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Undergraduate Programs

  • The major and signing into the major.
  • The list of advisors for the major.
  • Honors Program
  • Area Minors
  • IMPAC: Intensive Mandarin Program At Cornell
  • Study Abroad
  • Undergraduate Travel Grants
  • Major in Asian Studies

    A major in Asian Studies is a rewarding one, for the growing global importance of Asia means increasing career opportunities in law, business,government, journalism, arts and education for students who choose Asian Studies.

    Asian Studies encompasses the geographical areas of East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and offers courses in most of the disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities. Asian Studies courses through the 4400-level are taught in English and are open to all students in the university. Some of these courses may be counted toward majors in other departments. Over a dozen Asian languages are taught at Cornell,with IMPAC (Intensive Mandarin Program at Cornell) providing intensive language work in Chinese during the summer for students who wish to attain fluency quickly.

    To become an Asian Studies major, applicants must first successfully receive a minimum grade of B in at least two Asia content courses. These may include one language course, but writing seminars do not fulfill the requirement. Applications to major in Asian Studies must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies.

    The major must be declared no later than the second semester of the junior year. Admission to the major after the start of the seventh semester will be by petition only.



    Completion of the major requires 30 credits at the 2200 level and beyond with a minimum grade of B (S/U not accepted), including:

    • 1 course at the 3300 level.
    • 1 course at the 4400 level.
    • A maximum of 6 credits of language study beyond those required for proficiency may be used.
    • At least 1 course from two of the Asian Studies course categories (RL, SC, LL).
    • Demonstration of 2-year proficiency in an Asian Language:
      • Testing into and completing the second semester of the 2nd year of that language
      • Obtaining a 2-year proficiency test result
      • Testing into a language course beyond the 2200 level.
    • Writing an exit statement at the time of the application to graduate to the advisor and the DUS evaluating what was gained by choosing an Asian Studies major.
    • The majors can choose an additional major (double major) in another discipline. Courses taken to complete a double major also fulfill the normal requirement for elective units. Because the field is so vast, each major works closely with a faculty advisor to design an academic program which meets individual interests, abilities, and career goals. Students in their senior year are encouraged to take at least one course at the 4400-level or above, depending on their interests and proficiency.

      In addition to course work, there are many extracurricular activities related to Asia. These include an annual Japanese film series, a Gamelan group, clubs in most of the martial arts of Asia, student societies for most of the Asian nations, visiting lecturers and performing groups, and arts exhibitions. There are numerous Asians studying and teaching on the Cornell campus, and the visits of Asian scholars, diplomats, journalists and performers provide students with additional opportunities to meet people from the cultures they are studying. We encourage majors to become familiar with the activities of the East, South, and Southeast Asia Programs on campus.

      To keep track of your progress use the Major Degree Requirements Worksheet.


      Application to the major

      If you are interested in the major as presented and have completed the prerequisite courses, you should:

      • Obtain a "Major in Asian Studies" application from the Asian Studies Office, 350 Rockefeller Hall. (Please note the narrative component of the application.)
      • Based on your interests, select and obtain the agreement of a Department of Asian Studies faculty member who is willing to serve as the major advisor. Have your intended advisor sign the Major in Asian Studies application form.
      • Schedule an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Asian Studies Department, Professor Jane-Marie Law,
      • Bring the application form and a copy of your current Cornell transcript to the meeting with Professor Jane-Marie Law. (The informal transcript that is available to you through "student center" is acceptable.)
      • Return the approved forms to the Asian Studies Department Office, 350 Rockefeller Hall.
      • Completion of the major

        At the time of the application to graduate, the student is required to provide a written statement to the advisor and the DUS evaluating what was gained by choosing an Asian Studies Major.


        Honors Program

        To be eligible for honors in Asian Studies, students must have a cumulative grade average of 3.7 in all Asian Studies courses and must successfully complete an honors essay during their senior year. Students who wish to be considered for honors should apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies during the second term of their junior year. The application must include an outline of the proposed project and the endorsement of a supervisor chosen from the Asian Studies faculty. During the first term of the senior year, the student does research for the essay in conjunction with an appropriate Asian Studies course or Asian Studies 4401. By the end of the first semester, the student must present a detailed outline of the honors essay and have it approved by the project supervisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The student is then eligible for Asian Studies 4402, the honors course that entails the writing of the essay. At the end of the senior year, the student has an oral examination with at least two faculty members covering both the honors essay and the student's area of concentration. Check out titles of recent Honors Theses. See the Honors Page for details.


        IMPAC Intensive Mandarin Program At Cornell

        For those students desiring to accelerate their acquisition of Chinese, Cornell offers a full-time, intensive summer language program: IMPAC (Intensive Mandarin Program At Cornell). For further details on the program, please see the IMPAC website.