Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)
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 PhD 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. In addition to the guaranteed four years of funding to all PhD students, 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.
TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement
IELTS Overall Score Requirement
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
30 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 4 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 24 graduates:
RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher EducationSimon Fraser University (2)
University of Lethbridge
Montana State University
City University of Hong Kong
Miyazaki Sangyokeiei University
SUNY New Paltz
University of Macau
University of York
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationIndependent Scholar
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Tuition / Program Costs
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,632.61||$2,868.22|
|Tuition per year||$4,897.83||$8,604.66|
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$923.38 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $16,884.10 (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. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
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.
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)
Chiu-Duke, Josephine (Arts and Cultural Traditions, Chinese and Taiwanese history, political thought, human rights, democracy, intellectuals)
Fulton, Bruce (Literary translation, Modern Korean fiction, women)
Harlow, Francesca (social history; history of family and kinship and the meaning of place in Indian society and culture; theories of historical narrative, the social history of religion and imperialism)
Hur, Nam-Lin (Japanese, cultural foundations, religion, international relations)
King, Ross (Korean linguistics, dialectology,language pedagogy, history of language )
Laffin, Christina (Arts, Literature and Subjectivity, History of Major Eras, Great Civilisations or Geographical Corpuses, premodern Japanese literature, medieval Japanese history, women's writing, Japanese women's history, travel writing, autobiography, Japanese poetry, literacy, socialization, wet nursing, narratology)
Li, Duanduan (Chinese linguistics, applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, Chinese language and culture, second language acquisition, language socialization, Chinese heritage language education, bilingualism and multilingualism, Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Multilingualism, Second Language Acquisition, Heritage language Teaching and Learning, Language Socialization, Research Methodology, Technology in Language Teaching, Language Teaching Material, Development, Chinese Applied Linguistics)
Lynn, Hyung Gu (South Korea, North Korea, Japan, politics, economics, popular culture, society, international relations, Korea and Japan, ranging in chronological coverage from the late-19th century to the present, and in subject matter from international relations to contemporary popular culture)
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)
Murphy, Anne (Arts and Cultural Traditions, Religion, Literary or Artistic Work Analysis, Philosophy, History and Comparative Studies, cultural history, Early Modern Studies, Punjabi Studies, South Asian Studies)
Nosco, Peter (17th-18th century Japan construction of individuality and individual identity during the early modern Tokugawa period)
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 (Modern Chinese literature and cinema since the 19th century, Chinese cartoons and visual culture, Chinese print and popular culture, Chinese internet culture, humour and satire, Taiwan, Chinese culture, modern Chinese history, translation )
Rusk, Bruce (Literary or Artistic Work Analysis, Social Determinants of Arts and Letters, Arts and Cultural Traditions, Exegesis and Sacred Text Critics, Lexicography and Dictionaries, Early Modern China, Confucianism, Authentication Studies)
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)
Slingerland, Edward (Asian Studies, Chinese philosophy, philosophy, religion, religion and conflict, secularism, spontaneity, ethics, science-humanities integration, interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary research, Chinese thought, religious studies (comparative religion, cognitive science and evolution of religion), cognitive linguistics (blending and conceptual metaphor theory), ethics (virtue ethics, moral psychology), evolutionary psychology, the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences, and the classical Chinese language)
Swatek, Catherine (Chinese vernacular literature of the late imperial period, both fiction and drama)
Thobani, Sunera (Critical race, postcolonial and feminist theory )
Recent Doctoral Citations
- Dr. Clayton Howard Ashton
"Dr. Ashton studied new historical texts to examine how theories of human psychology were used to design early political institutions. He demonstrated a correlation between the rise of China's first empire and the rituals that affect people's emotions. This research changes our understanding of early political and religious history." (November 2017)
- Dr. JeongHye Son
"Dr. Son examined the ways Koreans living in Japan transmit their Korean language to their children who were born in Japan. The study reveals Korean children are socialized into multiple perceptions of language and identities through everyday interactions with others. She highlights the relationship between their perceptions and identities and their language usage." (May 2017)
- Dr. Eiji Okawa
"Dr. Okawa explored how people in the past created order by overcoming conflicts, using the example of the Buddhist temple of Koyasan in Japan. He argued that the indescribable power of divine beings morphed onto their geography and was the source of order for a regional society before the advent of the early modern state at the turn of the 17th century." (May 2017)
- Dr. Douglas Fairchild Ober
"Dr. Ober studied the revival of Buddhism in modern India. He traced the ways that 19th and 20th century South Asians and Europeans rewrote and reinvented the very way we understand Buddhist history and practice. Dr. Ober's research, which is of interest to historians and practitioners alike, shows Buddhism's transformation in a modern, global age." (May 2017)
- Dr. Benjamin Evan Whaley
"Dr. Whaley studied how a selection of Japanese video games simulate and respond to issues of national trauma. While video games are often regarded solely as an entertainment medium, Dr. Whaley argues that specific design strategies promote empathy for real-world victims, teach valuable coping skills, and promote player self-reflection." (November 2016)