Program Description

Master of Arts in South Asia Studies

The MA in South Asia Studies is a flexible program that offers students an interdisciplinary curriculum that may be tailored to their individual interests over one or two years of study. The curriculum combines core seminars with a specialization (at least four courses) in a single discipline and electives in an array of fields across Columbia University.
In addition to specializations in disciplines such as Anthropology, Art History, Earth and Environmental Sciences, History, Literature, Music, Political Science, Religion, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the program offers the opportunity to develop a specialization that includes courses in one of Columbia’s professional schools, including the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Public Health, Journalism, and Law.  Students may work with faculty affiliated with the Earth Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. 
Students may choose to pursue extensive study in a South Asian language.  The university offers language instruction in Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu.  Sinhala is available through the "Shared Courses" initiative, live-streamed from Cornell, via interactive classrooms located in both sites.  The Columbia Global Center in Mumbai provides logistical support for students wishing to do internships and summer research in India.  

The MA curriculum includes the required core course, “Introduction to the Study of South Asia,” which will introduce students to key issues in the study of South Asia across several disciplines; a minimum of four electives in the student’s chosen specialization; a minimum of three to four additional South Asia-related courses in any discipline; and the capstone thesis course, where the student completes a master's thesis in consultation with an advisor from the student's field of specialization. 

Students opting to develop their language skills, including those intending eventually to pursue a PhD, may take additional language coursework and usually choose to complete the MA in three to four semesters.  Students may study language from the Elementary to the Advanced level, but only Advanced level language courses earn credit toward the M.A. degree.  

A list of recent master's theses shows the variety of topics and disciplines that students have chosen to pursue within the context of the South Asia Studies M.A.

Recent graduates of our MA program have been accepted to competitive doctoral programs at Columbia, Cornell, McGill, NYU, and the University of Cambridge.  Graduates of the MA program are working in the fields of Journalism, the non-profit and NGO sector, and at the United Nations.

FLAS Fellowships and partial scholarships are available for MA students on a competitive basis.  For further information, see the Financial Aid webpage.

Contact the MA Program in South Asia Studies

For additional information and questions about the Master of Arts in South Asia Studies, please contact Professor Katherine Ewing, at

Additional information about the MA Program:

Degree Requirements

List of Recent MA Thesis Topics


Early Admission (BA-MA Program)

Financial Aid

For Current Students

Selected Course Descriptions