Education

Best Asian Studies Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Asian Studies programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Asian studies is the interdisciplinary study of the history, politics, and cultures of Asia. Asian studies degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in business, government, and education.

Asian studies degrees offer a broad overview of Asia, covering topics such as history, politics, and culture. Students in Asian studies degree programs learn about the different countries of Asia, and their customs and traditions. They also learn about the economic and political development of Asia, and the challenges that the region faces.

How to Choose the Right Asian Studies Program

When it comes to choosing the right Asian studies bachelor’s degree program, there are many factors to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are all important factors to keep in mind. Additionally, students should research the specializations offered at each program and the graduation requirements.

The cost of an Asian studies degree varies depending on the institution. When considering costs, students need to research tuition, fees, and associated expenses such as housing, commuting, and parking. Public schools offer a lower tuition rate for in-state residents. Location can also affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. Finally, the time to degree may make an expensive program less costly if students can transfer in college credits.

In addition to these factors, prospective Asian studies students also need to consider the specializations available at each program. Students can research the graduation requirements to learn how many general Asian studies classes they must take versus the specialized courses in their track.

Best Bachelor’s in Asian Studies Programs

The best programs for Asian Studies ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Rollins College
Winter Park, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Rollins College is an interdisciplinary program that combines traditional courses in social sciences and the humanities with an emphasis on area study and international experience. More than 75 percent of students in the program study abroad, giving them the opportunity to experience Asia’s global impact firsthand. The expert faculty members bring decades of experience into the classroom, serving as guides and mentors to help students hone their language skills and develop a greater understanding of philosophical and cultural concepts critical to the region.

Rank 2
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Cornell University is a degree that is rewarding for students of all backgrounds. The degree offers students career opportunities in law, business, government, journalism, arts, education, post-secondary education, and more. Because the field is so vast, each student works closely with a faculty advisor to design an academic program which meets individual interests, abilities, and career goals.

Rank 3
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from University of Virginia is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with exposure to East Asia through a variety of courses. The program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in business, government service, or media, or who want to enter professional schools or doctoral programs. The flexible program allows students to combine Asia-related courses from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with courses from both the Business and Law Schools. Students in the program can choose to specialize in modern and contemporary China or Japan, or the East Asian religious traditions.

Rank 4
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Brandeis University is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to give students a broad yet intimate knowledge of East Asian civilization. The program can be taken as a major or minor, and requires a core element of study in an East Asian language, providing the basis for postgraduate study or careers relating to East Asia.

As a regional studies program, the Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies also encourages participation in global learning, offering non-Eurocentric approaches to the Creative Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Through exposure to East Asia, students sharpen their critical skills regarding insights and the production of knowledge beyond Western traditions.

Rank 5
Boston University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Boston University is a flexible interdisciplinary program that focuses on East Asia and South Asia. Students in the program take courses in a variety of subjects, including history, political science, economics, and anthropology, among others. The program also requires students to study an Asian language for at least five semesters. Students in the program have the opportunity to study abroad in Asia for a summer, semester, or academic year.

Rank 6
Northeastern University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Northeastern University is a fourteen course program that focuses on East Asia. Students in the program are expected to spend some time in Asia in an academic setting, although this requirement does not have to be credit-bearing. The coursework for the major includes an introductory course on East Asia, a course on Asia in Global Context, and six electives chosen from a focus area. Students must also complete two years of an Asian language and an upper-level capstone course.

Rank 7
George Washington University
Washington, DC

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from George Washington University is a interdisciplinary program that focuses on the study of the Asian region. Students in the program take courses in history, political science, economics, and anthropology, and develop language skills in an Asian language. The program also offers study abroad opportunities and internships in Washington, D.C. to help students gain real-world experience.

Rank 8
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from University at Buffalo is an interdisciplinary degree program that focuses on the history, culture, and economies of Asian countries. Students in the program have the opportunity to study an Asian language and to participate in study abroad programs in Asia. The program also offers a minor in an Asian language.

Rank 9
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Florida International University is designed for students who want to pursue a career with a focus on Asia. The program takes a multidisciplinary approach to studying the region, covering topics such as language and culture, philosophy and religion, and arts and literature. Students also take classes on issues in history, politics, geography, sociology/anthropology, international relations, education, and business in the global environment.

Rank 10
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Florida International University is designed for students who want to pursue a career with a focus on the Asian region. The program emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach to study, covering topics such as language and culture, philosophy and religion, and arts and literature. Students also take classes on issues in history, politics, geography, sociology/anthropology, international relations, education, and business in the global environment. The program provides relevant and current instruction, advising, and experiential opportunities for students in an environment that promotes scholarship, critical thinking, free inquiry, and clear and candid communication.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Asian Studies Program

Students in a bachelor’s in Asian studies program can expect to learn about the languages, cultures, economies, and histories of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The degree typically requires about four years of full-time study and includes both classroom and fieldwork components.

Most programs begin with language study, allowing students to develop proficiency in an Asian language of their choice. Students then move on to coursework in Asian history, culture, politics, and religion. Many programs also include a study abroad component, giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in an Asian culture for a semester or more.

In addition to coursework, students in a bachelor’s in Asian studies program often complete an internship, research project, or fieldwork component. These experiences allow students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world settings.

Overall, a bachelor’s in Asian studies provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the Asia-Pacific region. The degree can lead to careers in fields such as business, government, education, and nonprofit organizations.

Common Asian Studies Courses

The coursework for an Asian studies degree will depend on the focus of the student’s program. However, there are some common courses that are often found in these programs.

Modern East Asia

This course covers the history of East Asia from 1600 to the present. Emphasis is placed on the major political, economic, social, and cultural developments in China, Japan, and Korea. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the major political, economic, social, and cultural developments in East Asia from 1600 to the present.

China Since 1800

This course covers the history of China from the late Qing Dynasty to the present day. Emphasis is placed on the major political, social, economic, and cultural developments during this period. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of China’s modern history and its place in the world today.

Southeast Asia Since 1945

This course covers the history of Southeast Asia since 1945, with an emphasis on the decolonization process and the region’s post-colonial experience. Topics include the origins and development of nationalism, the impact of World War II, the rise and fall of the Sukarno regime, the Vietnam War, the Cambodian Genocide, and the rise of Islam in Southeast Asia. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the major political, economic, and social developments in Southeast Asia since 1945 and evaluate the impact of these events on the region’s people and cultures.

Politics of Asia

This course surveys the major political systems of Asia, with an emphasis on the comparative study of authoritarianism and democracy. The course will cover a range of topics including the legacies of colonialism, the impact of globalization, nationalism and ethnic conflict, human rights, and the rise of China. The course will also consider the role of the military, the bureaucracy, and political parties in the politics of the region. Upon completion, students should have a better understanding of the major political systems of Asia and the factors that shape them.

Introduction to Buddhist Thought

This course is an introduction to the major ideas and practices of Buddhism. It covers the life of the Buddha, the development of the Buddhist tradition, and the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia. The course also covers the major schools of Buddhist thought, including Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. In addition, the course covers the major practices of Buddhism, including meditation, ethics, and social engagement. Upon completion, students should be able to understand the major ideas of Buddhism and how they have been applied in different cultures and contexts.

Career Options for Asian Studies Graduates

Graduates of Asian studies programs work in a variety of industries, including education, business, government, and nonprofit organizations. They may also work in fields such as international relations, marketing, and media.

Foreign Service Officer

Foreign service officers represent the United States in countries around the world. Their work includes promoting U.S. interests, such as by working to improve trade relations or by providing humanitarian aid; they also work to resolve conflicts and provide consular services to American citizens abroad. Foreign service officers typically have a bachelor’s degree and must pass a written exam and an oral assessment.

Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence analysts study and interpret data to support their agency’s decision-making process. They might work for the government—at the local, state, or federal level—or for a private company. Intelligence analysts use their research and writing skills to prepare reports and briefings, often on tight deadlines. They also use their analytical skills to identify patterns and trends in data, which can help inform decision-makers about potential threats or opportunities.

Area Studies Professor

Area studies professors teach students about a particular geographic region, such as Europe, Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East. They focus on the history, politics, economy, culture, and languages of the region. In addition to teaching, area studies professors often conduct research and write about their areas of expertise. They may also work as consultants for government agencies or private businesses that operate in the region.

Translator

Translators convert written or spoken material from one language into another. They must be able to understand the source material and accurately convey the meaning in the target language. Translators may work in a variety of settings, including government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits. They may also work as freelance translators, which gives them the flexibility to choose the projects they want to work on.

Interpreter

Interpreters facilitate communication between people who speak different languages. They may work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, community centers, courtrooms, and business meetings. In some cases, interpreters may work remotely via telephone or video conferencing. The job requires excellent language skills and the ability to convey meaning clearly and accurately. Interpreters must also be able to understand the context of a conversation and adjust their interpretation accordingly.

Insights From an Asian Studies Graduate

Parker Gregory is a China Market Analyst at Nike. He has a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from the University of Oregon. Parker has over 3 years of experience in China market research and analysis.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your Asian Studies program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Parker Gregory: I think the biggest takeaway from my program was the ability to see both sides of every issue. In the business world, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and only see things from your own perspective. But my program taught me how to understand and empathize with people from different cultures, even if I don’t agree with them.

It’s a valuable skill to have in today’s economy, where more and more businesses are global. And it’s also just a good way to be a decent human being!

ClimbtheLadder: What should students interested in Asian Studies be good at?

Parker Gregory: To be successful in Asian studies, students should be good at research, writing, and critical thinking. They should also have an interest in Asia and its cultures.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Parker Gregory: The most challenging course I took was Chinese History. It was difficult because I had to learn a lot of new vocabulary to be able to read the texts we were assigned. My advice would be to start studying the vocabulary early on and to try to find other resources that can help you understand the material.

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