The Major

Goals of the Major

Majors acquire a general acquaintance with South or Southeast Asia, as well as a more in-depth knowledge of the cultural history, literature, or religion of the particular culture or area of their choosing. They are able to engage critically with contemporary scholarship on South or Southeast Asia as a whole, and on their chosen field of specialization in particular.

Our majors also gain facility in at least one South and Southeast Asian language and master its grammar. In their chosen modern language, at a minimum, they can read stories and articles, are able to engage in everyday conversation, and can write simple prose. In the classical languages such as Sanskrit, students have basic facility in reading a variety of genres in the original and, to this end, can comfortably avail themselves of standard research materials such as dictionaries, traditional grammars, and the most up-to-date online resources.

Major Advisers

All majors must be assigned a Major Adviser, with whom they will meet at least once each semester.  Upon declaring the major, students should meet with our Student Affairs Officer Presi Diaz and with our Undergraduate Faculty Adviser in order to lay out their course of study.  The Undergraduate Faculty Adviser assists students, based on their interests, in selecting a Major Adviser from among the ladder-rank faculty in the Department.


Major Requirements (44 Units Minimum)

Two lower division/gateway courses: Students select two courses from among the following: South Asia 1A, South Asia 1B, Southeast Asia 10A, or Southeast Asia 10B.

  • South Asia 1A and 1B give students an overview of the history and textual traditions of the ancient and modern civilizations of South Asia.
  • Southeast Asian 10A and 10B are broad civilization courses that give students a grounding in the religions, history, cultures and literatures of Southeast Asia.

At least 26 units of upper division courses that include:

  • Two years (i.e., four semesters) of instruction in any supported language OR one year at the advanced level (upon passage of the relevant placement examination). Note: Students may not enroll in language courses at a level lower than that of their assessment, or than that of a previously passed course in the same language. There are no exceptions.


  • Additional courses, numbered 110 or above, that include:

Note that certain courses (e.g., Introduction to Buddhism C52, Religious Studies 90, and any 200-level, graduate course from within the department [with permission of the instructor]) may be substituted for upper-division courses within the Department. Students may contact the Undergraduate Student Advisor to ascertain the eligibility of courses not listed here.

Of these required courses:

    • A maximum of one course may be taken P/NP.
    • A maximum of two courses from other departments may be counted toward the major.

Courses offered by other departments but cross-listed with SSEAS count as SSEAS department courses. Courses offered by other departments and not cross-listed with SSEAS may be approved for the major on a case-by-case basis through petition to the Student Affairs Adviser and the Faculty Undergraduate Student Adviser.

Double majors may count a maximum of two eligible courses towards both the SSEAS major and the second major.

Prerequisites to Declaring the Major

  • One semester of language study (with a letter grade of B or higher)
  • One lower division/gateway course as listed above (with a letter grade of C or higher)

Optional Honors Program for Majors

To be eligible for admission to the Honors Program, a student must attain a 3.5 grade point average or higher in courses completed in the major, and a 3.3 grade-point average across all courses completed at the University. An honors thesis is required, as is registration in SSEAS H195. Students who wish to participate must choose a thesis topic in consultation with their major adviser and apply for admission to the program through the Student Affairs Adviser no later than the first week of spring semester of their senior year.