Small World Map
Great Wall, China Cherry Blossom, Japan Rice Terraces, Vietnam Mount Everest, Nepal Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar Krabi Island, Thailand

Academic Programs

The chart below shows eight different ways in which MSU undergraduates may pursue majors related to Asia. Students in all majors have the option to pursue the cross-disciplinary Asian Studies Specialization, which requires a minimum of 21 credit hours in Asia-focused courses and can be added to any major in any college. Specialization students have found employment in international business and finance, global supply chain management, foreign service, education, and NGO work, as well as entering professional/graduate school. The Asian Studies majors offered in College of Social Science, College of Arts and Letters, and James Madison College, along with the Asian Studies Specialization, are rigorous and high-quality programs that require intensive language learning and Asia-focused coursework. They also require or strongly encourage study abroad. These majors meet the needs of both the increasingly diverse student body and the growing demand for comprehensive and fully integrated programs of study on Asia.

Ten of MSU's 17 colleges regularly offer Asia-focused courses and faculty continue to create new and relevant courses for college-wide audiences such as "Gandhi's India in History, Literature, & Film," "Sacred Music of Asia and the Pacific Rim," and "Special Topics in Geography: China & Globalization." The Asian Studies Center also sponsors course-based colloquia and conferences that highlight Asia's diversity and importance in the world. Recent colloquium themes have included "History and Memory in Asia," "Focus on Central Asia," and "Political Ecologies & Environmental Politics in Asia, Past & Present."

Language instruction

MSU offers instruction in 23 Asian languages, 22 of which are designated priority languages by the U.S. Department of Education, including majors and minors in modern Chinese or Japanese. In 2007, the Teaching Chinese and Teaching Japanese programs were created to respond to the need for well-trained K-12 teachers of East Asian languages. The Korean Language Program, which offered only two years of instruction in 2004, now has a complete four-year program with the option to study Korean at Yonsei University in Seoul. A minor in Korean language and culture is currently under development. Arabic course offerings, which anchor language programs in West Asia, have significantly increased. MSU initiated fourth-year advanced Arabic in 2007 and independent study and research classes were taught in Arabic in 2008. In 2006, MSU initiated an Arabic Flagship Program (AFP) and Arabic language partner program with Dearborn Public Schools. Established to help Michigan students gain superior-level competency in Arabic, AFP provides personalized study plans consisting of traditional language courses complemented by co-curricular activities, personalized tutoring, and overseas study.

Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs)

Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) are world languages that are less frequently studied by Americans. All languages except English, French, German, and Spanish are considered LCTLs. The MSU LCTL program coordinates those less commonly taught languages that have variable enrollments, but are considered of critical need. Some of these are taught as traditional teacher-fronted classes, and some are taught as individualized, small-group classes. Most of the language classes offered are open to everyone, but some have limited enrollment or may only be available for graduate students who have received language fellowships. Native speakers of a language, heritage speakers who have some proficiency and those who already have some instruction in a language should refer to the Tests and Waivers page. Many scholarships are available for study of Less Commonly Taught Languages. Non-MSU students are welcome to enroll in these classes, usually under the LIFELONG category. Visit MSU's Lifelong education pages.

Asian Studies in professional schools

MSU's graduate and professional colleges have rapidly built or expanded their curricular offerings in Asian Studies at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Asia content is part of internationalized graduate curricula in the College of Arts and Letters, College of Social Science, Broad College of Business, Comm. Arts and sciences, College of Education, Law, and Music. Asian studies graduate students can choose from numerous courses in these colleges to meet their needs and draw on the mentoring of faculty across campus that have expertise in Asia. For example, in CoE, all undergraduates must complete TE 250, a teacher education course on internationalizing classroom education in which Asia is one of the central foci. Master's students, many of whom are in service in mid-Michigan schools, are required to choose from TE 890, 891, and 923, which offer Asian content. These required elements of the CoE teacher education program prepare K-12 teachers to accurately and effectively incorporate Asia into their lessons.

Majors at MSU for students interested in Asia






Global & Area Studies: Asia

Social Science


Area studies in global context; history, sociology, culture, ethnicity, environment, economics

24 semester credits in Asian area courses; two years of Asian language study; capstone course with research paper or project focusing on Asia. Study or internship abroad recommended.

Global & Area Studies: (International development – Asia)

Social Science


International development in Asia; environment, politics, economics, education, community development

24 semester credits in International Development; two years of Asian language study or one semester study abroad in a developing Asian country; research capstone or internship abroad

Chinese *

Arts & Letters


Chinese language, literature, and culture

4 years full years of Mandarin Chinese, 2 courses in Chinese literature & culture; 1 elective Chinese course; 1 East Asian themed cognate; capstone experience. Study abroad encouraged.

Japanese *

Arts & Letters


Japanese language, literature, and culture

4 years full years of Japanese, 2 courses in Japanese literature & culture; 2 elective Japanese courses; 1 East Asian themed cognate; capstone experience. Study abroad encouraged.

Global Studies in Arts & Humanities

Arts & Letters


Crossroads of cultures, tensions within & across global spaces as reflected  through art,  literature, philosophy, religion, & linguistics

36 semester hours of applicable coursework; 2 years of an Asian language; 1 semester of study abroad or internship abroad is required.

International Relations

James Madison College


Organized around themes of international security, conflict resolution, international political economy, global governance, foreign policy, comparative, regional and cultural studies

51 semester hours of applicable course work; 2 years of a single foreign language, 3 semesters of economics and one field experience (internship) or study abroad.

Comparative Cultures & Politics

James Madison College


Intersection of culture and politics in international and national arenas. Transitional institutions, actors and processes that affect cross-cultural interactions. Analyze culture and politics across the world. Comparative and transnational studies.

51 semester hours of applicable course work; 2 years of a single foreign language, 3 semesters of economics and one field experience (internship) or study abroad.

* Minors in Chinese and Japanese also available.

Teacher certification for both elementary and secondary education are available through MSU College of Education

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Asian Studies Center
International Center
427 N. Shaw Lane, Room 301
East Lansing, MI 48824
Tel: 517.353.1680
Fax: 517.432.2659

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