University of Washington

Office of Academic Services

Thomson Hall Room 111

Bachelor of Arts Degree-Asian Studies

South Asia Option


Program Description

The South Asia Option of the Asian Studies degree offers students a framework within which to carry out the interdisciplinary study of the peoples and nations of the South Asian subcontinent-India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. The curriculum combines rigorous training in one or more South Asian languages with study of various aspects of modern and classical South Asian civilizations. The University has a distinguished faculty of scholars who provide instruction in diverse areas of South Asian studies, offering a rich variety of courses on these topics.

The South Asia Option draws on the notable strength the program has in classical South Asian languages, literatures, and religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism. Several of the South Asia faculty teach courses in Comparative Religion. Areas of expertise include the religious literatures of northern India in the late middle ages, and South Asian Buddhism. A related strength of the program is in the area of musical arts of South Asia. For example, members of the ethnomusicology faculty provide courses on the music and culture of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They also sponsor regular instruction and performances by distinguished visiting artists, many of whom come to the campus to provide instruction in the musical and performance traditions of South Asia.

The second focus of the option is in modern and contemporary South Asia. Topics covered include international development, public affairs, architecture, law, business, women and gender studies, environmental protection and nature conservation, health and demography, communications, dalit studies and postcolonial literatures. For instance among these faculty are experts teaching courses on international feminism, cultural aspects of international development, social ecology of the tropics, South Asian architecture, media and communications, international relations and human rights, education and youth cultures, contemporary political changes and government. Faculty with research and teaching interests in South Asia work in departments or interdisciplinary programs including Anthropology, Architecture, Business, Comparative Religion, Communications, English, Ethnomusicology, Geography, History, International Studies, Law, Public Affairs, and Women Studies.

Languages of South Asia offered on a regular basis by the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures include Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit. There are special offerings of other major languages, such as Pali, Gujarati, Panjabi, and Nepali, as well as special fields such as sociolinguistics, Vedic literature, Bhakti literature, epigraphy, and Paninian grammar. Instruction is available both in English and, for advanced students, in the languages involved. South Asian Studies graduates have gone on to graduate programs in various academic disciplines, as well as careers in government service, journalism, teaching, research, international trade, and the travel industry.

-Anand Yang, Chair

Admission to Major - open major

Any undergraduate in good standing may declare Asian Studies (South Asia concentration) as a major.

Degree Requirements


Students must complete the equivalent of two years of a South Asian language (30 credits) at college level or demonstrate through the 2nd year level of proficiency.


  • Introductory courses:
  1. JSIS 201, The Making of the 21st Century (5)
  2. JSIS 203, The Rise of Asia (5) or JSIS A 207 Asian Civilizations: Traditions (5);
  3. one South Asian History course chosen from:
    HSTAS 201, South Asian History, prehistory to 1500 (5),
    JSIS A/HSTAS 202, South Asian History, 1500 to present (5), or
    JSIS A 206, Contemporary India and Pakistan (5)
  1. An approved thematic or cross-regional course (5); and
  2. a minimum of 30 credits in approved upper-division courses on South Asia selected from the disciplines of anthropology, art history, comparative religion, economics, literature, music, history, linguistics, philosophy, and political science.
  • Asia Research Paper: In addition, an approved research paper is required in one of the upper-division South Asia-related courses with the approval of the adviser.
  • A minimum grade of 2.0 in all courses counted toward the major is required, except for first- and second-year language courses, where grades must average at least 2.00. Thirty of the 35 credits required for the thematic/cross-regional and South Asia option courses must be taken in residence at the University of Washington.
  • Overlapping credits: A maximum of 15 credits that are used to fulfill minimum requirements of any other UW major can be counted in this major.

To see the requirements on a planning sheet, browse to our checklist below.

A list of courses approved for the thematic/cross-regional and South Asia option electives and requirements is available in the Jackson School Office of Student Services in Thomson 111 and by following this link (click HERE).

For a list of current courses offered click HERE.

Minor Requirements

30 credits, to include the following:

  1. HSTAS/JSIS A 202 or JSIS A 206 (5 credits)

  2. One additional introductory Asian civilization course from JSIS A 207 (Asian Traditions), JSIS 203 (Rise of Asia), JSIS A/HSTAS 212 (Korea), JSIS A/HSTAS 241 (Japan), JSIS A 242 (Japan), JSIS A/HSTAS 221 (Southeast Asia), HSTAS 201 (South Asia), HSTAS 211 (China)--10 credits

  3. 15 credits of electives taken at the UW, chosen from the approved list*

  4. 5 additional credits in South Asian language beyond second-year level, or in upper-division transfer courses on South Asia, or in additional electives chosen from the approved list*

  5. Minimum grade of 2.0 required in each course applied toward the minor.

*For a list of approved electives, follow this link.

Library Facilities

Visit the Suzzallo Library South Asia Home Page:

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African Studies Program
University of Washington
326 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195

Joel Ngugi / Chair
Associate Professor, School of Law

Mary Kay Gugerty/Adjunct Director
Associate Professor, Evans School of Public Affairs

Erin Murphy/Program Assistant
Autumn Quarter Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 9-12, or by appt.
206.616.0998 office
206.685.0668 fax

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