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
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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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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

South Asia Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2017-2018
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 SA.790.820 Comparative Political & Economic Development in South Asia and must be taken in the first year of study. Students starting at SAIS Europe must take the course in DC.
South Asia Studies concentrators must also fulfill the requirements for the field of Asian Studies, which include 2 Asian Studies area 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 16 credits. The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (prerequisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (prerequisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student passes a waiver exam in one of these areas, the student must take a replacement International Economics program course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term will have the concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed). The Pre-Term Microeconomics course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.

Beyond the requirements, many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

Concentration GPA Requirement
Students must achieve a combined GPA of at least 2.67 in four (or three if Microeconomics is passed in Pre-Term) required International Economics program courses or they must retake the course(s) until a 2.67 concentration GPA is achieved. In the standard case, the concentration GPA will be the average of the grades of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.

If one or more of the four standard courses is waived, the school will use the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics program course(s) to compute the International Economics concentration GPA.



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)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (prerequisite Corporate Finance)

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

If a student passes the statistics waiver exam, the student must take an alternate course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Starting with the entering class of Fall 2017, students who pass Statistical Methods for Business & Economics in Pre-Term will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. The Pre-Term course is not for credit and is not factored into the GPA.



All students must pass 2 core courses and/or exams from the subjects below. South Asia Studies concentrators must pass Comparative Politics as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the core course(s) for credit.

  • American Foreign Policy Since World War II
  • Comparative Politics
  • 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 the school. 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:

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


Entering Class 2016-2017
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:

  • 3 South Asia Studies courses (12 credits) including:
    • SA.790.820 Comparative Political and Economic Development in South Asia 
    • 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
  • 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.

To add or change a minor, please click HERE.



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

Fall 2015

Contact Us

Address & Phone

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