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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 proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean language equivalent to Stanford's first three full years of language training.  This requirement may be fulfilled by one of three methods:

  1. Completing the third-year course sequence at Stanford;
  2. Examination (i.e., testing into 4th year in the target language) administered by the Stanford Language Center. Students who demonstrate partial completion via this method (for example; testing into 3rd year Chinese, 2nd quarter) need only complete those courses remaining to fulfill the regular year-long course sequence; 
  3. By possessing a degree from a university where the language of instruction is in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

Students completing their language proficiency requirement while attending Stanford must adhere to these policies:

  • 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.
  • The language used to meet the language proficiency requirement should match the student's country/region of focus.
  • Units from 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.
  • Students entering the program without any language preparation must complete first-year language courses during the first year of residence at Stanford.   
  • Other Asian languages may be accepted by petition to fulfill degree requirements.

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

2. Unit Requirements:

Students must complete minimum 46 units at Stanford, comprised of:

A) Minimum nine (9) non-language East Asia content courses , at least 30 units of which must be at the graduate level (200 level or above in most courses and 300 level for HISTORY and other select departments), and which also meet the following requirements:  

  • Includes EASTASN 330 core course, 3 units, offered in autumn quarter. Students starting their program in autumn must take this class during their first quarter at Stanford.
  • Are on the approved East Asian Studies course list, or have been approved by petition (maximum 3 petitions)
  • Are minimum 3 units (excluding certain pre-approved exceptional courses)
  • Are taken for a letter grade (if available), and completed with a 'B' or higher ("P" or higher in GSB courses and Law courses)
  • 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, which are:

  • An academic content course, such as a lecture, seminar, lab or colloquium (no activity courses, studio courses, EFS language classes, etc.)
  • At least level 100 or above (above 200 for HISTORY courses), with students strongly encouraged to enroll in graduate-level courses whenever possible.  Content courses numbered 1-99 do not count toward required units.
  • Taken for a letter grade when possible

General policies applicable to all coursework:

  • Language classes must be numbered at level 100 or above; language courses numbered 1-99 may not count towards overall units required.
  • The cumulative grade point average (GPA) for all courses must be 3.0 or higher.
  • No transfer units are accepted, with the exception of courses for exchange credit at the University of California, Berkeley, with approval of advisor and the Office of the University Registrar. 

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 in the main body (excluding references, citations, appendices, etc.). With the adviser's approval, the master's thesis requirement may be satisfied by expanding upon an existing research paper written for an advanced course. The M.A. thesis is due the quarter in which the student applies to graduate by the date and time specified on the official Stanford Academic Calendar. No filing extensions are permitted. (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.
  • 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.  This requirement can be  fulfilled at any stage of the thesis development process, and does not need to be only for 'completed' projects. 


Course Petition and Approval Policies
  • Content Course Petition Policy:  
    Under some circumstances, students may petition for a non-East Asia specific course to be counted towards the nine content courses.  For example, this could be for a methodology course in a particular discipline which will aid the student in preparing to conduct research for the M.A. thesis, or a course with relevant non-East Asia content. Students must submit the Course Petition Form along with a syllabus for the class, no later than Friday of the second week of classes in the quarter the course is offered.  If possible, students should commit to writing a paper or undertaking a project that focuses on East Asia as part of the course.  A maximum of three courses can be petitioned to count towards the degree. Petitioned courses should be 3 units or greater, at the graduate level whenever possible, and must be taken for a letter grade where available.
  • EASTASN 300 Directed Reading Approval Policy:  
    Directed reading courses (EASTASN 300) may be taken with relevant Stanford Faculty members for the purpose of completing independent study projects.  The following policies pertain to these courses:
  1. A maximum of 6 units of EASTASN 300 may be applied to the overall 46 required degree units.
  2. In order to apply EASTASN 300 units to the nine content course requirement, students must submit an instructor-approved syllabus to the CEAS office for approval via the Directed Reading Approval Form no later than the end of the second week of the quarter in which the course will be offered. 
  3. The course must be taken for a minimum 3 units and for a letter grade, and the submitted syllabus must include: 
    • 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/grading breakdown (i.e., how will you be graded?  Discussion sessions, weekly short papers, final term paper, etc).

Please note that unit loads reflect expected work hours for a course; one unit represents approximately three hours of work per week. Thus a 3 unit course will probably require 9 hours of work per week, a 5 unit course will require 15 hours per week, and so forth.  Students may use this template to ensure all required information is included.

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 6 quarters.  Sample degree timelines can be found in the following document:  Path to Degree