General Info

  • Faculty working with students: 47
  • Students: 19
  • Students receiving Financial Aid: 4
  • Part time study available: No
  • Application terms: Fall
  • Application deadline: January 31
Application Info


Asian/Pacific Studies Institute
Box 90411
Durham, NC 27708-0411
(919) 684-2604



Program Description

Duke's East Asian Studies program offers comprehensive coverage of East Asian politics, societies, history, and cultures, with particular strengths in literature; modern history; comparative history and culture; anthropology; film, media and visual studies; comparative studies of capitalism; and religious studies. Research on East Asia at Duke is supported by extensive library holdings managed by subject librarians for China, Japan and Korea. Duke also has close ties with Asian Studies faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and students can receive credit for courses at either institution.

The MA in East Asian Studies provides rigorous interdisciplinary training for students seeking careers in academia or professional fields that require regional specialization. The program introduces key area studies methodologies while providing flexibility for students to specialize in specific modes of inquiry (students with a specific interest in humanities should consider applying to the Critical Asian Humanities program).  MA students have the benefit of developing individual research projects through working closely with a faculty advisor. The culmination of the degree results in a substantial and original academic work, either in the form of an MA thesis or two revised research papers, as well as competency in at least one regional language.  

The MA degree program is housed in the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute (APSI), which is the focal point for research and teaching on East Asia at Duke. APSI, founded in 1981, has fostered Duke’s strong intellectual engagement with the region for decades. The institute maintains a robust schedule of events on campus including an annual APSI Speaker Series, international conferences and forums for graduate students to share their work. APSI also regularly hosts visiting scholars from East Asia and maintains close partnerships with academic institutions in the region. MA students are an integral part of the intellectual and social fabric that forms the APSI community.


The MA in East Asian Studies offers students the flexibility to choose either to write an official MA thesis or revise and submit two research papers originally developed during coursework to meet milestone requirements for the degree. Students who chose the MA thesis option are required to take 10 graduate-level courses including 6 listed courses with a focus on East Asia, 2 independent studies with a thesis advisor and 2 electives.

Those who select the research paper option will take 10 graduate-level courses including 8 listed courses with a focus on East Asia and 2 electives. Courses must be from two or more programs or departments.  Students selecting either option must complete an oral defense before an examination committee of three or more members. All students must also demonstrate proficiency in an East Asian language equivalent to the successful completion of the full third-year language sequence at Duke.  Up to two regional language courses taken at the graduate level may count toward course requirements.    

Graduate Certificate in East Asian Studies

The Asian/Pacific Studies Institute offers current graduate students at Duke the opportunity to deepen their understanding of East Asia by pursuing a course of study leading to the Graduate Certificate in East Asian Studies. The certificate demonstrates that a student has completed significant interdisciplinary coursework relating to the region and has attained proficiency in at least one East Asian regional language. 

Graduate students enrolled in Duke’s graduate and professional schools are eligible to receive the certificate, provided they meet the following academic requirements: Students must complete four courses (12 credit hours) from an approved list of courses in East Asian studies drawn from at least two different departments or programs.  Students must also demonstrate proficiency in an East Asian language equivalent to the successful completion of the full 2nd-year language sequence at Duke.  Successful completion of the certificate requirements will result in a notation on the student’s transcript.

For more details, including faculty bios and course listings, please visit the APSI website:


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Fall

Application Deadline: January 31
All applications received by January 31 are guaranteed review and will be considered for departmental funding.  Applications received after the priority deadline will be accepted for review on a space-available basis until April 26, 2023.

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Writing Sample: Required
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: GRE General Required
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required

Department-Specific Application Requirements (submitted through online application)
Applicants with TOEFL scores of 100 and above, IELTS scores of 7 and above, or Duolingo scores of 120 and above are preferred.

Writing Sample Guidelines
A writing sample in English must be included with the online application. The writing sample is intended to gauge an applicant's academic writing ability, and should be a paper that the student feels best represents the quality of his/her work. There is no formal length or content requirement. We prefer complete papers to summaries or abbreviated versions.

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance