Asian Studies Master of Arts

Asia is one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing regions of the world, and its significance in the 21st century is undeniable. Asia comprises almost 30 percent of the earth's land mass and is home to 60 percent of the world's population; the continent is as diverse as its populations, which drive the region's shifting role in the global arena.

On the path to sustained economic development, Asia’s urban migration and international trade are exploding. Problems still endure, however. The region is a flashpoint for conflicts, and its economic benefits are not evenly distributed. The Elliott School’s Master of Arts in Asian Studies program prepares students to navigate this dynamic environment and address complex diplomatic, economic, security, and cultural issues. Subscribe to the Elliott School’s email list to learn more about the M.A. in Asian Studies program, including how to register for an upcoming Elliott School information session.

Icon: World map focused on Asia with a magnifying glass

What You'll Study

Students in this program will gain a fundamental understanding of the key political, economic, and historical issues facing Asia. You'll begin with three to four core courses before moving on to complete your Thematic Specialization and Professional Specialization.

Program of Study


Thematic Specializations

The required thematic specialization will deepen your understanding of issues in contemporary Asia. You can choose from among five thematic specializations.

Thematic Specializations

Professional Specializations

You must select three courses listed for one of the Professional Specialization fields. You may design your own field with the approval of the Program Director, or select from one of the listed fields.

Professional Specializations

Global Capstone

Global Capstone is the culminating experience and signature project for Elliott School graduate students.

Global Capstone


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How to Apply

When you're ready to apply to the program, you will need to follow the graduate admissions process, including completing and submitting the online application with all of the required materials. There are also certain prerequisites that applicants must meet to be able to apply to the program.



Academic coursework in an Asian language, which will prepare students to complete the program’s language requirement*, must be shown at the time of application. This can be demonstrated by:

  • Study that is equal to four semesters of university-level coursework or equivalent.
  • Completion of formal language training as part of employment (ex. Peace Corps).
  • Growing up in a household where the language is spoken.

*Students need to have a strong foundation in an Asian language before enrolling to be successful in completing the language requirement during the program.


Door sign for the Elliott School's Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Institute for Korean Studies

Affiliated Institutes and Organizations

The M.A. Asian Studies program is housed in the Elliott School’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies, which provides distinctive benefits to our students.

The Institute for Korean Studies strengthens the existing Korean studies program at GW and within the greater D.C. area.

The Organization of Asian Studies (OAS) is a graduate student organization that seeks to foster an appreciation of Northeast, Southeast, Central and South Asian culture as well as explore historical and current affairs issues. The organization focuses on strengthening ties between students, faculty and professionals with an interest in Asia through ambitious programming and events, all made possible by the support of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies.


Britt Robinson, MA Asian Studies class of 2021

Most Universities have humanities-focused Asian Studies or regional graduate degree programs, but there are only a handful of schools in the US that have policy-focused Asian Studies programs. This put GW at the top of my list.

Britt Robinson
M.A. Asian Studies '21

Where You'll Go

Our M.A. Asian Studies graduates continue to pursue a wide variety of exciting careers in diplomacy and public service, business, security, conflict resolution, development and public health. For 2021 graduates, the top employers included: 

  • Centra Technology, Inc.
  • National Institute for South China Sea Studies
  • US Department of Homeland Security
  • US-China Business Council

While you study with us and even once you leave, we'll provide you with resources and support to help you get the job you've always wanted post-graduation. From career counseling, workshops, site visits and information sessions, The Graduate Student Career Development Center has a variety of tools and tips to get you to where you want to be.

Find Career Resources


Tracie Yang, MA Asian Studies class of 2018

I chose the Asian Studies program because the curriculum really pushed me to get the most out of my graduate degree, while also being flexible enough to pursue specific subjects and specialties.

Tracie Yang
M.A. Asian Studies '18

Read Tracie's Alumni Spotlight

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