplinary area studies and some disciplinary concentration. The range of possible specialty tracks within the program extends from modern and contemporary China or Japan to the East Asian religious traditions. Students usually take 21 months--two academic years and the intervening summer--to complete all requirements for the degree, though the program can be completed more quickly if no additional language work is necessary. In planning their schedules students should allot a generous amount of time to the completion of their MA Thesis.

Recent students have praised the program for the degree to which it allows students to design their own course of study. The program is flexible and allows students to combine Asia-related courses from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with courses from both the Business and Law Schools here at the University.

Although there is not a standardized career path for our MA students, past graduates of the MA and MBA/MA programs have gone on to work for: Continental Bank, McKinsey & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bank of Tokyo, Sanwa Bank, General Motors and a variety of government and academic jobs. A small number have entered PhD programs, including Berkeley, Columbia and UCLA. Former students are working in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and the United States.

Although no program can guarantee placement, there are a range of placement services at the University. While the Darden School maintains cooperative relationships with a variety of firms with Asian operations (for those in the MA/MBA program), the University's Office of Career Planning and Placement (OCPP) offers an array of career services for graduate and undergraduates of the University as well as alumni. OCPP has six full-time career counselors, hosts corporate and organizational recruiters, and offers job postings, resume workshops, practice interviews, and an extensive resource library.

Requirements for an M.A. in Asian Studies

To earn a Master of Arts Degree in East Asian Studies, students are:

  • Take 24 credit hours of non-language courses at the graduate level; 18 credit hours must be in Asia-related courses; non-Asia courses and independent study credits must be approved by the Graduate Committee of the East Asia Center;
  • Take an additional 6 credit hours of non-topical research credit hours (e.g. PLCP 8998 or HIST 8998);
  • Study in at least two different departments, with at least six credit hours in each department;
  • Acheive and demonstrate third year competence in Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Tibetan language; but no coursework from the first three years of language study may be used to satisfy the 24 credit hour requirement;
  • Complete a Master's thesis under the guidance of two faculty advisors (at least one of these an East Asia faculty member), and to undergo an oral defence;
Students should consult the Graduate Record for the general requirements for a Master of Arts in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As they approach the midpoint of their program, students should carefully read the flyer, "How to Get Out with an MA in Asian Studies," and take note of deadlines for completing the MA thesis, applying for graduation, and filing final copies of MA theses.
M.A./M.B.A. Combined Degree

The MBA/MA program is a joint arrangement between Darden School of Business Administration and the East Asia Center. It enables students to combine the MA program described above with Darden's excellent MBA program, including an internship in East Asia.

Students enrolled in the joint MBA/MA program, a three year program, will normally spend the first full academic year in the program taking courses in the Darden School, and will not enroll in East Asian studies courses in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences until the following fall. When necessary, an intensive nine-week language training course is taken during the following summer. The second year incorporates both MA and MBA courses, including more language training. A six-month research assignment in an Asian location follows the second year. These student projects are approved by the University and supported, in part, by Asian companies or Asian affiliates of multinational companies. For their sixth semester, students return to the University to complete the degree requirements, which include a Master's thesis.

There are usually 1-3 new students each year in the MBA/MA program, and they are considered a regular part of the student body in both programs.

Applying for Admission

The MA/Asian Studies Program admits fewer than ten students each year. Copies of the Graduate Bulletin and the application form are available from Graduate Admissions, 437 Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901, phone (434) 924-3838. Applications can be submitted online. Completed applications must be received by the Graduate School by December 15th for consideration for Fall admission (the usual and preferred semester to begin the program). The application deadline for spring semester admission is October 1.

A complete application requires an application form, statement of purpose, transcripts from all universities attended, an official report of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score, and two letters of recommendation. An academic-critical writing sample is recommended but not required. If you choose to submit one, it should be between ten and twenty pages and should be indicative of your academic capacity and achievement. A paper on a subject relevant to East Asia is most helpful. TOEFL scores are required of students whose most recent degree is from a foreign-language university. Applicants to the joint MA/MBA program may not submit the GMAT score in lieu of the GRE score. Applications may be accompanied by resumes, and other relevant documents. Information about the GRE test may be obtained by writing the Educational Testing Service, Box 955, Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

Applicants to the MBA/MA Program -- Prospective students may apply simultaneously for admission to both Arts and Sciences and the Darden School or may apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences during the first year in the Darden program. In either case, separate applications must be submitted. Darden School application forms are available from: Director of Admissions, The Darden School, P.O. Box 6550, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22906.

