MA in East Asian Area Studies

The East Asian Area Studies (EAAS) Master of Arts is an interdisciplinary program designed to provide advanced academic background in East Asia. Candidates are able to design a program of study based on individual scholarly and professional goals, concentrating on one country (China, Japan, or Korea) or developing region-wide expertise.

The East Asian Area Studies MA Program is designed to provide advanced academic background on East Asia. Students will work closely with faculty advisors to design their program of study and complete a Master’s thesis. Whether you are looking to the MA degree to give you the academic background on East Asia for the next step in your professional career, or as a stepping stone to a PhD program, out MA degree offers the flexibility and rigor to meet your goals.

Applications are accepted for the fall semester only. All applicants must apply through the USC online application system.

Refer to the USC Graduate Admissions website for a step-by-step admission guideline to help you easily navigate the application process here:

The Admissions Committee will only review completed applications with all required test scores and supporting documents submitted by the application deadline of January 5, 2024, for the 2024-2025 academic year.

  • Applications are accepted for the fall semester only. All applicants must apply through the USC online application system. The application deadline for Fall 2024 admission is Friday, January 5, 2024.

    For a full list of required materials, scores and instructions on applying to the MA in East Asian Area Studies program, click here.

  • Language

    Equivalent to 3 years of Chinese/Japanese/Korean language proficiency, either through coursework or placement test.


    Six graduate-level courses (4 units each)

    • EASC 592: Proseminar on Issues and Trends in Contemporary East Asia (4 units)
    • 1 Cultural history course (4 units)
    • 4 Additional courses (16 units) with the approval of the graduate advisor.


    • EASC 594a: Master’s Thesis (2 units)
    • EASC 594b: Master’s Thesis (2 units)

    USC Graduate School’s Thesis Submission Guidelines

    Master’s Committee

    The master’s committee consists of at least three and no more than five members. The committee chair must have an appointment in the student’s program (Dornsife College). At least two of the members must be full-time faculty in the student’s home program and may be tenured, tenure track or RTPC. All committees must have a majority of members from the students’ home program.

    A USC faculty member from outside the student’s home program is called an “outside member.” For outside faculty, the judgment of qualification to serve will be made by the dean of the school of the outside faculty member’s primary appointment. The dean of the outside member’s school must sign the Appointment of Master’s Committee form.

    Committee members are responsible for reviewing thesis drafts and providing feedback in a timely manner. The responsibility of the committee as a whole is to examine the student’s work and to make a final determination of the acceptability of the thesis. The student will be responsible for working with the committee to determine a timeline for submitting drafts for feedback, leading up to the final submission and approval process through the USC Graduate School.

    Total: Language + 28 Units

  • • Ability to apply methods of critical and social analysis from anthropology, sociology, international relations, political science, economics, literature, arts, and/or history to the study of East Asia.

    • Ability to apply interdisciplinary methods to the analysis of East Asian cultures, polities, and societies.

    • Ability to analyze both primary and secondary source reading by identifying the main arguments or thought, placing it in context, and interpreting it critically based on the logic and evidence presented.

    • Ability to analyze the interplay between human action and institutions and organizations in East Asia, either historically or in the contemporary world.

    • Knowledge of the key facets of East Asia’s place in our globalized world and the ability to analyze the influence of globalization in East Asia.

    • Ability to identify strategies and choices East Asian countries have made in pursuing economic, political, cultural, and social development.

    • Sixth semester or better competence in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean language.

    • Ability to conduct research, collect and analyze sources, write clear and coherent prose, and make compelling and original arguments as demonstrated in a thesis paper.

    • Develop intraregional perspectives by examining points of contact, conflict, and cooperation between different East Asian countries through comparative analysis.

  • Applicants for the Joint MBA/MA must first apply and be accepted into the full-time Marshall School of Business MBA program. In order to pursue a joint MBA/MA degree, students can apply for the MA in East Asian Area Studies during their first year of study in the MBA program.

  • Graduate students interested in East Asian Area Studies must be enrolled in an advanced degree program in the Graduate School or in a professional school at the university. While preparing for an MA, PhD or other graduate degree, they may earn a certificate in East Asian Studies, which certifies special area competence beyond discipline requirements.

    The certificate requirements provide the student with two options.

    • The first requires that the student write a thesis and take four graduate-credit courses in East Asian studies in any department. An oral examination is given on the thesis.
    • The student instead takes six graduate-credit courses in the East Asian area and takes an oral examination on three research papers and on relevant graduate work. This option does not require a thesis.

    As a part of both options some basic East Asian history and at least two years of study or the equivalent of an East Asian language are required. The student makes the basic decisions on the program to be followed in consultation with a three-member interdisciplinary committee approved by the director of the East Asian Studies Center.


    For further information, interested students can email the East Asian Studies Center at

  • As a part of a cooperative program between USC and UCLA, graduate students may be eligible to take courses at the other school as part of their degree program.
    Please see the USC/UCLA Resource Sharing Program Cross-Enrollment Procedures for USC Students.

  • How long does it take to complete the program?
    Students enrolled full-time typically finish the program in 2 years.

    Can I apply for spring semester admission?
    No. We only accept and review applications for fall semester admission.

    Can you mail me program material or a paper application?
    No. All applications must be submitted online through USC Graduate Admissions.

    What is the TOEFL exemption policy for international students?
    The TOEFL exam can be waived for international students under the following conditions:

    • If the applicant’s native language is English (e.g. students from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, excluding Quebec)
    • If the applicant has received his/her Bachelor’s degree from a college or university in a country where English is the main, official language and the language of instruction.*

    *The Bachelor’s degree must be from a full 4 (3 if in the U.K.) year program. Dual degree programs that were partially completed in a non-English-speaking country do not qualify. Countries where English is one of several main languages do not qualify, including, but not limited to, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa. High school degrees and graduate degrees do not qualify.

    To see whether or not your country or the country in which you received your Bachelor’s degree qualify, please check the Admission Requirements by Country page on the USC Office of Graduate Admission website.

    How many international students are admitted to the program each year?
    We do not have a set number of international students we admit to our program each year. Decisions on admission are solely based on the competitiveness of the applicant regardless of whether the student is domestic or international.

Contact Details

USC East Asian Studies Center

Graduate Advising

Grace Ryu, Associate Director

USC Graduate School