Photo of Stanford quad walkway

Degree Requirements

Complete East Asian Studies M.A. requirements are outlined on the Stanford Bulletin website. The Bulletin is the official record of program requirements; any typographical errors or omissions on this page do not supersede the bulletin text.

M.A. Degree Requirements At A Glance 

1. Language Proficiency:

Students must demonstrate Chinese, Japanese, or Korean language fluency at the third-year level or above, to be met either by coursework, examination, or a degree from a university where the language of instruction is in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. The language used to meet the proficiency requirement should match the country of research focus. For students taking the Stanford University language placement examinations to prove proficiency, please note that additional language coursework may be required to meet degree requirements, depending upon exam results. Required language courses must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a 'B' or higher.

2. Unit Requirements:

Minimum 46 units completed at Stanford (no transfer credits accepted), fulfilled by:

a) Minimum nine (9) content courses — at least 30 units of which must be at or above the 200 level (at or above 300 level for HISTORY and certain other departments) — which:

  • Includes EASTASN 330 core course, 3 units, offered in autumn quarter of the first year
  • Are on the approved East Asian Studies course list, or have been approved by petition
  • Are minimum 3 units (excluding certain exceptional courses)
  • Are taken for a letter grade (if available), and completed with a 'B' or higher
  • Include at least three courses either i) in the same department; or ii) within the same thematic focus (view sample thematic options under "Sample Theme 1, 2, 3"). 

b) Additional academic courses (lectures, seminars, colloquiums, etc.) as necessary to reach a total of 46 units. Additional units may be at or above 100 level for most departments (at or above 200 level for HISTORY and other select departments) though students are strongly encouraged to enroll in graduate-level courses where possible. These courses should be taken for a letter grade when this option is available.  Activity and studio classes cannot count.

3. Master's Thesis:

Students must submit a master's thesis representing a substantial piece of original research with a minimum of 10,000 words excluding references, citations, appendices, etc. (view past thesis topics)

Required Program Milestones
  • Program Proposal:
    By the end of their first quarter at Stanford, M.A. students must submit a program proposal for the Master's Degree. The Program Proposal Form must be printed out, approved and signed by the student's adviser, and submitted to CEAS for review and approval.

  • CEAS Thesis Workshop
    Once during their time in the M.A. program, students are required to attend one CEAS Thesis Workshop. These workshops, offered in autumn and spring quarters, will include topics such as: developing a manageable and successful thesis topic, working efficiently and effectively with faculty, and managing a working timeline. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that they enroll in the workshop and attend prior to graduation. Ideally this milestone is completed prior to submitting the Thesis Proposal.

  • Thesis Proposal and Literature Review:
    By the end of the quarter prior to the quarter in which they intend to graduate, M.A. students must submit an approved thesis proposal and literature review for the Master's Degree. The proposal is the statement of the research question, the rationale for the research, the theoretical and empirical background that the student is bringing to bear, and the methodology. The 5-10 page proposal must be reviewed and approved by the student's adviser. The Thesis Proposal and Literature Review Guidelines contain the cover page for the proposal, which must be printed out, approved and signed by the student's adviser, and submitted to CEAS.

  • Thesis Presentation
    Once during their time in the M.A. program, students are required to present their thesis project at a public presentation.  CEAS organizes quarterly events for this purpose, allowing students the opportunity to hone their public speaking skills by giving short informal presentations, and to receive feedback from  fellow students and faculty.  Each student will present for ~7 minutes, followed by 5-10 minutes of discussion with the audience. This requirement can be  fulfilled at any stage of the thesis development process, and does not need to be only for 'completed' projects. 


Important Policies
  • Course Petition Policies:
    Under some circumstances, students may petition for a non-East Asia specific course to be counted towards the major (such as a methodology course in a particular discipline which will aid the student in preparing to conduct research for their M.A. thesis). Students must submit the Course Petition Form along with a syllabus for the class, no later than the Monday before the University-wide Final Study List deadline in the quarter the course is offered. A maximum of three courses can be petitioned to count towards the degree. To have a successful course petition the student must commit to writing a paper or undertaking a project that focuses on East Asia, and the content must be sufficient to be reasonably considered an East Asian studies course. We ask that students submit petitions early, so that there is adequate time if additional information is required. We suggest that students follow up to make sure the petition is signed before assuming it has been approved. Students are encouraged to allow time to make changes in their academic plans if necessary (i.e., if the petitions are not approved).
  • EASTASN 300 Directed Reading Policies:
    Directed reading courses are independent study projects students may undertake with a relevant Stanford faculty member. Once the student has found a faculty member to support his/her studies, the student must inform the Student Services Officer immediately so that the appropriate section can be added to EASTASN 300. The limitations for Directed Reading units are:
    • A maximum of 6 units may apply toward the 46 unit degree requirement.
    • If applying the units to the 9 courses requirement, the course must be minimum 3 units, and the student must submit an instructor-approved syllabus which includes:
      • Instructor name & contact info
      • Year and quarter of course
      • Unit count
      • Grading basis (must be "Letter grade")
      • Approximate meeting times and durations
      • Course objective (short paragraph)
      • Weekly assignments breakdown (i.e., how will you be graded?  Discussion sessions, weekly short papers, final term paper, etc).


  • Language Requirement

Students must complete the equivalent of Stanford's first three full years of language training in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Other East Asian languages may be accepted by petition. Students entering the program without any language preparation should complete first- and second-year Chinese, Japanese, or Korean within the first year of residence at Stanford if they intend to graduate within two years (this would necessitate completing a summer language program). All language courses taken at Stanford used toward fulfilling the language requirement must be for letter grades and completed with a grade of 'B' or higher. Conversation classes cannot be used for meeting this requirement, and units from the language courses numbered 1-99 do not count toward the 46 units required for the degree. Language courses numbered 100 and above (i.e 3rd year and above) can be used toward meeting the 46 units minimum for the degree, but cannot be used toward fulfilling the content courses requirement.

The language requirement may be satisfied by placing into the 4th year level of an intended language through the language proficiency exam given by the Stanford Language Center.  Students who demonstrate partial completion of this requirement (i.e. testing into 3rd year Chinese, 3rd quarter) need only complete those courses needed to fulfill the regular year-long course sequence.  

Students who fulfill this minimum three-year language requirement before completing other program requirements are encouraged to continue language study, or take courses in which Chinese, Japanese, or Korean are used, for the duration of the program.

The language used to meet the language proficiency requirement should match the student's country/region of focus.

Language courses are listed under the following subject codes on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site: CHINLANGJAPANLNG, and KORLANG.

Program Length

The CEAS M.A. Program is designed to be completed in two years, but may be completed in as little as three quarters. Students who have completed the foreign language requirement prior to entering the program will have more flexibility to complete the program in one year, while students who will undertake extensive language training and more detailed thesis projects will require additional time in the program.  Average time to degree completion is six (6) quarters.  Sample degree timelines can be found in the following document:  Path to Degree