Graduate Program in Southeast Asian Studies

The Master’s Program in Southeast Asian Studies is an interdepartmental program centered on the study of the arts and cultural life in Southeast Asia and the diasporas. To understand Southeast Asia as a region, students need to make sense of and engage with its diverse expressive forms of culture (including visual arts, literature, and performance) which are crucial in building and maintaining individual as well as group identity both within and across national or ethnic boundaries.  Additionally, the region will be studied with an emphasis on historical, religious, and ethnographic perspectives.

We strongly encourage interested applicants to consult our faculty profile page to learn about our areas of research and advising or to contact the Graduate Advisor before applying.

Requirements for Admission

All applicants must comply with the standard admission requirements as established by the Graduate Division. In addition, applicants must

1) indicate a distinct interest in a region by way of their Statement of Purpose, and

2) submit a writing sample (preferably a past term paper or course essay) to demonstrate basic skills of scholarship.

Students may also apply concurrently for the Southeast Asian Studies M.A. – Ph.D. Track in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, History, or Music. For more information on M.A. – Ph.D. tracks, please contact the Graduate Advisor.

Deadlines for applications and admissions are on UCR’s Graduate Division website here.

Foreign Language

Students must acquire (or increase) a distinct level of proficiency in at least one language relevant to Southeast Asian Studies prior to beginning research for the thesis and no later than the fifth quarter in the program. The required proficiency can be demonstrated by way of an exam or by completing one year of course work with a “B” or better.

Core Course Work

All students are required to pass the Proseminar in Southeast Asian Studies (SEAS 200) with a “B” or better.  Additionally, students must pass (with a “B” or better) four of the following six seminar courses:

SEAS 201  Southeast Asian performance

SEAS 202  Southeast Asian religions

SEAS 203  Southeast Asian cultures

SEAS 204  History of Southeast Asia

SEAS 205  Literatures of Southeast Asia

SEAS 206  Media in Southeast Asia

In addition, they select four other seminars (at graduate and upper division level) in accordance with their main field of interest and pending approval by the Graduate Advisor and the student’s Thesis Committee. A total of 40 units of coursework, including thesis, are required for the degree in Southeast Asian Studies.

Students concurrently enrolled in another M.A. graduate program in a cooperating department (Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, History, or Music) may include up to 16 units earned in that program toward the 40 units of the M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies. For all others, there must be at least 36 units uniquely applied to the Southeast Asian Studies degree. If the concurrent program requires a thesis, students may (with the approval of the Southeast Asian Studies faculty) be awarded the M.A. degree by passing a comprehensive examination.


Students are to conduct original research that should form the basis for a thesis, to be written under the supervision of a member of the program who also functions as the chair of their Thesis Committee. At the beginning of the second year students should write a research proposal outlining their research project.  Approximately ten pages in length this proposal should describe the aims of the research and provide a broader theoretical framework. After the proposal is approved by the Thesis Committee, and a copy submitted to the SEATRiP Graduate Advisor, students begin to conduct individual research in the field or in the library. The finished thesis should be a minimum of 50-60 pages in length. Before filing the thesis with the Graduate Division students must pass a formal oral examination. The Thesis Committee must have a minimum of two SEATRiP faculty members.

University Requirements

All master’s students must be enrolled for at least three quarters to fulfill the University residency requirement and must hold at least a 3.00 GPA in all upper division and graduate level course work related to the degree.  A minimum of 36 units must be completed of which 24 must be graduate level (200 level).

Normative Time for the degree is two years.

For additional information, please contact our Graduate Student Academic Advisor, Mr. Uriel “Odie” Jasso, at (951 827-2237), or our Director and faculty Graduate Advisor, Dr. Christina Schwenkel at