Master of Arts in Asian Studies (MA)
UBC's Asian Studies Department is the flagship Asian Studies department in Canada and is widely acknowledged as one of the finest in North America. The Department awards a thesis-based MA in Asian Studies to students working in a variety of regions and disciplines.
The department boasts over 20 graduate faculty, as well as a many tenure-track instructors and lecturers with wide-ranging expertise. Our more than 60 graduate students specialize in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and South Asian Studies and craft individual programs within and across various humanities disciplines, including linguistics, literary study, history, philosophy, religious studies, and popular and visual culture. The Department offers instruction in the following languages: Cantonese, Modern and Classical Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, Modern and Classical Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, and Sanskrit.
The department is a hub for research activities related to Asia, including large collaborative projects, multiple lecture series and workshops, and professional development opportunities, which provide students ample opportunities to develop their expertise, pursue their interests, and develop professional connections with scholars from around the world. It also regularly hosts postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars. The program offers a range of funding opportunities and support for research activities.
What makes the program unique?
In addition to our strengths in language and literary studies, the Asian Studies Department stands out for the geographic and disciplinary breadth of its faculty. It offers a range of coursework, from specialized research seminars to comparative Pan-Asian, methodological and professional development courses, drawing on the diversity of faculty and student specializations.
The UBC Library is the second-largest research library in Canada and the Asian Library boasts one of the finest Asian collections in North America, with a particular strength in East Asian materials.
The program in Asian Studies consists of a minimum of 30 credits (including a 12-credit thesis). The Program does not offer part-time or non-thesis study.
Most students begin their program at the start of the Winter Session (First Tuesday in September, after Labor Day). Under special circumstances students may be allowed to begin their program in the second term of the Winter Session, that is, in January (after New Year's Day).
Contact the program
Admission Information & Requirements
1) Check Eligibility
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based
Overall score requirement: 90
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is not required.
Prior degree, course and other requirements
Prior Degree Requirements
A Bachelor of Arts degree from an accredited university level institution.
2) Meet Deadlines
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date01 October 2022
3) Prepare Application
All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Master of Arts in Asian Studies (MA)
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
4) Apply Online
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,767.18||$3,104.64|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,057.05 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)
All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.
Research Assistantships (GRA)
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
Financial aid (need-based funding)
Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.
All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.
Foreign government scholarships
Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.
Working while studying
The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.
Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Master of Arts in Asian Studies (MA). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Ahmed, Rumee (Islamic studies; Islam; Muslims; Religion; Law; Theology; ethics; Philosophy)
Bailey, C. D. Alison (pre-modern literature; fiction and literary criticism)
Baker, Donald Leslie (Cultural and religious history of Korea)
Chen, Jinhua (East Asian state-church relationships, monastic (hagio/)biographical literature, Buddhist sacred sites, relic veneration, Buddhism and technological innovation in medieval China, and Buddhist translations)
Duffy, Kay (Asian history; Literary or Artistic Works Analysis; Literary or Artistic Work Dissemination or Reception Contexts; Social Determinants of Arts and Letters; Arts and Cultural Traditions; Early Medieval China; Premodern Chinese Literature; Sinographic Sphere)
Fulton, Bruce (Literary translation, Modern Korean fiction, women)
Hur, Nam-Lin (Japanese, cultural foundations, religion, international relations)
Kadir, Aynur (Documentation, conservation and revitalization of Indigenous cultures and languages, Uyghur literature, musical traditions and cultural practices, global indigeneity from the Uyghur in China to Coast Salish and Six Nations in Canada, transnational Indigenous diplomacy, safeguarding and revitalization of languages and cultural heritage)
King, Ross (Korean linguistics, dialectology,language pedagogy, history of language )
Laffin, Christina (Humanities and the arts; premodern Japanese literature; medieval Japanese history; women's writing; Japanese women's history; travel writing; autobiography; Japanese poetry; Literacy; socialization; wet nursing; narratology)
Laird, Colleen (Japanese media and gender studies; Gendered image production, gendered reception, and women in industry; Video games, new media, streaming media, animation (anime), and comics (manga); Paratexts: distribution, exhibition, and production materials; Film theory, genre theory, transnational cinemas and star texts, and feminist and queer theory)
Lynn, Hyung Gu (Asian history; popular culture, migration, colonialism, globalization, development)
Main, Jessica (Buddhism, Ethics, and Human Rights; Modern Buddhist Institutions, Law, and Governance; Buddhists and Buddhist Institutions Active in Modern Society: Social Welfare; Healthcare and Healing; Protest Movements; Rehabilitation, Incarceration and Corrections; Youth Culture, Physical Culture, and Scouting; Modern Japanese Religions and Society; Japanese True Pure Land Buddhism)
Mostow, Joshua Scott (Inter-relations between text and image, especially in Japanese culture, Japanese women)
Nakamura, Fuyubi (Social and cultural anthropology; Museum studies (Museology); Visual theory, visual culture and visual literacy; Globalization and culture; Environment, space and place; Anthropology of art; museum studies (working as curator at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC); material and visual culture; Contemporary Japanese calligraphy; Indigenous cultures, especially Ainu; disaster and memory, especially in the context of the Great East Japan Earthquake (3.11).; contemporary Asian art and culture)
Naqvi, Naveena (Persianate world; Non-courtly Persographic writers in regional contexts during early colonial rule; History of early modern and modern South Asia; History of political Islam; gender and sexuality; Hindustani music)
Oberoi, Harjot Singh (South asia, how classical empires shaped the British Raj in India, critical theory, the formation of private libraries, law and society, transnational cultures, and complex systems)
Orbaugh, Sharalyn (modern Japanese culture (literature, film, manga, animation, kamishibai); East Asian women’s issues; anti-racist pegagogy, Japanese narrative and visual culture)
Rea, Christopher (Chinese literatures; Asian history; Chinese literature; Cinema; Print culture; translation; Humor)
Rusk, Bruce (Asian history; Literary or Artistic Work Analysis; Social Determinants of Arts and Letters; Arts and Cultural Traditions; Exegesis and Sacred Text Critics; Lexicography and Dictionaries; Authentication Studies; Confucianism; Early Modern China)
Sathaye, Adheesh (early medieval Sanskrit drama, aesthetics, and narrative literature; Sanskrit epics, Marathi devotional performance traditions, and theories of textual production, performance, and folkloristics; South Asian folklore, narrative theory, and cultural studies)
Shakya, Tsering (confluence of politics, ethno-national identity and religious practice in cultural production and social transformation across both historical and contemporary Tibet and the Himalayas; contemporary minority policy and social media in the PRC.)
Shin, Leo (Later imperial China)
Thobani, Sunera (Critical race, postcolonial and feminist theory )
Sample Thesis Submissions
Asian Studies encompasses Chinese, Japanese, Korean, East Asian Buddhism, and South Asian culture, including literature, visual and popular culture, linguistics, pre-modern history, religion, and philosophy.