Southeast Asia Studies

Why Southeast Asia Studies at JHU SAIS?
Why Southeast Asia Studies at JHU SAIS?
Why Southeast Asia Studies at JHU SAIS?

Southeast Asia is now a region of dynamic, rapidly developing societies: 11 countries, 600 million people, and a GDP of over $1 trillion. Elections and markets matter more than strife and revolution.

Offsetting the high cost of education, fellowships include the Philip W. Thayer Fellowship, the Alumni & Friends Fellowship, the Prem Fellowship, and the Freeport McMoRan Fellowship.

The program brings together 35-40 highly qualified US and international students annually - generating an unprecedented number of regional experts in the public, private, and multilateral sectors.

Program Activities
Events Calendar
Our Alumni
The Southeast Asia Studies Program provides students with an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the nations, states, institutions and peoples of Southeast Asia in the 21st century. The program offers courses in Southeast Asia history, politics, economics, development and security.
Students are attracted to Johns Hopkins SAIS’ unique dual-concentration structure combining international economics and regional expertise. To prepare students for the demanding working environment of Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asia Studies Program offers a rigorous, policy-oriented curriculum, language training in Burmese, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese, advice and support on internship opportunities in Washington and the Southeast Asia region, Washington-based fora that examine domestic politics and international relations of Southeast Asian countries, and an unsurpassed global alumni network.
Myanmar President U Thein Sein speaking at SAIS on May 20, 2013 during the first official trip to the United States by a Myanmar head of state in 47 years.
Adrian Stover (M.A. '13) in Vietnam on a SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Language Fellowship over the January inter-session break.
Bao-chiun Jing (M.A. '12) with H.E. Fidel V. Ramos, former president of the Republic of the Philippines, at a SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Wednesday Lunch Seminar
Jatuchatra Chommai (Prem Fellow; M.A. '13) interning at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta (SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Summer Internship Program, 2012).
Alexandra Stuart (M.A. '12) at PT Freeport-McMoRan in West Papua for a summer internship during her M.A. studies.
Ran Hu (M.A. '12) working at HSBC in Bangkok on a SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Summer Internship Fellowship.
H.E. Chaiyong Satjipanon, ambassador of Thailand to the United States, presents a gift contribution to SAIS Thai Club members.
Michael Karnow offers welcoming remarks at a SAIS Philippines Roundtable honoring his father Stanley Karnow (co-sponsored with the U.S.-Philippines Society).
Reception in honor of a delegation of Myanmar parliamentarians during their visit to SAIS.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and SAIS students on SAIS Burmese language fellowships during January inter-session in Myanmar
Aichida Ul-Aflaha (Freeport-McMoRan Fellow; M.A. candidate) in Myanmar on a SAIS Burmese language fellowship.
Myanmar Health Minister Pe Thet Khin led a delegation to Washington for a week-long executive education program organized by SAIS Southeast Asia Studies.
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Program Activities


Roundtables and Fora

The Johns Hopkins SAIS Philippines Roundtable, Burma Study Group, Indochina Roundtable, and the Southeast Asia Studies Wednesday Lunch Seminar offer opportunities for students to interact with diplomats, policymakers and academics concerned with Southeast Asia. In addition, conferences, special lectures, book launches and film screenings introduce students to established regional expertise and cutting edge scholarship. More.



Between the first and second year of studies, students participate in internships of eight weeks duration in Southeast Asia. Internships provide students with the opportunity to combine theory and practice, to gain hands-on experience in a professional field, and to experience the rich and varied dimensions of Southeast Asian societies.


Language Training

Language expertise in Bahasa Indonesian, Burmese, Thai or Vietnamese gives graduates a strong competitive edge. Proficiency in a modern language helps students broaden their regional competency. The program may assist, depending on funding availability, students to secure additional language training in the region during the January inter-sessions in well regarded local academic institutions such as the Alam Bahasa Language School (Yogyakarta), Unity Thai Language School (Bangkok), and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Ho Chi Minh City).


Johns Hopkins SAIS-Myanmar Initiatives

More than five decades after closing its center at the University of Rangoon, Johns Hopkins SAIS is rebuilding ties to Myanmar as it emerges from a half century of military rule.


