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Southeast Asian Studies

Administrative Unit:Southeast Asian Studies
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:M.A.
Degrees Offered:M.A.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor, Graduate/Professional Certificate

Faculty: Professors Bickner (Languages and Cultures of Asia), Bowie (center director, Anthropology), Cowell (African Languages and Literature), Coxhead (Agricultural and Applied Economics), George (Anthropology), Gunther (Life Sciences Communication), Macken (Linguistics), A. McCoy (History), Olds (Geography), Rafferty (Languages and Cultures of Asia), Sidel (Law), Sutton (Music), Winichakul (History), Zhou (Anthropology); Associate Professors Gade (Languages and Cultures of Asia), Hansen (Languages and Cultures of Asia); Assistant Professors Baird (Geography), Choy (Dance/Asian American Studies), Kamata (La Follette, Public Affairs), Kim (Anthropology), Nobles (Sociology); Associate Faculty Cullinane (History/Southeast Asian Studies), M. McCoy (Communication Arts/Southeast Asian Studies), Barnard (Languages and Cultures of Asia); Lecturers Chanprasert-Elbow (Languages and Cultures of Asia), Dinh (Languages and Cultures of Asia), Lee (Languages and Cultures of Asia, Zamar (Languages and Cultures of Asia); Library Ashmun (Southeast Asia Collection, Memorial Library)


The Center for Southeast Asian Studies administers a formal graduate program in Southeast Asian Studies and facilitates interdisciplinary study on Southeast Asia in intercollege, professional, and other degree programs throughout the university. The Southeast Asian studies program provides students with the opportunity to concentrate their study of this dynamic region in several disciplines and professional areas: anthropology, communications (journalism), education, economics, geography, history, linguistics, literature, music and dance (performing arts), political science, public health, religion, sociology, and urban and regional planning, as well as natural resources, business, law, and environmental, development, and policy studies. Faculty expertise and library holdings are particularly strong for in-depth study of Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The goal of the program is to provide students with a strong area and language background on Southeast Asia and to prepare them for a range of academic and professional careers.

Language study is a critical component in area studies, and the center encourages students to develop proficiency in at least one Southeast Asian language. During the academic year, instruction is offered through the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia in five Southeast Asian languages: Filipino (Tagalog), Hmong, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. Each language is offered at two or more levels of instruction, with advanced readings and literature courses available in Indonesian and Thai. The center also facilitates participation in the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI), a national consortium that provides instruction at multiple levels in eight languages of the region: Burmese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian/Malaysian, Javanese, Khmer, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese, and depending on enrollments, Javanese. SEASSI is currently (2001–15) hosted by the center and based in Madison.

Master's Degree 

The M.A. degree in Southeast Asian studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to meet the unique needs of two broad groups of students: those seeking certification of area expertise en route to a disciplinary doctoral degree and those seeking a terminal M.A. en route to a wide range of careers in Southeast Asia, including employment in business, journalism, and various government and international organizations. The program requires two years of coursework (or the equivalent) in a Southeast Asian language and 24 graduate credits in Southeast Asian studies courses.

Doctoral Minor 

The doctoral minor in Southeast Asian studies is offered to students who are enrolled in a doctoral program at the university and are interested in focusing their disciplinary program on Southeast Asia. Students interested in obtaining this minor should first consult with the center's associate director. Two tracks of study are available for the minor, both of which require a minimum of 12 credits of coursework.

Graduate/Professional Certificate 

The graduate/professional certificate in Southeast Asian studies is awarded to graduate students in other degree programs who are interested in documenting their advanced training in Southeast Asian studies. It requires the completion of 20 credits from the Southeast Asian studies core courses, approved by the center's director.

Other Interdisciplinary Programs 

In addition to the formal degree program in Southeast Asian Studies, there are ample opportunities for students to design interdisciplinary programs with a concentration on Southeast Asia. Students are encouraged to design programs in the areas of development and environmental studies, international policy studies, natural resources management, and international agriculture. Courses of study in Southeast Asian development and environmental studies (in particular, land and natural resources management) can be arranged in combination with agricultural and applied economics, rural sociology, and forest and wildlife ecology--and through professional degree programs in urban and regional planning, development studies, public affairs (Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs), and land resources, water resources management, and conservation biology and sustainable development (Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies).

The core faculty associated with the center participate in these programs and develop and lead research projects in Southeast Asia relating to these and other areas of professional expertise. Strong faculty and library resources also support considerable interdisciplinary study of Southeast Asian music, religion, visual and performing arts, and popular culture and literature, particularly through the departments of Anthropology, Music, Theatre and Drama, and Languages and Cultures of Asia, and the Dance Program (School of Education). Students can design programs that combine methodological and theoretical approaches with Southeast Asian content under the direction of core faculty members.

