South Asia Studies

South Asia Studies
South Asia Studies
South Asia Studies

The South Asia Studies program offers an opportunity to concentrate on a region whose importance in international affairs is increasingly recognized by the policy and corporate community.

The South Asia Studies program offers an opportunity to concentrate on a region whose importance in international affairs is increasingly recognized by the policy and corporate community.

The South Asia Studies program offers an opportunity to concentrate on a region whose importance in international affairs is increasingly recognized by the policy and corporate community.

Program Activities
Events Calendar
External Resources

The South Asia Studies Program provides a foundation for understanding the dynamics of this crucial region and offers students the opportunity to concentrate on a part of the world whose importance in international affairs is increasingly recognized by the policy and corporate community.

The curriculum provides an insight into the central dilemmas of modern politics, economic development and social change present in the region. Interdisciplinary courses address South Asia’s growing economic and strategic importance as well as its political history, its complex social structures and the challenges of development.

For the latest on the South Asia Studies Program read our program newsletter here.

The Patels of Gujarat: Challenges to the Quota System. A Discussion with Dr. Christophe Jaffrelot
The Kashmir Dispute: Can it be Resolved? A Discussion with Dr. Pervaiz Cheema of NDU
The Way Forward in the Asymmetrical Partnership between China and India. A Discussion with Zhenming Zhong
Getting with it: Putting Momentum behind the US-India Nuclear Deal: Vijay Sazawal and Paul Murphy
Chinese Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific: Hu Zhiyong
Prosperity, Freedom and a Modern Indian Constitution: Atanu Dey and Rajesh Jain
Understanding the socio-economic impact of migration to the Gulf: March 2014 study trip to Nepal
Participants of the Myanmar Study trip, January 2015
March 2013 Alumni Dinner in Kathmandu with Saurav Rana, SAIS '12
Students meet with Pourakhi, an NGO working on safe migration, during a March 2014 study trip to Nepal
Visiting a Chinese Special Economic Zone near Addis during a January 2014 study trip to Ethiopia to understand Chinese and Indian investment in Africa
Meeting with the World Bank in Addis during January 2014 study trip to Ethiopia to Study India and China's Investment in Africa
Students on the January 2014 India Infrastructure study trip at Agrasen ki Baoli.
Meeting with Tata Power in Delhi, during January 2014 India Infrastructure study trip
Prabuddi Weerasinge, Sri Lankan dancer performs at the South Asia Rereat, September 2013
Taj Mahal, India, January 2012
Hindu temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka (SAIS South Asia Study Trip March 2013)
Study trip participants flying to Jaffna, Sri Lanka, March 2013
Students meeting with Bao Steel, Shanghai, 2013
Participants of China Study Trip in the Forbidden City, January 2013
Visiting Scholar, Neelima Kota, presenting Indian CG to Shanghai a book about Paul H. Nitze
Student participants in Shanghai, China, January 2012
Students meeting NY Times journalist David Barboza in Shanghai, January 2012
Students in Shanghai for "Chindia" Trip, January 2012
Participants of the China- India Study Trip, January 2012
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Program Activities


South Asia Studies Newsletter

We plan to bring out a newsletter each quarter during the school year with the goal of informing our students, alumni and friends about recent program activities. 

Past Issues

Winter 2016

Fall 2015



Student Study Trips Sponsored by South Asia Studies

It is the goal of the South Asia Studies Program to ensure that while studying at the school, students have the ability to visit the region and experience firsthand many of the themes discussed in the classroom.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, South Asia Studies organized trips to:

  • South Africa to study Chinese and Indian economic and political engagement (2016).

For the 2014-2015 academic year, South Asia Studies organized trips to:

For the 2013-2014 academic year, South Asia Studies organized trips to:

  • Ethiopia to study Indian and Chinese foreign aid and investment (January 2014). This trip will bring together students from Indian, Chinese and US institutions of higher learning  and was sponsored by the US-India-China Initiative.
  • India to study infrastructure development (January 2014)
  • Nepal (Co-sponsored with Middle East Studies) to study migrant labor and the role of remittances (March 2014)

For the 2012-2013 academic year, South Asia Studies organized trips to:

  • Shanghai and Beijing, China to study Sino-Indian Relations (January 2013)
  • Colombo and Jaffna, Sri Lanka to study post conflict reconstruction and development (March 2013)

Study Trip Travel Blogs


South Africa: Chinese and Indian Economic and Political Engagement in South Africa


New Delhi, India: Infrastructure and Development (2015)

Yangon, Myanmar: Chinese and India Investment in Myanmar (2015)


New Delhi, India: Infrastructure and Development (2014)

ddis Ababa, Ethiopia: Chinese and Indian Aid and Investment in Ethiopia (2014)

Kathmandu, Nepal: Socio-Economic Impact of Mass Migration to the Gulf (2014)

Students will be given more information about applying during orientation. Priority will be given to second-year South Asia Studies students. In most cases, study trips are nearly fully funded. For additional questions please contact




Internship choice is critical to the student’s academic studies and career prospects. The program director, program manager and other faculty members work closely with students to identify and pursue opportunities appropriate to their interests within the region or relevant organizations in the United States.