The Asia Democracy Study

The Johns Hopkins SAIS-USKI Asia Democracy Study was a research initiative looking at public opinions on attitudes and behaviors toward democracy and governance in Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. The 2011 survey can be found here. More information on the Study can be found here.


Southeast Asia Studies Newsletter

Past editions: Winter 2016Spring 2015Summer 2013Fall 2012, Winter-Spring 2012, Fall 2011, Spring 2011, and Fall 2010




Southeast Asia Studies | MA Academic Requirements

Southeast 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 Southeast Asia Studies must take at least 4 courses within this program.
Southeast Asia Studies concentrators must also fulfill the requirements for the field of Asian Studies, which include 2 Asian Studies area courses outside of Southeast Asia Studies.
Students in Southeast 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. Southeast 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


Southeast Asia Studies concentrators must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Burmese, Indonesian, Thai or Vietnamese. All non-native English speakers are also required to pass an English placement exam upon entering SAIS. Native speakers of one of these Southeast Asian languages must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English. Native Southeast Asian speakers who pass the English placement exam or proficiency upon entry are encouraged to pursue language study or proficiency in a Southeast Asian language other than their own.



Southeast Asia Studies concentrators must complete ONE of the following capstones:

  • Southeast Asia Oral Exam. The exam is designed to test substantive knowledge and oral communication skills covering SEA politics, economics, history and their impact on international relations. The one-hour exam will be administered by the Program Director, Associate Program Director and others as designated by the program.
  • 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


Southeast Asia Minor Requirements:

  • 3 Southeast Asia Studies (or cross-listed) courses (12 credits)
  • 2 semesters of a Southeast Asia language (Burmese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese) or proficiency. Native Southeast Asia language speakers must pursue a minimum of 2 semesters of a Southeast Asia language other than their own.

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.


Our Alumni


Funding and Alumni Network

A strong network of funding sources coupled with a global alumni network support educational and employment opportunities for students.  Fellowships include the C.V. Starr Fellowship; the Prem Fellowship for Thai Studies; the Freeport McMoRan Fellowship for Indonesians; the Tran Thi Quynh Hoa Fellowship for Vietnamese; the USINDO-SAIS  Edward E. Masters Fellowship Program for Indonesian foreign service officers; the Philip W. Thayer Fellowship (with major funding from the Henry Luce Foundation) for students and visiting scholars from Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam, including junior faculty members from government training academies; and the Southeast Asia Studies Alumni & Friends Fellowship. Additionally, the Southeast Asia Studies Program initiated a joint program with the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Chung Ang University to provide full tuition for one Burmese Foreign Service officer for one year at the school followed by one year at a Korean graduate school.

Graduate Profiles

Frederic Neumann (Class of 2005) is the senior economist at HSBC in Hong Kong, responsible for the Asia region. Originally from Luxembourg, Fred has taught courses on macroeconomics and Asia and was a consultant for the World Bank and various governments.

Shari Knoerzer (Class of 2002) works for Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold as director of social responsibility and community development - Asia/Africa. Her first five years at Freeport were spent in Indonesia.

Edison Sian (Class of 2004) is in the Philippines setting up a social enterprise to target the healthcare needs of the poorest communities. His goal is establishing micro-clinics throughout the archipelago to combat the five main causes of death in over 70% of the population.

Bruce Schulman (Class of 1998) funded the Paul D. Wolfowitz Fellowship Prize in Southeast Asia Studies in honor of Ambassador Paul D. Wolfowitz, former dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS, to recognize the second-year Southeast Asia Studies MA student with the highest GPA. Prize recipients: Wallis Yu (2011), Sean Creehan (2012), Elizabeth Vish (2013), Daniel Greenland (2014), and Bartholomew Thanhauser (2015).


Contact Us

Karl D. Jackson
C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Southeast Asia Studies
Rome Building, Office 619

William M. Wise
Practitioner-in-Residence, Southeast Asia Studies
Rome Building, Office 621

Address & Phone

Southeast Asia Studies
1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036

(202) 663-7721