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NOTE! The undergraduate major and minor in Asian Studies is no longer available. To explore the study of Asia please visit the Asian Languages and Cultures departmental website.

The Asian Studies Program (ASP) is an undergraduate interdisciplinary program that provides opportunities for students to learn in depth about some part of the vast area covered by Asia. Whether you are fascinated with the ancient world or the present, are an Asian politics junkie or an Asian arts maven, enjoy reading Classical novels or manga—or, perhaps, are drawn to all the above, and more—the Asian Studies major or minor may be right for you!

Through the study of a relevant language (Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, or Korean) and coursework in history, the humanities, and the social sciences, students gain a sophisticated critical understanding of a specific Asian region (East, South, or Southeast) or country. They also learn to examine the world and themselves through the lens of another language and culture. The program encourages in-depth study while also promoting more general inquiry into fundamental issues, such as cultural difference and its social and political implications and the significance of the transcultural and transnational flow of people and ideas.

Asian Studies students hone their aptitude for analyzing problems, conducting research, and presenting ideas in writing and in speech. They thus succeed in a wide range of careers. Some majors go on to law, management or medical schools with the intention of practicing their professions abroad where they can make use of their specialized area knowledge. Some majors go on to graduate school with the intent of becoming academics or of pursuing a variety of other possible careers. Other majors move directly into jobs with schools or non-profit organizations or businesses. All students who take ASP courses enrich themselves by expanding their understanding and empathy for rich civilizations distant from American experience.

Here are more details regarding the major. To repeat, the Asian Studies major combines substantial training in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, or Korean, and a stimulating, well-rounded mix of History, Humanities, and Social Science courses related to Asia. “History” classes are offered by the department of History; “Humanities” classes are offered by the departments of Art History, English, Radio/TV/Film (School of Communications), Religious Studies, and Asian Languages and Cultures and the Program of Comparative Literature; “Social Science” classes are offered by the departments of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology. ASP fields some courses of its own within each of these rubrics, as well. Not all classes in these disciplines count toward the Asian Studies major and minor; only courses that focus on Asia count for ASP credit. Lists of relevant courses can be found on our website. (Asian Studies majors must choose to focus on one of three culturally differentiated areas: East, South, or Southeast Asia. They may, however, also take Asia-related courses outside their concentration.)

Other students decide to take a varied but smaller roster of courses and complete the Asian Studies minor.

We also offer an honors program in which majors may enroll in independent study courses to write a senior research thesis.

While Northwestern does not have an Asian Studies area program at the graduate level, graduate students may study these areas in discipline-based departments such as History, Art History, Political Science, Comparative Literature, Anthropology and Sociology.

ASP includes faculty specialists from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences as well as other Northwestern schools. ASP is an umbrella program rather than a department, meaning that it draws on the resources of many departmentally-based faculty to teach the courses in the program. The strength of Asian Studies at Northwestern lies in the number and quality of the faculty who are Asian specialists, the variety of courses they offer, the scholarly resources of the library, and the many visiting speakers. In addition, students enjoy the off-campus educational resources of Chicago, including the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, and Asian drama and musical productions that periodically pass through Chicago. Chicago also offers many Asia- related recreational activities, notably restaurants, movie theaters, and stores specializing in Asian products.

ASP accommodates diverse levels of student preparation and interest. Many individual courses, notably 100- and 200-level courses, but also many 300-level courses, are designed for students with no background in Asian Studies.

Approved courses are listed on the ASP web site. Students should speak to the ASP program director to plan a course of study that meets their individual needs and interests. 


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