Financial Aid 

The center offers two graduate-level fellowships each year: Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Title VI); and Center Fellowships, funded by the center's endowment. Both fellowships provide full tuition and a monthly stipend and are awarded to deserving graduate students (in any discipline) with a strong commitment to the study of Southeast Asia. The center also provides Field Research Grants to be used to support doctoral dissertation and pre-dissertation research. Applicants for FLAS fellowships must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and must apply to study one of the languages offered during the academic year: Indonesian, Tagalog, Thai, or Vietnamese. Center fellowships are generally awarded by semester and are open to all graduate students committed to the study of Southeast Asia. Field Research Grants can be awarded to graduate students in any field of study. Applications for FLAS, Center Fellowships, and Field Research Grants can be obtained directly from the center's office (or downloaded from the Web site) and must be submitted, along with all supporting materials, by the first week of February each year. The center also nominates eligible incoming graduate students in its M.A. program for two university-wide competitions: Advanced Opportunity Fellowships (for minority students) and University Fellowships (for students with outstanding academic records).

There are also a limited number of teaching assistantships in some departments offering high-enrollment courses on Southeast Asia. In addition to these opportunities, other fellowships and financial assistance are available outside the center. For further information, incoming graduate students should write directly to the appropriate department and to the Office of Student Financial Aid.


Applicants for admission to the M.A. degree program in Southeast Asian studies should submit an online application. The following materials are required and should be submitted to the center: the Southeast Asian Center application form (available from the center's Web site), statement of purpose, official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate study, three references, and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores for U.S. citizens; most international students are also required to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores.

For more information: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 207 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison WI 53706-1397; 608-263-1755; fax 608-263-3735; seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu; seasia.wisc.edu.


Agricultural and Applied Economics

344 Environmental and Global Economy
473 Economic Growth and Development in Southeast Asia
474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas
731 Macroeconomics of Agricultural Development
732 Microeconomics of Agricultural Development


330 Topics in Ethnology: Peoples and Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia
330 Topics in Ethnology: Art in Island Southeast Asia
350 Political Anthropology
430 Language and Culture
690 Problems in Anthropology
940 Seminar: Problems in Cultural Anthropology

Art History

362 Arts of India
423 Buddhist Iconography
600 Topics in Art History: Buddhist and Hindu Architecture

Asian American Studies

560 Topics: Asian Americans and War


IB 365/615 Business in Emerging Markets: Southeast Asia IB 940/941 Seminar in International Business


353 Javanese Performance (fall)
453 Javanese Performance Repertory (spring)


473 Economic Growth and Development in Southeast Asia

Educational Policy Studies

760 Education of Developing Societies
963 Educational Planning/Curriculum Change in Developing Countries

Forest Ecology and Management

511 Introduction to Agricultural Extension in Developing Countries
875 Social Forestry: Development Studies Seminar


305 Introduction to the City
505 Global City/World City
675 Special Topics: Cities and Development
901 Seminar: Cities and Development


319 The Vietnam Wars
438 Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asian History
457 History of Southeast Asia to 1800
458 History of Southeast Asia Since 1800
463 History of India and the Indian Ocean Area
621 Buddhism in the History of South and Southeast Asia
703 Geography in History
755 Proseminar: World War II in Southeast Asia
755 Proseminar: Empire and Revolution in Southeast Asia
755 Proseminar: Orientalism: Knowledge of the Other
755 Proseminar: Topics in Thai History
755 Proseminar: Tropical Dictators: Indonesia and the Philippines
755 Proseminar in Southeast Asian History

History of Science

919 Science, Medicine and Empire
919 Colonialism and Psychoanalysis
919 Medical Knowledges in Asia

Journalism and Mass Communication

621 Mass Communications in Developing Nations
921 Seminar: International News

Languages and Cultures of Asia

300 Topics: Colonial Literature of the Netherlands Indies
300 Topics: Religion and Society in Contemporary Southeast Asia
357 Literatures of Muslim Societies
361 Survey of Indonesian Cultures
364 Introduction to Buddhism
370 Islam: Religion and Culture
401 Modern Indonesian Literature
403 Southeast Asian Literature (Mainland)
404 Southeast Asian Literature (Islands)
423 Buddhist Iconography
430 Language and Culture
438 Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asian History
457 History of Southeast Asia to 1800
458 History of Southeast Asia since 1800
441 Language and Society in Southeast Asia
471 Topics in Contemporary Buddhism
476 Buddhism and Literature
660 History of Buddhism and Buddhist Institutions
671 Structure of Thai
706 Topics in the History of Buddhism


571 Structure of Thai


327/427 Advanced Techniques in Javanese Gamelan
361 (1) Beginning Javanese Gamelan
361 (2) Advanced Javanese Gamelan
402 Musical Cultures of the World: East and Southeast Asia
515 Proseminar in Ethnomusicology
716 Seminar in Musical Instruments of the World
915 Seminar in Ethnomusicology

Political Science

312 Politics of the World Economy
339 Southeast Asia: International Politics
368 Special Topics: Politics of Developing Areas
639 Politics of Southeast Asia
952 Seminar: Comparative Politics of Developing Nations
953 Seminar on Political Economy
960 Seminar in International Relations of Southeast Asia
967 Seminar on Southeast Asian Politics

