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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 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) East Asian Studies 330 core course, 3 units
b) 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 courses) — which:

  • Are on the approved East Asian Studies course list, or have been approved by petition
  • Are minimum 3 units
  • Are taken for a letter grade, and completed with a 'B' or higher
  • Are not counted as part of the language requirement 
  • 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").
  • Must include one pre-designated course offered in winter quarter of the first year.  For 2019-20, students must choose EASTASN 297 or JAPAN 251B/CHINA 251B/KOREA 251.

c) 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) though students are strongly encouraged to enroll in graduate-level courses where possible. These courses must be taken for a letter grade.

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)

Important Policies & Guidelines
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • CEAS Thesis Workshop
    Students are required to attend one CEAS Thesis Workshop during their time in the M.A. program. The workshop 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.
  • Thesis Presentation
    Students are required to present their thesis project at some point during their M.A. career.  CEAS organizes quarterly public presentations 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. 


  • 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 Coordinator immediately so that the appropriate section can be added to EASTASN 300. The limitations for Directed Reading units are:
    • A maximum of 5 units may apply toward the 46 unit degree requirement.
    • If applying the units to the 9 courses requirement, must submit an instructor-approved syllabus which includes:

    --Instructor name, contact info
    --Year and quarter of course
    --Unit count
    --Grading basis
    --Approximate meeting times and duration
    --Course objective (short paragraph)
    --Weekly assignment breakdown

Program Length

The CEAS M.A. Program may be completed in 1-3 years.  Students who have completed the foreign language requirement prior to entering the program may complete the program in one year.  Students who will undertake extensive language training and more detailed thesis projects will require additional time in the program.  Sample degree timelines can be found in the following document:  Path to Degree