South Asia Career Luncheon Series

To complement students’ course work, the South Asia Studies Program hosts biweekly luncheons on careers that would be relevant to students concentrating in South Asia. Here students have the opportunity to network with academics, policymakers, journalists, businesspeople and NGO representatives and to research career options. South Asia students will be invited to all career luncheons and will be given a schedule of upcoming speakers during orientation. Lunch will be provided by the program and attendance and active participation is encouraged.

Fall 2015 South Asia Studies Events


South Asia Seminars

In addition to a biweekly career luncheon series, the program hosts a number of public seminars on various topics related to South Asia. Past speakers include the Maldivian and Bangladeshi foreign ministers, the current foreign secretary of Pakistan, ambassadors from the region and the US assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asia.


South Asia Retreat

The South Asia Studies Program hosts a retreat for its students and faculty members at the beginning of each academic year.  Students have the opportunity to become acquainted with each other and the program. The retreat includes a debate by policy experts on a topical issue, an administrative brief, leisure time, a classical musical presentation and a dinner with fellow local South Asianists.



South Asia Studies | MA Academic Requirements

South Asia Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2016-2017
MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 courses (48 credits) or 14 courses (56 credits) as approved by Academic Affairs.
Students concentrating in South Asia Studies must take at least 4 courses within this program. One of those courses must be Comparative Political & Economic Development in South Asia (SA.790.820) and must be taken in their first year (those starting in Bologna must take the course in DC).
Students also must fulfill the general requirements for the field of Asian Studies, that is, an additional 2 Asian Studies courses outside of South Asia Studies.
Students in South Asia Studies also have the option of pursuing a specialization in the International Relations of Asia (AsiaIR).



Students must complete 4 courses within this program.
·         Microeconomics
·         Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
·         International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

Students must receive a 2.67 average in the 4 required economics courses or they must retake a course(s) until a 2.67 average is obtained. If any of the 4 courses are achieved by passing a waiver exam or during Pre-Term, the student must substitute an economics elective course(s) in place of the waived course(s) in order to fulfill the economics requirement above. In this case, SAIS will use the highest economics program elective course grade(s) to compute this average if a student is replacing one or more of the 4 required courses of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory or International Monetary Theory.



Students must complete one course from the list below.
·         Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
·         Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
·         Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Risk Analysis and Modeling
·         Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.



All SAIS students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses in addition to their concentration requirements. South Asia Studies concentrators must pass Comparative Politics as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the second core is not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll in second core course.
·         American Foreign Policy Since World War II
·         Comparative Politics (old name Comparative National Systems)
·         Evolution of the International Systems
·         Theories of International Relations



South Asia Studies MA candidates must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi). All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering SAIS. Native Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) speakers must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English.



South Asia Studies concentrators must complete ONE of the following capstones:
1.     South Asia Studies Oral Exam.
2.     MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)



Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010


South Asia Studies Minor Requirements: (as of AY 16/17)  

  • 3 South Asia courses in total
  • 1 required course, Comparative Political and Economic Development in South Asia (SA.790.820)
  • 2 additional South Asia courses, of which, 1 must have a South Asia prefix SA.790.XXX and the other may be cross-listed with South Asia

General Minor Requirements:

  • Minors are optional (like specializations)
  • A student can minor in only one area
  • A student cannot pursue a minor in International Economics or IR/General, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • Minors consist of three courses
  • Some minors will have a required course(s)
  • A student may use a maximum of one cross-listed course (or 4 credits) towards both a minor and concentration. In this case, the minor would require just two additional courses. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area (e.g., Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, China, Japan, etc.) and not from the two additional required courses across the other IR or Asia areas. Note: IR/General concentrators can always minor in an IR sub-field or approved policy area (Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, International Law and Organizations, International Political Economy, Energy, Resources, and Environment, or Strategic Studies) by taking just two extra courses (8 credits).
  • Regional minors may require language study or proficiency in the language of that region
  • A student can declare a minor at any time—prior to graduation
  • Students who are pursuing a minor in a program will not have bidding priority in that program (only concentrators)

To add or change a minor, please click HERE.


South Asia Studies Fall 2015 Events


South Asia Studies Collaboration with New America and Foreign Policy Magazine
Promoting Growth and Prosperity through Collaboration and Exchange

Contact Us

Walter Andersen
Administrative Director of the South Asia Studies Program, Senior Adjunct Professor
Rome 720

Address & Phone

South Asia Studies
Rome Building
1619 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC

(202) 663-7721