South and Southeast Asian Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

This program offers emphases in the following languages and cultural traditions: Hindi, Urdu, Indonesian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Tamil, and Khmer. Literature is understood in the widest sense to include not only creative writing and cultural expression in the various genres but also sources concerning religion, philosophy, history, and the fine and performing arts. The analysis of cultural expression is also understood to include attention to social, anthropological, economic, and political contexts.

The program provides opportunities to explore the rich cultural, social, and religious histories of South and Southeast Asia as well as the living contemporary cultures of these areas. The curriculum covers cultural history, the classical literary canon, religious literature, folk and popular works, oral traditions, and performance media (including recitation, musical and dramatic performance, dance, and film), and modern literatures of the colonial and post-colonial periods.

Advanced proficiency in the language of emphasis is a central goal, as is the ability to undertake the sophisticated textual study of a broad range of literary works in that language.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of the extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary linkages by pursuing courses offered by the South and Southeast Asia faculty in other departments on the UCB campus. Students are also encouraged to pursue courses and independent reading that will familiarize them with pertinent methods in the various disciplines (such as contemporary literary theory, ethnographic theory, historiography, and cultural studies theory). Appropriate comparative work on Asian and non-Asian cultures is encouraged as well.

The PhD in South and Southeast Asian Studies prepares students for academic careers in teaching and research not only in South and Southeast Asian Studies, but also in comparative literature, religious studies, history, Asian studies, and cultural studies.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Master's Degree Requirements


Courses Required - All Language Concentrations (Hindi, Urdu, Indonesian, Sanskrit, Tamil and Khmer)​

Two lower division/gateway courses
Students select two courses from among the following:
Introduction to the Civilization of Early India [4]
Introduction to the Civilization of Medieval and Modern India [4]
Introduction to the Civilization of Southeast Asia [4]
Introduction to the Civilization of Southeast Asia [4]
Additional courses, numbered 110 or above, that include:
At least one "Literature" course. Partial list:
Modern Indian Literature [4]
Hindu Mythology [4]
India's Great Epics [4]
Introduction to Modern Indonesian and Malaysian Literature in Translation [4]
Mainland Southeast Asian Literature [4]
Articulations of the Female in Indonesia [4]
Southeast Asian Cultures, Texts, and Politics [4]
Philippines: History, Literature, Performance [4]
DUTCH C164 The Indonesian Connection: Dutch (Post)colonial History and Culture in Southeast Asia [4]
At least one "Religion and History" course. Partial list:
Buddhism in Contemporary Society [4]
Tibetan Buddhism [4]
Religion in Early India [4]
Hindu Mythology [4]
Pakistan: An Introduction [4]
Death, Dreams, and Visions in Tibetan Buddhism [4]
Special Topics in South and Southeast Asian Culture [3]
Topics in South and Southeast Asian Studies [4]
Required SSEASN graduate course:
SSEASN 294Methods in South & Southeast Asian Studies4
SSEASN Graduate Course Electives/specialized study list, includes:16
Graduate (or Upper Division with approval) Seminars (2) in major language
Historical knowledge of major area
Courses Required - Sanskrit Additional Requirement
Linguistics Department Course
SSEASN 375Methods and Problems in Teaching South and Southeast Asian Studies3

Doctoral Degree Requirements


Unit minimum: 24

Required courses:
SSEASN 294Methods in South & Southeast Asian Studies4
SSEASN 375Methods and Problems in Teaching South and Southeast Asian Studies3
Additional requirements:
Four graduate seminars in the language and literature of emphasis;
One history seminar;
Courses that satisfy the language requirement (which may count–in the case of South or Southeast Asian languages–toward the ten-course program requirement if taken at the upper-division or graduate level);
Appropriate course work in the second and third fields to be covered in the Oral Qualifying Examination, as determined by the Academic Adviser and the second- and third-field faculty examiners.


Languages and Culture:


South and Southeast Asian Studies

South and Southeast Asian Studies

South Asian Studies
















Contact Information

Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies

7233 Dwinelle Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720-2540

Phone: 510-642-4218

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Department Chair

Sylvia Tiwon

342B Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Advisor

Kristen Brooks

7307 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4219

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