Course Majors

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Asian Studies invites students to make connections among courses that differ widely in content and method.

When considering applicants to the major, the Asian Studies Committee looks for evidence of intellectual flexibility and independence. Students must have completed at least two Asia-related courses in different departments with grades of B or better to be accepted into the major.

The major in Asian Studies consists of a minimum of ten (10) credits, with requirements and distribution as follows:

Geographic Breadth

Coursework concerning more than one of the regions of Asia (East, South, Northeast, and Southeast). This requirement can be fulfilled by taking at least two courses that are pan-Asian or comparative in scope or by taking at least one course on a country that is not the principal focus of a student's program.

Disciplinary Breadth

Courses must be taken in at least three different departments.

Temporal breadth

At least one course focusing on the Premodern or Early Modern (before 1900) Eras, and at least one course on the Modern (after 1900) Era must be completed. This requirement can be fulfilled by taking at least two courses that examine substantial material on both the Premodern/Early Modern and Modern Eras.


Intermediate and Advanced Work

A minimum of 5 credits must be completed at the intermediate or advanced level in at least two departments. 

Asian Language Study

Asian language study is not required but is strongly recommended. Up to 4 credits of language study may be applied toward the major. For languages offered at Swarthmore (Chinese and Japanese), courses above the first-year level may count toward the major.

For Asian languages not offered at Swarthmore, courses at the entry level may count toward the major if at least the equivalent of 1.5 credits is earned in an approved program.

Culminating Exercise

Students in the Asian Studies Course Major have a choice of culminating exercise.

  1. Thesis option: A 1- or 2-credit thesis, followed by an oral examination. A thesis must be supervised by a member of the Asian Studies faculty. Students normally enroll for the thesis (ASIA 096) in the fall semester of the senior year.
  2. Qualifying papers option: Students revise and expand two papers they have written for Asian Studies courses in consultation with Asian Studies faculty members.
  3. Honors Seminar option: Students take a 2-credit honors seminar in an Asian Studies topic in either their junior or senior year. (Note: A two-course combination or a course plus attachment will not satisfy this requirement.)