Requests for additional information about the MA in East Asian Studies may be addressed to: Bradly W. Reed; Corcoran Department of History; P.O. Box 400180, Nau Hall; University of Virginia; Charlottesville, Virginia 22904. Phone number (434) 924-6399 . E-mail address: bwr4k@Virginia.edu.

Application criteria

Prospective applicants are reminded that the Asian Studies Masters Degree program is an interdisciplinary program. Those with a specific interest in a single academic discipline and a regional focus on Asia should consider applying to the appropriate academic department. The interdisciplinary nature of the program imposes other important demands on the student. Students are expected to meet the requirements of graduate-level courses in a variety of disciplines. Therefore, it is essential that applicants can demonstrate excellent writing skills, analytic ability, and intellectual maturity. Further, because completion of the degree requires demonstration of third-year competence in either Chinese, Japanese, Korean and TIbetan language and because of the demands of non-language, graduate-level courses, preference is shown for applicants with one to two years of previous language training. Applicants from China or Japan are not eligible for this program unless their intent is to study a language other than their native language. The admissions committee looks for combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores of above 1200 and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2.

Financial Requirements and Aid

Graduate School tuition and fees in the 2004-2005 academic year are $7,817 for Virginia residents and $19,925 for out-of-state residents. Other expenses average $6,500 for single students.

There are currently no graduate fellowships or assistantships available in East Asian Studies. Students can apply for financial aid through the work/study and student loan programs. For more information, contact the Office of Financial Aid to Students, P.O. Box 9021, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22906, phone (434) 982-6000.


Quick Index:

1. What is required in the application?

  • An application form, available online through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website: http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/gradschool/admissions/
  • A statement of purpose
  • Transcripts from all universities attended
  • Official GRE General Test scores (UVa's code is 5820)
  • Official TOEFL scores if your undergraduate degree was conferred by a non-English language institution
  • Two letters of recommendation

2. What about a writing sample?

An academic/critical writing sample is recommended, but not required. If you choose to submit one, it should be between ten and twenty pages, and should be indicative of your academic capacity and achievement. A paper on a subject relevant to East Asia is most helpful.

3. Can I submit other materials with the application?

Yes. Applicants in the past have submitted their resumes or CVs, additional letters of recommendation, or other documents relevant to their experience or education.

4. Do you accept students from China or Japan?

Yes. However, the program is designed to give students a broad, interdisciplinary introduction to the field of East Asian Studies. In accordance with our mission, we are not likely to accept applications from students wishing to study their own country (i.e., while a student from China wishing to study Japan may have a successful application, a student from China wishing to study China is less likely to be offered admisison).

5. Do you offer financial aid?

Unfortunately, we are not currently able to offer grant assistance or teaching opportunities to any students in the M.A. program. Many students in the program find part-time work at the University or in Charlottesville to help defray expenses.

6. What are the application deadlines?

  • December 15 for Fall Admission
  • October 1 for Spring Admission

7. Should I be proficient in an Asian language before I apply to the program?

The degree requires third-year proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Tibetan. Though language proficiency is not necessary for admission to the program, students should allow themselves time to gain proficiency, understanding that credits earned through languages courses do not count towards the required number of credits for the degree.

8. Can I study Southeast Asian nations in the program?

In a word, no. Our program is focused mostly on China and Japan; we also have courses in Sino-Tibetan studies and a very limited number of courses on Korean studies. We do not have sufficient course offerings to warrant a concentration in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, or other Southeast Asian/Pacific countries. When offered, though, a limited number of courses on Southeast Asia may be counted towards the degree.

9. Do you offer a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies?

No. At this time, we only offer the interdisciplinary M.A. However, many departments doctoral programs allow concentration in East Asia. Graduate students have recently written dissertations involving East Asia in the departments of history, anthropology, religious studies, and politics.


Individual departments administer Ph.D. programs in East Asia, according to their disciplines. The East Asia Center encourages prospective doctoral students to contact these departments directly. Departments which have recently granted doctorates to students specializing in East Asia include