Population Health Sciences

650 Special Topics: Fundamentals of International Health
718 International Health Systems
719 Seminar: Contemporary Issues in Health Care
912 Independent Study in International Health
913 International Health Clerkship


496 Population and Health in Asia
725 Sociology of Economic Change
925 Seminar: Socio-Economic Change in Underdeveloped Areas
940 Seminar: Sociology of Economic Change

Southeast Asian Languages

(Courses administered through the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia)

Filipino (Tagalog) Instruction

305 First Semester Filipino (fall and summer: SEASSI)
306 Second Semester Filipino (spring and summer: SEASSI)
405 Third Semester Filipino (fall and summer: SEASSI)
406 Fourth Semester Filipino (spring and summer: SEASSI)
505 Fifth Semester Filipino (fall and summer: SEASSI)
506 Sixth Semester Filipino (spring and summer: SEASSI)

Indonesian Instruction

309 First Semester Indonesian (fall and summer: SEASSI)
310 Second Semester Indonesian (spring and summer: SEASSI)
409 Third Semester Indonesian (fall and summer: SEASSI)
410 Fourth Semester Indonesian (spring and summer: SEASSI)
509 Fifth Semester Indonesian (fall and summer: SEASSI)
510 Sixth Semester Indonesian (spring and summer: SEASSI)
610 Seminar: Advanced Readings in Indonesian Literature

Thai Instruction

317 First Semester Thai (fall and summer: SEASSI)
318 Second Semester Thai (spring and summer: SEASSI)
417 Third Semester Thai (fall and summer: SEASSI)
418 Fourth Semester Thai (spring and summer: SEASSI)
517 Fifth Semester Thai (fall and summer: SEASSI)
518 Sixth Semester Thai (spring and summer: SEASSI)
616 Modern Thai Literature: The Novel
617 Thai Poetry
618 Thai Prose Literature: The Short Story

Vietnamese Instruction

319 First Semester Vietnamese (fall and summer: SEASSI)
320 Second Semester Vietnamese (spring and summer: SEASSI)
419 Third Semester Vietnamese (fall and summer: SEASSI)
420 Fourth Semester Vietnamese (spring and summer: SEASSI)
519 Fifth Semester Vietnamese (fall and summer: SEASSI)
520 Sixth Semester Vietnamese (spring and summer: SEASSI)

Pali Instruction

373 First Semester Pali (fall)
374 Second Semester Pali (spring)

Burmese Instruction

303 First Semester Burmese (summer only: SEASSI)
304 Second Semester Burmese (summer only: SEASSI)
403 Third Semester Burmese (summer only: SEASSI)
404 Fourth Semester Burmese (summer only: SEASSI)
503 Fifth Semester Burmese (summer only: SEASSI)
504 Sixth Semester Burmese (summer only: SEASSI)

Hmong Instruction

307 First Semester Hmong (fall and summer: SEASSI)
308 Second Semester Hmong (spring and summer: SEASSI)
407 Third Semester Hmong (fall and summer: SEASSI)
408 Fourth Semester Hmong (spring and summer: SEASSI)
507 Fifth Semester Hmong (fall and summer: SEASSI)
508 Sixth Semester Hmong (spring and summer: SEASSI)

Javanese Instruction

311 First Semester Javanese (summer only: SEASSI)
312 Second Semester Javanese (summer only: SEASSI)
411 Third Semester Javanese (summer only: SEASSI)
412 Fourth Semester Javanese (summer only: SEASSI)
511 Fifth Semester Javanese (summer only: SEASSI)
512 Sixth Semester Javanese (summer only: SEASSI)

Khmer Instruction

313 First Semester Khmer (summer only: SEASSI)
314 Second Semester Khmer (summer only: SEASSI)
413 Third Semester Khmer (summer only: SEASSI)
414 Fourth Semester Khmer (summer only: SEASSI)
513 Fifth Semester Khmer (summer only: SEASSI)
514 Sixth Semester Khmer (summer only: SEASSI)

Lao Instruction

315 First Semester Lao (summer only: SEASSI)
316 Second Semester Lao (summer only: SEASSI)
415 Third Semester Lao (summer only: SEASSI)
416 Fourth Semester Lao (summer only: SEASSI)
515 Fifth Semester Lao (summer only: SEASSI)
516 Sixth Semester Lao (summer only: SEASSI)

Literature in Translation: Southeast Asia

303 Southeast Asian Literature in Translation (Mainland)
304 Southeast Asian Literature in Translation (Islands)
379 Modern Indonesian Literature in Translation

Spanish and Portuguese

468 The End of Empire
801 Metropolitan Contact Zones

Theatre and Drama

326 Introduction to Asian Performance
351 Asian Stage Discipline
353 Javanese Performance (fall)
453 Javanese Performance Repertory (spring)

Urban and Regional Planning

741 Introduction to Planning: Urban Regional Planning in Developing Countries
939 Seminar: Decentralized Planning in Southeast Asia
969 Topics: International Development Planning and Practice

Women's Studies

320 Women and Society: Gender and the Family

For more information: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 207 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1397; 608-263-3735; seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu; seasia.wisc.edu.