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The South Asia Studies Program provides students with a strong historical and theoretical foundation to understand the array of complex political, economic, and security issues in this dynamic region. Interdisciplinary course offerings focus on individual countries including India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; survey wider regional topics relating to the Indian Ocean, energy, economic growth, and the deepening relationships between South Asia and countries such as China and Japan; and highlight key US policy challenges pertaining to security, development, and political engagement.
In addition to the South Asia program course requirements, students are required to take classes from other Asian Studies programs. Hindi-Urdu and Farsi language classes are offered each semester to ensure students acquire proficiency in a major language in the region. South Asia Studies students are encouraged to enrich their academic experience by attending a wide range of Asia-related activities and events, and pursuing internships and research opportunities in Washington, DC and the South Asia region.
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  • [2]
    Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies and Director of Asia Programs
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [4]
  • [5]
    Associate Director, Asia Programs
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [7]
  • [8]
    Chung Ju Yung Distinguished Professor of International Economics and Business
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [10]
  • [11]
    Assistant Professor of International Political Economy
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [13]
  • [14]
    Associate Professor of the Practice of South Asia Studies, Fellow, Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies
    Washington, D.C.
    Email [16]

Program Activities



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.


Student Study Trips





  • Shanghai and Beijing: Sino-Indian Relations. 
  • Colombo and Jaffna: Post-conflict reconstruction and development. 




South Asia Studies | MA Academic Requirements (Entering Class 2018-2019)

Learning Goals and Objectives [25]

MA students must complete 64 credits and all degree requirements in order to graduate.

Students who are approved for a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing only need to complete 48 credits or 56 credits as determined by Academic Affairs, but still must fulfill all degree requirements.


South Asia Studies Concentration

MA students concentrating in South Asia Studies must complete 24 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. 16 credits must be South Asia Studies courses. One of these courses must be India's Challenges and the Future of a Sixth of Humanity (SA.790.727) and this must be taken within the first year. The remaining 8 credits must be from one or more of the programs below:

  • Asian Studies
  • China Studies
  • Japan Studies
  • Korea Studies
  • Southeast Asia Studies


South Asia Studies concentrators must complete one of the following capstones:

  • South Asia Studies Oral Exam.
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)

International Economics Concentration

MA students must complete a concentration in International Economics (16 credits). The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (pre-requisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (pre-requisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (pre-requisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student is waived [26] from a required course(s), the student must take a replacement International Economics course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement. Students who received the HNC Certificate in Chinese and American Studies may use one Level 2 Economics course as a replacement course, but this does not carry any credit value.

Students who pass the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term [27] will have this concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete the remaining required International Economics courses (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed).

International Economics GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an International Economics concentration GPA of at least 2.67.

In the standard case, the concentration GPA is the average of the grades in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.  If a student completed the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term, the concentration GPA is calculated based on the grades in the remaining required International Economics courses. If one or more of the required courses is waived, the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics course(s) is used.

Students who do not meet the minimum International Economics concentration GPA must re-take required courses (or take additional replacement courses if any required course(s) are waived) until the minimum is achieved. The highest grade from any attempt at a required course is used in this calculation.


Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

MA students must fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement (4 credits). Eligible courses include:

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (pre-requisite: Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (pre-requisite: International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (pre-requisite: Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as a replacement International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student is waived [28] from a Quantitative Reasoning course, the student must take a different course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Statistical Methods for Business & Economics course in Pre-Term [27] will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.


Core Requirements

MA students must fulfill two Core requirements. Students may fulfill a Core requirement by passing a for-credit Core course or by passing a non-credit Core exam.

For students concentrating in South Asia Studies, one of the Core requirements must be:

  • Comparative Politics

This must be completed prior to the start of the third semester.

The second Core requirement may be one of:
  • American Foreign Policy Since WWII
  • Evolution of the International System
  • Theories of International Relations

Students may not take a Core exam in the semester in which they plan to graduate. If Core requirements are not completed before the start of a student’s final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the Core course(s) for credit.


Language Proficiency

MA students must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a non-native language taught at SAIS. Students enroll in non-credit language courses to prepare for the proficiency exam.

South Asia Studies concentrators are required to demonstrate proficiency in Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi). Native speakers of Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at SAIS, which can include English.

All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for proficiency, and may be required to take additional English language coursework.


Electives, Minor, and Specializations

Beyond the requirements, MA students may have room in their degree for electives, a minor, and/or a specialization(s).

Students may pursue an optional minor in any policy/regional area [29] other than General International Relations.

Students may pursue an optional specialization(s) in five areas International Economics [30], the International Relations of Asia [31], or Emerging Markets [32].


Program Requirements by Academic Year

Entering Class 2017-2018 [33]
Entering Class 2016-2017 [34]
Entering Class 2015-2016 [35]
Entering Class 2014-2015 [36]
Entering Class 2013-2014 [37]
Entering Class 2012-2013 [38]
Entering Class 2011-2012 [39]
Entering Class 2010-2011 [40]
Entering Class 2009-2010 [41]


South Asia Studies Minor Requirements:

  • 3 South Asia Studies courses (12 credits) including:
    • SA.790.820 Comparative Political and Economic Development in South Asia or SA.790.727 India's Challenges and the Future of a Sixth of Humanity
    • 2 additional South Asia Studies courses (8 credits), of which at least 1 must have a South Asia Studies prefix SA.790.XXX.

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics [42]
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.



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

External Resources


Past Newsletters

Winter 2016 [46]

Fall 2015 [47]

Contact Us

Address & Phone

South Asia Studies
Rome Building
1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC