Master's Program

M.A. in East Asian Area Studies

Candidates for the M.A. degree are able to design an interdiscplinary program of study based on individual scholarly and professional goals.  Students choose from courses offered by departments and professional schools across the university, concentrating on one country (China, Japan, or Korea) or developing region-wide expertise. Students work closely with faculty advisors to design their program of study and to complete the required Masters thesis. There are over 96 faculty members affiliated with the East Asian Studies Center whose teaching and research interests focus on the countries of East Asia.  

Degree Requirements


  • EASC 592: Proseminar on Issues and Trends in Contemporary East Asia (4 units)
  • 1 of the following cultural history course (4 units):
    >EALC 531: Chinese Cultural History
    >EALC 532: Korean Cultural History
    >EALC 533: Japanese Cultural History
    >HIST 534: Studies in Modern Japanese History
    >HIST 535: Studies in Japanese History
    >HIST 536: Studies in Chinese History
    >HIST 540: Studies in Modern East Asian History
    >HIST 560: Transpacific History

  • 4 additional courses (16 units) from the course list with the approval of the graduate advisor.
    Example list of courses offered recently (not comprehensive):
>IR 534: East Asian Security Issues
>IR 551: International Political Economy
  of the Pacific Rim
>IR 561: Japanese Foreign Policy & International
  Relations of East & Southeast Asia
>IR 563: Chinese Foreign Policy
>POSC 637: Seminar in Chinese Politics
>PPD 559: China from a US Policy Perspective
>PUBD 520: Regional Studies in Public
  Diplomacy: East Asia
>CMGT 580: Chinese Media and Society
>EALC 503: Chinese Poetry
>EALC 504: Selections from Modern Chinese Lit
>EALC 507: East Asia in Cross-Cultural Theories
>EALC 509: Transnational Korean Cinema
>EALC 515: Classical Japanese Poetics
>EALC 520: Modern Japanese Writers
>EALC 530: Race, Ethnicity, and Multiculturalism
  in East Asia
>EALC 535: Proseminar in Chinese Visual Culture
>EALC 545: Japanese Literary Criticism and Theory
>EALC 556: Seminar on Women and Family in China
>EALC 561: Topics & Issues in East Asian Linguistics
>LBST 505: East Asian Humanities: Classics
  of China, Korea, and Japan
>REL 599: Readings in Japanese Buddhism:
  Setsuwa and Miracle Literature
>REL 599: Religion and Politics in East Asia
>AHIS 518: Seminar in Chinese Art
>AHIS 519: Seminar in Japanese Art


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

Check the USC Graduate School website for thesis submission guidelines and deadlines and check out the EASC MA Thesis Corner website for helpful tips on writing your thesis.

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

Total: 28 units + language 

Application Requirements

Applications are accepted for fall semester only. USC Graduate Admissions offers a web-based application in order to make the application process as easy and convenient as possible. Timely submission of required test scores and supporting documents by the application deadline of January 08, 2016 for academic year 2016-2017 is necessary for your application to be considered complete. Once you create your account, you will receive a USC PIN and password so that you may return to work on your application over several sessions. Only after you submit your application will it be available for review by our Admissions Committee.

Completed Graduate Application: Access the online application here: 
Application Fee $85 - Can be waived for USC employees, USC students/alumni, McNair Scholars, and those with financial hardship. Please see more information on the USC Graduate Admissions FAQ.
Official Transcripts From all colleges/universities attended. Please follow the instructions on the USC Graduate Admissions website and have transcripts sent to their office. Note: USC requires a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (on a scale in which A=4.0).
Official GRE Scores The minimum GRE score for consideration is 153 Verbal/144 Quantitative. Send your official GRE scores using the ETS institution code for USC: 4852.
Statement of Purpose: Describe your reasons for applying to the M.A. program in East Asian Area Studies in 2-3 pages. 
Three Letters of Recommendation: Your letters should come from those who could best address your ability to successfully undertake graduate level work.  These individuals may include professional colleagues, business superiors, or past faculty. Letters of recommendation from co-workers, someone you have supervised, or personal and family friends are inappropriate. The online application allows you to e-mail your recommenders and request that they send their recommendations through e-mail or mail them as hard copies. If you receive hard copies of your recommendations, you may scan and upload them in your online application in the “Supporting Documents” section or send them to the USC Graduate Admissions address below. 
International Applicants Only: 
  • Financial guarantee statement showing proof of the ability to pay all tuition and living expenses
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores taken within two years prior to the start of the semester of admission - Minimums for consideration: TOEFL score of 100 (Internet) or 600 (paper) within the last 2 years with no less than 20 on each section (listening/reading/writing/speaking), or IELTS score of 7, with no less than 6 on each band score.
  • Send your official TOEFL scores using the ETS institution code for USC: 4852. Send your official IELTS scores by choosing USC from the list of available institutions.
  • Please visit Admission Requirements by Country on the USC Office of Graduate Admission website to verify whether your home country or country of study exempts you from the English test requirement.
Writing Sample:  Optional and can be uploaded in your online application in the "Supporting Documents" section. 
Mail Documents To:  University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street
Room 112 
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

*Please do not mail any official test scores or other application documents to the East Asian Studies Center. Follow the instructions on the USC Graduate Admissions website and send all documents their office and upload supplemental documents through the online application.

Program Costs

For academic year 2015-2016, USC tuition is $1666 per unit. The tuition cost to complete the 28-unit Master's degree program in East Asian Area Studies is approximately $66,640 plus additional fees. Visit the USC Financial Aid Office website for more details.

USC/UCLA Cross-Enrollment

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.

Joint M.B.A/M.A.

Applicants for the joint M.B.A./M.A. must first apply and be accepted into the full-time Marshall School of Business M.B.A. program. Students may apply for the M.A. in East Asian Area Studies during their first year of study in the M.B.A. program. If accepted, students earn a joint M.B.A./M.A. degree.


The application deadline is JANUARY 8, 2016 for fall 2016 admission consideration.

Learning Objectives

• Knowledge of an 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 indentifyin the main arguments or thought, placing it in contact, and interpreting it critically based on the logic and evidence presented.

• Ability to analyze the interplay between human action and institutions and organizationg 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, 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.


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 either of two conditions: 1) If the applicant's native language is English (e.g. students from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, excluding Quebec); or 2) 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. 

Dual degree programs that were partially completed in a non-English-speaking country do not qualify. The Bachelor's degree must be from a full 4- or 3- (if in the U.K.) year program. 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 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 for 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.

  • East Asian Studies Center
  • 3454 Trousdale Parkway
  • College Administrative Services Building (CAS) 100
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0154